During the holiday season, it is easy to overeat and under-exercise. Often, our digestive systems are put under strain as a result of this indulgence. While you can’t undo the damage that has already been done, you can take steps to improve your slow digestion, reduce bloating and feel better. Read on for some tips to help you boost slow digestion and reduce bloat after the holidays.
What is Bloating?
When food is backed-up in the stomach, your body responds by sending more blood to the GI tract to help speed up the process, leaving the rest of your body without its usual supply of oxygen-carrying blood. That process can leave you feeling fuzzy and disoriented. That’s the main reason why a majority of people crave a nap when they get bloated.
Bloating occurs when the GI tract becomes filled with air or gas. This is usually caused by the food we eat. Some foods produce more gas than others. Bloating can also be caused by lactose intolerance (dairy problems). Other common reasons for bloating include:
- Swallowing air (this can happen when you chew gum, smoke, or eat too fast)
- Weight gain
- Menstruation (in some women)
You can reduce bloating by making some simple changes to your diet after the holidays. Most importantly, increasing your water intake improves the strength of bowel contractions and encourages food to move more quickly through your digestive tract. Second, try eating some yogurt with probiotics. This will restore the natural balance in your gut flora (the good bacteria that live in our stomachs) which should help with digestion and reduce bloating (and any digestive issues you may be experiencing).
Herbal remedies have also been found to relieve bloat. They include peppermint and chamomile tea, anise, caraway, coriander, fennel, and turmeric. If your bloating is caused by something more serious, consult your doctor for a more thorough diagnosis.
How Can I Boost My Slow Digestion After Overeating?
Our daily lives are usually filled with different things that stress us out. Most recently, Covid-19, but managing that stress is important for your digestion. When we experience stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol as part of our fight-or-flight response. Cortisol causes the body to deter blood away from the digestive system and toward the heart, brain, and limbs, meaning our digestion slows down.
When our digestion slows down, our food sits, resulting in bloating and gas. The holidays can be a stressful time with friends and family all in one place, but for the sake of our digestive system, we have to learn to remain tranquil to avoid that awful bloat. One of the best ways to relieve stress during the holidays is to exercises and what better way than a nice bodyweight workout with your friends and family to ease any holiday tension and burn some extra calories.
“WHEN DIET IS WRONG, MEDICINE IS OF NO USE. WHEN DIET IS CORRECT, MEDICINE IS OF NO NEED.” – AYURVEDIC PROVERB
What Dietary Changes Can Help Me Beat My Bloat?
After the turkey, mashed potatoes, and dessert, who wouldn’t need a boost to their digestive system? If you want to give your digestive system a boost, find ways to get ginger into your meals. A popular ingredient in Asian and Indian meals as well as healing remedies does much more than add flavor to dishes. Research has shown ginger can help with infrequent stomach discomfort and gas. Its carminative effect can help break up and dislodge gas trapped in your GI tract.
One of the main roles of the large intestine is to absorb water from the food we’ve eaten. If you aren’t drinking enough water (about 2-3 liters daily), the large intestine absorbs whatever it can, causing bowel movements to be hard and difficult to pass. This can contribute to occasional constipation and bloating.
Drinking plenty of water allows the body to get adequate water absorption. Proper hydration also keeps the mucus lining of your gut healthy, which means our food can move through more easily, reducing bloat. While it’s important to drink water throughout the day, keep water consumption to a minimum while eating. Drinking during meals can dilute your stomach acid, which is crucial to breaking down food so it can move from the stomach to the small intestine to be further digested and absorbed.
How Can Exercise Help My Bloating?
Exercise can help keep your digestion moving smoother and alleviate any bloating. Working out doesn’t just strengthen the muscles of our arms, legs, and core. It also strengthens our internal muscles and helps them work more effectively. Our GI tract desperately depends on our internal muscles to contract and relax to help move our food through our digestive system. This is called peristalsis, and it’s essential for good digestion. Regular exercise helps strengthen and tone the muscles that are responsible for peristalsis to happen.
Making sure our food can move efficiently through the GI tract is one way to prevent bloating since food that moves too slowly can cause more fermentation (the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat) and excess gas to build up. As previously mentioned, regular exercise also helps lower our stress levels, which results in better digestion.
The workout doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective at improving digestion and lowering bloat. Simplistic movements, like walking or home workouts, are so beneficial for improving our digestion and lowering bloat.
Takeaway On Beating The Post Holiday Bloat
Bloating isn’t a fun experience and it happens to almost everybody. But there are different things we can do to improve this discomfort. Increasing our daily water intake, adding ginger to our foods, and exercising are some great ways to combat the bloat.
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