Digestion and overindulging in holiday meals.

The holidays are here which means time spent with family and friends and big holiday meals. Overindulging in food and drinks is inevitable, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American's weight increases by 0.2% over Thanksgiving and 0.4% over Christmas.

In addition to the probable weight gain, large meals tend to leave most of us feeling uncomfortable, with symptoms ranging from bloating and cramps to gas and maybe even an upset stomach.

Overeating taxes our body in a variety of ways. It can cause our stomachs to expand which pushes against our other organs making us uncomfortable. It also forces our organs to work harder to break down the food. Additionally, the stomach may produce more acid which causes heartburn, or gas leaving us feeling bloated.

Since we know the holidays go hand in hand with overeating, below are four tips to avoid the inevitable discomfort as we embrace meals with family and friends this holiday season.

Go On A Walk An easy stroll after a big meal speeds up the time it takes food to move from the stomach into the small intestines. It will help stimulate digestion, even out blood sugar levels and reduce bloating. Not to mention it will burn off some of the pesky calories consumed. But keep in mind that a rigorous workout is not recommended as it can have the opposite effect and delay digestion.

Take A Digestive Enzyme Rich and heavy foods put extra stress on our digestive system. Our liver and pancreas work overtime to secrete enzymes which break down food. Taking a full spectrum digestive enzyme like Arthur Andrew Medical’s Devigest, assists the breakdown of fats, sugars, dairy, carbohydrates, proteins, and fibers, which can greatly reduce digestive distress. Whole foods naturally contain the necessary enzymes to break down food whereas processing and cooking foods removes these necessary enzymes. In addition to reducing gas and bloating, enzymes can make you feel less tired and more satisfied, so you don’t need to go back for seconds.

Hydrate Drinking water or herbal tea after a big meal aids with digestion. Water helps break down food so your body can absorb the nutrients and helps move food through the intestines. Herbal teas do much of the same thing promoting the movement of food through the digestive tract.

Avoid Lying Down Lying down after overeating can make you feel worse. You should wait two to three hours after a big meal before lying down. Our bodies optimally digest food while we are upright. Lying down puts pressure on the stomach, which can cause stomach acid to rise into the esophagus and lead to heartburn or acid reflux, as well as slowing down digestion.

The holidays are a joyous time - to be spent with family and loved ones. It’s ok to indulge, even overindulge, just be prepared to suffer the consequences. Follow the above tips to overcome that unpleasant post-meal discomfort so you can continue to enjoy the holiday festivities with loved ones.  

Justin Marsh is the CEO of Arthur Andrew Medical, a Scottsdale-based manufacturer of enzyme and probiotic based dietary supplements. Arthur Andrew Medical’s products are rooted in science with no processing agents or fillers. They are dedicated to conducting extensive research and clinical applications with dietary supplements for the advancement of natural health alternatives.