That rich Christmas dinner is around the corner just after you survived Thanksgiving. If you fear bloating, indigestion and acid reflux, try these!
Do you stifle your burps because you think that letting them out is bad manners?
No, it is entirely natural and relieving. The food meets hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in the stomach and them getting together produces gas. That gas is lighter than the food, takes up room and levitates toward your diaphragm. Then it wants to get out.
And it should, because blocking the impulse not only makes you feel full, you also neglect the mechanism designed to provide this very relief. Just do it quietly and slowly behind your hand and nobody will take offense. Not even your very critical Aunt Wilma.
Here in Germany especially the older generation uses herbal liqueurs called “bitters” as a digestive aid. The taste is not for everyone, but some people swear it helps them after a heavy meal. Me they remind of medicine and kill all the pleasant flavors still lingering in my mouth.
Some scientists assume that the alcohol gets the body to produce more stomach acid and digestive enzymes like pepsin, which can help digestion. Others, however, say that alcohol actually slows the whole process down.
But try them and gauge your mileage. Just keep in mind that both researcher camps unite behind one recommendation: one shot glass of bitter is enough.
Bread, Calcium And Antacids
After rich meals, some people don’t get a harmless burp. They get very unpleasant heartburn, that feels like someone fired off napalm right behind your breastbone. That’s pretty close, because what happens is that stomach acid is traveling up your gullet. If you feel like that, you don’t need a bitter, because acid you already have more than enough.
A simple relief comes from eating a piece of dry bread, that acts like a sponge soaking up the acid. What often also helps is chewing a calcium tablet after dinner. Some research shows that these reduce reflux.
But be careful with antacids containing aluminium. Using those for longer times can affect your bones and nervous system, because the aluminium likes to take up lodgings there.
Eat Slowly And Chew Well!
Last but not least what already mom told you: chew your food thoroughly and don’t wolf it down. Chewing produces saliva and saliva helps digestion. And the less you act like a frantic black hole sucking in roasted turkeys and pecan pies, the less air you swallow.
All that on a health, fitness and nutrition blog! But let’s face it: if you’ve been good all year, it’s silly to not enjoy a nice Christmas dinner with your family and loved ones. We, by the way, will be having a traditional German “sauerbraten”: a beef pot roast with red cabbage and potato dumplings.
Picture courtesy of Hajime Nakano.