The holidays are fast approaching, which means that your calendar is undoubtedly filling up. From Thanksgiving dinners to holiday work parties, events, and gatherings, the final months of the year are full of fun, excitement, and holiday cheer.
While many are already starting to feel festive, there is a large segment of the population that is feeling anxious about the coming season. Nearly 40% of adults are dealing with a functional gastrointestinal issue. Unfortunately, their symptoms do not take a break for the holidays and can turn an otherwise wonderful event into a time of anxiety and inconvenience. Functional gastrointestinal issues include symptoms like acid reflux, heartburn, dyspepsia, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
These issues can lead to feelings of dread about traveling long distances without access to a bathroom, stocking up on over-the-counter medications to treat reflux, heartburn, and other painful symptoms, and an overall concern or worry about what the days ahead may bring.
In addition to those dealing with chronic bowel issues and disorders, it is not uncommon for the average American to deal with stomach discomfort at some point in their lifetime. This is especially true during the holiday season. If you are traveling long distances the combined stress of travel, airport or gas station food and snacks, fast food, and change in sleep patterns can all contribute to changes in your body. This is not even to mention the copious amounts of delicious food you will partake of once the destination is reached!
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Dealing with Holiday Digestive Issues
Luckily, there are some proactive steps you can take now to help heal your gut and set your body up for a wonderful holiday season.
1. Engage in a Holiday-Ready Diet
No, this doesn’t mean you have to jump on the latest trend diet bandwagon. Being aware of and intentional in what you eat year-round can set up your stomach and gut for success. Now is the perfect time to jumpstart your digestive health.
You can start taking control of your gastrointestinal health by adding helpful elements to your diet. Some great things to be intentional about including in your daily caloric intake include:
- Fiber rich foods to jumpstart sluggish digestion.
- Fermented foods as a natural probiotic source to offer a gut reset. These include things like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and yogurt.
- Probiotic supplements to enhance your gut health.
In order to keep your belly happy this holiday season, there are also some foods that you should avoid or choose sparingly. Certain foods create more gas within the body than others, leading to pain and other digestive issues. These foods include things like broccoli, kidney beans, onions, apples, and some yogurts. Plan meals ahead of your travels and avoid gas-causing foods to promote bloat-free travel.
2. Be Drink Conscious
Food is not the only way to keep our gut health in check and promote healthy digestion. Additional ways to curb digestive issues is through what we drink. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day. It is recommended that you consume one half of your weight in ounces of water per day. For example, a 180-pound individual should drink 90 ounces of water every 24 hours. Mint tea is another great addition to your daily intake when digestive issues are present. Mint tea is a home remedy for nausea and indigestion that can be readily available in your tea cabinet.
3. Work out your Body
Exercising is a great way to support digestive function. For more severe issues, start with gentle exercises to ease your symptoms. Being upright and active promotes healthy digestion, and so something like a slow walk around the block can do wonders in easing belly bloat and pain.
4. Take Time to Relax
Stress before a big event can often lead to stomach issues. Ongoing stress can also cause long-lasting gut issues. In fact, stress can disrupt brain/gut communication and cause digestive issues that may even appear to be chronic. Taking time to relax each day, even just for a few minutes, can help promote healthy digestion and overall wellness. Determine what activities help you relax and begin adding them to your schedule. Ideas include taking a walk, yoga, meditation, reading a good book, or spending time with your pet.
5. See your Upper Cervical Chiropractor
Misalignments in the upper cervical spine (neck) can interfere with the function of the brain stem which can be a critical factor in many health problems, including digestive disorders. These misalignments can be caused by a number of things – bumps, falls, sports injuries, car accidents, birth trauma, and emotional stress. Health problems may appear immediately after the injury or several years later.
Scheduling a consultation with your chiropractor can help determine the root cause of your digestive issues. From here, your upper cervical chiropractor can work to re-align the spine and restore proper communication between your brain and your gut. Even if your digestive concerns are few and far between, proactively seeing your upper cervical chiropractor can prevent future issues and problems from occurring. There’s no better time than the present to gift yourself a stomach-issue free holiday!