Your Belly Needs a Break

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After the overindulgence of New Year and Valentine’s your system is loging for a rest

All that scarfing of alcohol, Christmas roasts, Chinese New Year snacks and Valentine’s chocolates are finally taking a toll. What can we do to relieve ourselves of this overindulgence without the drastic measures of detox and harsh diet?

Indigestion explained

Too much stomach acid causes stomach pains, bloating, excess wind, belching or heartburn. Indigestion is the general term used to describe these symptoms.

To protect itself from the stomach acid, which is as corrosive as car battery fluid, the stomach produces a mucous that lines its inside. If the amount of acid is too much for the mucous to contain, the stomach lining gets inflamed. This results in the pain and discomfort felt as indigestion.

Heartburn or reflux oesophagitis, is a form of indigestion. Excess acid gets forced back from the stomach into the food gullet (oesophagus) which, unlike the stomach, doesn’t have a mucous lining. You feel burning in your chest and you have an acid taste at the back of your throat. The pain can be so bad you might think you?e having a heart attack.

What causes acid?

Rich, fatty and spicy food such as chocolates, pickles, curries, sauces, stuffing, mince pies, and Christmas puddings and cake, all contribute to acid build up in the stomach. Add to this alcohol, smoking and stress.

12 ways of preventing indigestion

Indigestion and its symptoms can often be prevented or at least minimised by following a few, standard guidelines.

1. Never smoke before or while eating. Smoking often causes you to swallow small amounts of air, which form air pockets in the digestive tract with the added pressure of food. Smoking also slows the body’s ability to digest food.

2. Eliminatecertain gas forming foods such as beans, cabbage, cucumbers and onions.

3. Eat at a table in an upright, sitting position.

4. Go for a small walk after eating, which will help stimulate the digestive system.

5. Don’t chew with your mouth open and don’t talk so much during meals, which causes you to swallow air.

6. Never exercise or dance following a large meal.

7. Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing.

8. Chew food thoroughly and slowly, allowing for a leisurely meal.

9. Try not to consume alcohol with food. Drink plenty of water instead.

10. Avoid caffeine.

11. Antacids neutralise excess stomach acid and help relieve indigestion.

12. Eat at least a few hours before going to bed to ensure a silent night.

Remedy

Ginger

Many find that consuming ginger with a meal helps to reduce suffering and stomach upset. Fresh ginger can be ground and added to foods or taken in tea or capsule form. Herbalists recommend consuming 500mg of ginger with a full glass of water after each meal.

Enzymes

Enzymes which help to speed the digestive process often eliminate heartburn altogether. Papaya enzymes are sold in chewable capsule form, and are taken immediately following a meal with a full glass of water. Enjoy the fruit itself for dessert.

Fibre

Consuming more fibre nutrient foods is another natural way to alleviate future suffering. Bulk foods help to absorb excess acid and gas, and allow your body to rid itself of toxins more quickly. For those who respond poorly to high fibre vegetables, fibre pills and beverages are an alternative.

Green tea

Green tea has been used for centuries in Japan as an after dinner drink. Green tea aids the body in the digestion process, and helps soothe the stomach’s sensitive tissue.

Herbal infusions

Herbal teas containing even trace amounts of peppermint, chamomile, ginger, rosemary, licorice root or catnip help the stomach lining repair itself. Often, one cup of herbal infusion following a meal is enough to keep heartburn and indigestion at bay.

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