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December 24, 2016
Slip, cheat, fall off, off-day, go crazy, enjoy.
Call it what you will, many people don't exactly have the cleanest eating habits around holiday time. I know many people simply like to enjoy the abundance this time brings. Abundance of love, gifts, help, happiness, and...food!
While of course I would like each year to be healthier than the last, I am not unrealistic about the things people enjoy eating around this time of year. And I'm not about to preach some unrealistic "perfect diet" thing.
What I do want to share with you are some very simple and super effective remedies that will help reduce any bloating and digestive troubles that come with the indulgence of these rich meals. These remedies are so simple and so effective that I'm pretty sure you're going to love me forever. :)
These remedies may be consumed before or after any meal. Typically it is recommended before a meal to stimulate your digestive tract to produce the enzymes necessary to break down food as it enters your body. But if you forget to do it before the meal, you can still do it after and it will still have a good effect to help your stomach and intestines break down food and absorb nutrients properly.
These two simple and effective remedies are:
1. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): 1 tablespoon diluted in a little bit of water. If you don't like the taste of vinegar or you find it a little harsh, dilute in more water. If you love vinegar, you don't have to use more than an ounce of water. My favorite brand is Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar has the amazing effect of improving the function of the stomach. It is particularly effective in stimulating the stomach acid necessary to break down food properly. Without enough stomach acid, your food just sits in your stomach and has to rot a little before it breaks down enough to go into your intestines. And nobody likes rotting food in their stomach! This is one major reason people feel bloated. Apple Cider Vinegar has other amazing health benefits. It helps reduce inflammation in your body, for example. So its an easy and great addition to your day if you have digestive problems or body inflammation.
2. Bitters: Order a club soda with bitters or a small amount of bitters in 1 oz. water. You can sip on it before or after a meal or have it with club soda during your meal.
For those who don't like the taste of vinegar or simply want another option, bitters is an amazing digestive aid. Bitters is also great because you can find it anywhere there is a bar in sight, which is most restaurants these days. And of course, you can simply buy some and have some in your house cabinet to aid your digestive troubles. I like the Digestive Bitters from the brand Herb Pharm (one dropper in 2 oz. of water before a meal).
Bitters is amazing at stimulating all your digestive juices starting with the enzymes in your saliva that promote proper food breakdown and digestion. It also stimulates stomach acid production just like ACV and aids the digestive process all the way down the tract to the intestines.
Contrary to popular belief, stomach acid does not cause acid reflux. Stomach acid is a natural, normal and necessary secretion of the stomach. The main cause of acid reflux is not enough stomach acid. Organs are very intelligent and have checks and balances. Stomach acid, in sufficient quantities, sends a signal to the sphincter at the top of your stomach to close, thus preventing the reflux or "heartburn". When your stomach doesn't have enough acid (most commonly due to high stress, overeating sugar/carbohydrates, and bacterial infections), the food has to sit in your stomach and stays there breaking down slowly before it goes down into your intestines. While it sits there, the little bit of stomach acid you have will actually seep through the upper stomach sphincter and give you that reflux (because the normal signal to the sphincter to close doesn't register). So Apple Cider Vinegar and Bitters are a great way to not only maintain good stomach function but also for the prevention of bloating and acid reflux after meals. (**NOTE: If you know you have a stomach ulcer, I do not recommend the use of Apple Cider Vinegar as it may aggravate the stomach ulcer.)
Oh, and these remedies aren't just for the holidays. You can use them in general if you are experiencing bloating or acid reflux. These are such helpful remedies that I constantly get raving feedback about the positive results. People are typically shocked by how much better they feel in such a short time.
So throughout the holidays (or any other time) while you are enjoying family, friends, and rich foods, reach for one of these two simple remedies to support your digestion. It takes less than a minute to do, and the effects will give you energy and make your belly and your body feel much better. It's a very Functional way of supporting your body.
Mariela Villaverde, L.Ac., MAOM, ACN
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