Say ho ho no to indigestion and heartburn this holiday season

Posted on December 14, 2017 by Helen Field

Family sat at the table eating Christmas dinner

What a pain!

There's nothing like indulging in a few chocolatey treats and sitting by the tree with a tipple or two. But when that familiar burning sensation in your chest comes to visit, you know it's time to say 'no' to those last two chocolates lying lonely in the box.

What is heartburn?

Also known as acid reflux, heartburn occurs higher in the digestive tract. It causes pain in the chest and is often triggered by fatty foods, big meals or alcohol.

What is indigestion?

When you get a pain in your stomach - the lower digestive tract - you're likely to be experiencing indigestion. It's often triggered by eating rich, spicy or fatty foods, or drinking alcohol or drinks containing caffeine. Acid reflux is one of the most common causes of indigestion.

Want to know how to soothe heartburn and indigestion this Christmas? Read on for some healthy tips.

Peppermint tea to soothe indigestion

If you have indigestion, peppermint tea is one to try. Compounds in peppermint have shown to soothe symptoms of indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and lower gut pain. Avoid peppermint if you have heartburn though - it can cause further discomfort.

Pick some mint fresh from the plant and put them in a mug of hot water. If you don't have fresh mint, use mint teabags.

Ginger to ease heartburn

Used for treating digestive troubles for centuries, ginger can help soothe heartburn by helping to reduce the production of stomach acid. Ginger can also help relieve nausea, which may be useful after an overindulgent Christmas lunch!

Try a few slices of root ginger in hot water as a gentle ginger tea.

Apple Cider vinegar to treat discomfort

Surprisingly, another remedy for heartburn is apple cider vinegar. The acidity of the cider vinegar mimics your stomach acid, making it easier to digest food properly, especially fatty foods, if your stomach doesn't have enough acid or if you eat foods which aren't very acidic.

Try stirring between one teaspoon and two tablespoons of cider vinegar into a glass of water and drinking it before a meal.

Coriander seeds to calm things down

These are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and for relieving indigestion. The seeds contain urandrol which detoxifies the liver, increases appetite, and in effect cures indigestion. In India, people often chew a handful of ginger, cumin, coriander, fennel and cardamom seeds after a meal, to aid digestion. Coriander has more of a cooling effect as well as stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.

Try combining a teaspoon of coriander seed powder in boiling water for a simple indigestion remedy.

Baking Soda to soften the pain

When acid comes up from the stomach into the food pipe, it can cause a burning sensation in your chest. You can use baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, as an antacid for heartburn. It's an alkaline substance so it neutralises the excess acid, making you feel comfortable again. Baking soda shouldn't be used often as it can cause other problems if your body becomes too alkaline.

Try drinking half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drinking it every two hours until you feel better.

Loosen clothing to feel relaxed

Tight clothing can make you feel uncomfortable, especially if you're sitting down having a meal. Your stomach needs some room to expand a little, so tight fitting shapewear or belts that push your stomach in can leave you feeling sick, or suffering with heartburn.

Try wearing a long, loose fitting dress - so you don't need to keep your legs warm with tights. Or, loosen your belt when you're sitting down to dinner. You'll be able to enjoy those dinner parties much more this Christmas. 

Look after your tum by avoiding these

If you want to avoid heartburn and indigestion this Christmas, there are a few foods and drinks you should avoid. You can also try eating smaller portions, avoiding high fat foods, and not smoking, as these are known to trigger heartburn.

  • Meats such as beef and fatty chicken wings
  • Crisps, chocolates, sweets, biscuits and cakes - the higher fat content in these make you more likely to get heartburn
  • Acidic fruit juices - orange, lemon, grapefruit, cranberry, and tomato juice can trigger heartburn
  • Alcohol and caffeine - spirits and wine can cause heartburn - you may want to skip the after dinner espresso too
  • Dairy - cream, ice cream, mayonnaise, and even cottage cheese can be too much for your stomach acid to handle if you're prone to heartburn 
  • Spaghetti and pasta - these contain grains which can cause acid reflux

Chew gum to keep the juices flowing

Chewing gum after a meal might help combat heartburn as it makes you produce more saliva, which is alkaline. This means the acid in your food pipe will be neutralised and forced back into the stomach when you swallow.

Sit up straight to take the pressure off

Slouching's not just bad for your back - it's bad for your digestion too. When you slouch while eating, the tube from your food pipe to your stomach bends, causing an obstruction - much like when a garden hose is trodden on. The increase in pressure created can cause heartburn as digestive gasses build up, pushing stomach acid up to your food pipe.

Try sitting up straight when you eat. As you get used to doing it each time, it will become a habit and you'll eventually do it without even thinking!

Have a pain-free Christmas

Everyone deserves to eat and drink the things they love, especially at Christmastime. Feeling great makes the fun go further though, so keep these tips in mind in case you do end up with heartburn or indigestion. And have a happier Christmas!

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