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Pass the Turkey – Not the Gas! How to Avoid Indigestion and Acid Reflux During the Holidays

Enjoy Those Wonderful Holiday Meals While Avoiding Indigestion

We all look forward to enjoying with our loved ones, the succulent turkey and gravy and yams and pies associated with the holidays.  But for those of us who suffer from either occasional or chronic indigestion, eating in general and certainly the larger meals we consume during the holiday, can pose an uncomfortable problem.

Though some of the pain and indigestion we feel can be caused by ulcers of the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine), many of us who experience pain, gas or bloating, don’t have ulcers but are not digesting efficiently the foods that we eat and may also be making poor food choices.  Trying to get rid of the pain and indigestion is not the best approach to digestive issues.  Clearly, avoiding them, to begin with, is a better approach.

Many people live on antacid medications like Zantac, Prilosec, or Prevacid.  This is not good for many reasons.

1-       They don’t cure the problem
2-       These medicines can interfere with bone health
3-       The proton pump inhibitor medicines like Prilosec can significantly increase the risk of bacterial diarrhea

Also, a much lesser-known fact is that low stomach acid can actually be the cause of your digestive problems, and result in digestive problems and symptoms which can be similar to having too much acid.

My first suggestion to those of you, who suffer from chronic indigestion or acid reflux, is to experiment with your diet.  My brother suffered from indigestion and acid reflux ever since he was an adolescent.

Though I told him what I thought he should do, like many family members, he was stubborn and didn’t heed the advice.   Recently another health issue caused him to have to eat less and healthier foods (less fatty foods, less salty foods) and 40 years of indigestion stopped within 2 months of making those changes.

You might want to try a 1 to 2 day fast. Then on day 3 introduce some fruits into your diet in the morning.  Then for lunch try consuming some vegetables.  My guess is that you will not experience any digestive problems doing this.(make sure you stay well hydrated during the fast).

For dinner, try introducing some sliced turkey or chicken breast and once again keep track as to whether or not you experience any digestive issues.  If you don’t, then it is very likely that other foods that you typically eat, when not on a limited diet, are probably causing your digestive problems.

Slowly introduce one at a time, the other foods that you typically eat and it should be very clear which of them are problematic for you. Some people find that by reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine, their digestive problems may be relieved.   This approach will help you in the long-term to develop a food menu that should eliminate all or most of your digestive concerns.

But, I also mentioned that I was going to give you some advice as to how to reduce or avoid the indigestion issues that can arise with holiday meals.

There are enzymes in our stomach and our intestines that are released to help our bodies break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.  When our bodies are not producing enough of these enzymes the break down of the nutrients is incomplete, subjecting our internal digestive system to be exposed to partially digested foods that can cause pain, gas, and acid reflux.

Therefore, many people find that they can reduce or even eliminate their digestive problems by taking digestive enzymes just prior to having a big meal.

One comprehensive and well-formulated digestive enzyme product is available from Jarrow Formulas. It is called Jarro-Zyme Plus.  Take 3 capsules with each meal.  Many people find this helpful.

Another excellent product to take to reduce or eliminate digestive problems is artichoke extract. Go on the internet or to a well-stocked health food store and purchase a standardized extract of artichoke.  It should be standardized to “cynarin” content (the more the better) take enough of the extract to get 500 mg. of cynarin and take 3 times a day.   This helps many people with their digestive problems especially those caused by difficulty in digesting fats.

Finally, if you do get bloating or gas or pain, instead of taking the antacid products discussed before, you can try teas of chamomile, peppermint, fennel or combinations thereof.

One last tip…  When lying down, lie, or sleep on your left side to reduce reflux. Anatomy and gravity play a significant role in heartburn symptom frequency, length, and severity.  While on your left side, your stomach will be positioned below your esophagus, which makes reflux more difficult.

Indigestion is not fun and it takes away from the pleasure of enjoying meals with your family and friends.  Experiment with the information above.  See what works for you.  One or more of the solutions mentioned above may very well be your answer and eliminate the need for antacid products or eliminate the symptoms you have been suffering with.

Happy Holidays,

Curt Hendrix, M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S