Holiday meals can be challenging to your digestion and gut health, and for anyone who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other common gut health issues, this anticipation can make you question how you can enjoy the party (or any meal for that matter), without the impending digestive discomfort.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to support digestion in the face of holiday temptations.
How To Naturally Support Your Digestion
If you struggle with digestion and gut health issues like IBS or Crohn’s Disease, here are some ways to defend your gut health this holiday season.
Promote natural movement
Proper digestion relies on a process called peristalsis, the muscular contractions in the digestive system that move food along and assist nutrient absorption. Needless to say, if the process breaks down—moving too fast or too slow—food will not be digested properly and bowel movements will suffer. One important way to support this natural movement is with minerals: magnesium, calcium and potassium in particular. Remember these minerals need to be kept in balance. Too much magnesium and potassium without enough calcium can lead to soft stools.
Support digestive flora
Another potential issue to your gut or with IBS is an imbalance of digestive flora—the wide array of bacteria that play such a crucial role in digestion and overall health. A diet rich in probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (specific ingredients that nourish beneficial bacteria) foods and supplements can greatly relieve bowel issues.2
In my practice, I’ve seen outstanding results using a certified organic, liquid probiotic formula with prebiotics and 19 digestive herbs, in a fermented beverage for optimal bioactivity and bioavailability.
The importance of enzymes
In people with gut health issues, IBS and other long-term gut discomfort, digestive enzymes might not be working at peak efficiency. Supplementing with natural digestive enzymes such as amylase, protease, lipase and others can help. Slowing down, chewing slowly and thoroughly will also help pre-digest your food (saliva is an important source of digestive enzymes) and bolster overall digestive function by taking off some of the burden of your stomach enzymes.3
Eat more fiber
Increased fiber consumption will often have an excellent impact on digestion and bowel movements. This may seem counterintuitive to those suffering from diarrhea, as fiber is commonly thought to speed digestion along. However, fiber actually acts as a modulator for digestion and can improve both constipation and diarrhea.
Try Natural, Researched Supplements
There are a number of herbs and botanicals that are known to promote digestive health. In my clinical practice, I recommend a comprehensive gut health formula which contains the following ingredients:
- Pomegranate Seed strengthens digestive activity by supporting intestinal movement and gastric secretions and providing antioxidants.
- Pepper Fruit promotes circulation, including digestive circulation. The active ingredient piperine may also enhance nutrient absorption and aid in fat metabolism.
- Cassia Bark and Chinese Cardamom Fruit are warming herbs that support numerous aspects of digestion.
- Tangerine Fruit alleviates occasional cramping and gas.
- Ginger Root is traditionally used as an anti-flatulent, laxative and antacid. Research shows ginger root supports intestinal movement and combats nausea.
- Sacred Lotus Seed has been used in Asia for thousands of years, primarily for occasional abdominal cramps, loose stools and other gastrointestinal issues.
If you’re looking for extra support to get you through this season, these simple solutions can offer fast-acting relief and long- lasting digestive support, so you can feel your best throughout the holidays and beyond.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc is a licensed acupuncturist, physician, and homeopath, has an MS in traditional Chinese medicine, and has done graduate studies in herbology. Dr. Eliaz has been a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980s, with a focus on cancer, immune health, detoxification and mind-body medicine. Visit him online at dreliaz.org.