(StatePoint) The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year and you may have noticed you’re more prone to colds and upset stomach when you’re stressed. Stress tends to slow the digestive process. What’s more, 70 percent of the immune system lies in the digestive system, according to findings reported in “Clinical & Experimental Immunology.”
Unfortunately, one of the most stressful seasons coincides with one of the most indulgent. To help, Vincent Pedre, MD, author of the new book, “Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Eliminate Pain,” is offering useful tips to lessen digestive upset and keep your gut healthy over the holidays.
• Pack healthful snacks. When traveling, people tend to grab unhealthy foods for convenience. Pack nutritious foods like carrots, apples, almonds and frozen yogurt to keep the body strong. Foods like yogurt, which contain probiotics, not only address digestive issues, but are said to help stave off colds. One study found that those who took a probiotic supplement with Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a type of healthy probiotic bacteria, recovered earlier and reported less severe symptoms.
• Eat mindfully. Eating in a hurry is a major no-no for good gut health, and makes you more likely to overeat, since it takes the brain about 20 minutes to recognize when you’re full. Plus, eating quickly can cause gas, acid indigestion and bloating.
“When we stop and really enjoy what we’re eating we’re less likely to overdo it, and we’ll avoid issues like emotional eating,” says Dr. Pedre.
• Relieve stress. Take some “me time.” Maintaining an exercise routine and practicing deep breathing relaxation techniques can do wonders for mental and digestive health, and help alleviate stress’ negative effects on the digestive system, such as gas, acid reflux and stomach cramps.
• Maintain a sleep routine. Get an adequate night’s rest of at least eight hours nightly. Your body and gut like predictability. Plus, staying up late could make you more likely to visit the fridge and eat that piece of chocolate cake that’ll lead to an upset stomach.
• Help your body naturally. Overeating or drinking is easy to do this time of year, but it can cause stomach distress. Check out local natural product retailers, which offer homoeopathic medicines like Nux vomica to relieve nausea, heartburn, acid indigestion or fullness associated with overindulgence of food or drink. While these uses have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for efficacy, Nux vomica is one of the most popular homeopathic medicines. It’s also easy to take. The pellets are quickly absorbed under the tongue without water, as opposed to being absorbed through the stomach, which may not be functioning at its peak. As a homeopathic medicine, it has no known side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, gas or drowsiness.
To learn about relieving a variety of acute stomach issues, explore the Boiron Medicine Finder app. This free resource, available on Android and iOS devices, allows users to find the right homeopathic medicine for many everyday conditions.
Both the stress and the fun of the holiday season can take a toll on gut health — take extra steps this season and beyond to feel your best.