Overdone it on the mince pies?

SEASONAL TREAT: Overdoing it could leave you feeling bloated

SEASONAL TREAT: Overdoing it could leave you feeling bloated

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OVERINDULGENCE, it seems, is part and parcel of the festivities even though we know we’ll pay for it later.

And it’s not just our expanding waist bands that tell the tale – indigestion is, for many of us, an all too common occurrence.

From heartburn to bloating, to constipation and stomach cramps, the symptoms are varied, but each is a reminder that your digestive system is having trouble coping with the amount or type of food it is being asked to process.

’Tis the season to be jolly and for many of us, bloated, gassy and constipated.

If you’ve overdone it this Christmas there’s plenty you can do to help get your digestive system back on track.

With the New Year celebrations still to come I don’t wish to dampen the festivities too much, but thinking twice about what you’re eating does seem the obvious place to start.

Red meat and fatty cuts of meat are hard to digest, so swap these for lean cuts of turkey, chicken or fish. Cheese is also very hard to digest, so maybe give this a miss when the cheeseboard is being passed around.

You should also reduce your intake of sugary foods, cakes, biscuits and rich puddings. So yes, you may want to think twice before tucking into another Christmas pudding! It’s one of the worst offenders! Why not opt for a delicious fresh-fruit salad instead?

Don’t drink too much liquid with your meal as this just dilutes your stomach enzymes.

Coffee, tea and alcohol are common indigestion triggers and so should ideally be kept to a minimum.

Eating little but often throughout the day to avoid overfilling the stomach is also recommended and avoid wearing clothes that are too tight around the waist.

Sit down. Your body finds it hard to run around and digest at the same time, so sit down and relax; don’t bolt your food, and give yourself five minutes once you’ve finished eating before you jump up and start attacking the day again.

Chew your food. As obvious as it may sound, you’ve no idea how few people actually do more than close their teeth a couple of times around a mouthful of food before gulping it down – it barely touches the sides before it lands in the unsuspecting stomach below.

Chewing is an act that not only breaks your meal down to a manageable size, but it also alerts the stomach to the imminent delivery of food. If you don’t chew, your stomach won’t have produced the digestive enzymes it needs, resulting in chaos and confusion and a hefty dose of acid indigestion.

For a helping hand with digestive enzymes a prebiotic supplement like Molkosan Vitality taken half an hour before each meal can help.

For bloating and indigestion associated with feelings of fullness and wind there’s Digestisan from A. Vogel. It contains Cynara (Artichoke), Dandelion and Boldo to help stimulate digestive enzymes, and Peppermint to help reduce the symptoms of colic and wind. Dilute 15 to 20 drops three times a day in a little water.

If you are constipated drink plenty of water (not coffee and tea, as they can make things worse), and drink it away from meals so as not to dilute your digestive juices.

And for a real blast to get things moving again try Linseed. Start with a low dose and only take for a short time.

Peppermint can help to reduce the symptoms of colic, bloating and wind. It also relaxes muscle tension in the colon which helps to relieve spasms.

If symptoms persist, consult your GP.

For further advice, speak to Laura Williamson and her team at Castletown Health and Beauty Store in Malew Street. Call 825812.

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