If you are like a lot healthy-minded people, you try not to overdo it over the holidays. But with all the festivities, it’s sometimes difficult not to eat or drink those special foods that you normally avoid—let alone eat too much of them. As we approach the last weekend of the year and the upcoming New Year celebration, we wanted to make sure that you know about easy-to-take natural remedies if you do hit a brief period of indigestion. For help, we turned to Lori DiBacco, ND, a naturopathic doctor in private practice in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, who specializes in detoxification and endocrinology. Here is what she recommends to her patients with bouts of indigestion…
For occasional periods of indigestion, there are several safe natural remedies to choose from that have very few or no adverse side effects when taken as directed on the label.
WHAT CAN HELP…
While many people may turn to conventional over-the-counter treatments for indigestion, such as antacids, these may actually hinder the stomach’s natural production of acid. We need this acid to help break down our food and make nutrients more easily absorbed by the body. What many naturopathic doctors find: The root of many people’s digestive problems, especially as they get older, is lack of stomach acid or insufficient digestive enzyme production. Several natural remedies can help—some by stimulating the body’s production of enzymes…others by soothing irritated tissues. Patients are encouraged to experiment to find the remedy that works best for them.
Digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes, which are readily available in supplement form at drugstores and health-food stores, help to increase the supply of enzymes produced by the body. Best choice: “Full-spectrum” enzymes, a type of supplement that may contain as many as a dozen or more enzymes that help with the breakdown of all types of foods. When to take them: Right before or in the early part of every meal.
Herbal teas. Ginger tea can help stimulate digestion—and your body’s production of digestive enzymes. When to drink: Drink a cup right before or in the early part of a meal. Slippery Elm or licorice tea can help soothe irritated tissues and reduce inflammation. When to drink: When symptoms occur. These teas are available either in tea bags or loose at health-food stores.
Apple cider vinegar. This type of vinegar is known to help stimulate your body’s production of digestive enzymes. When to take: Start with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in any amount of warm water. If that doesn’t help, gradually increase the amount of apple cider vinegar up to three teaspoons. When to drink: Right before eating meals.
PREVENTING STOMACH UPSET
One way to prevent future bouts of indigestion is simply this: Slow down. Eat slowly and chew your food completely. This gives the enzymes in your saliva time to begin digesting food…and signals the stomach to start making and secreting your digestive enzymes.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
If your indigestion continues, your symptoms might be a sign of an underlying digestive problem, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis, ulcers, gallbladder disease or irritable bowel syndrome. If that’s the case, speak to a holistic doctor who can help you figure out exactly what is causing the indigestion and can treat it accordingly.