Festive Season Left You With Indigestion? Here’s How to Handle It
Heartburn, gas and an unhappy gut are common after the excesses of Christmas. Here are some expert advice.
24 December 2019
All Credits: PA
With all that wine, chocolate and cheese, it’s no surprise our systems might be feeling a little worse for wear by the end of the festive season.
This might mean painful trapped wind, burning acid reflux and a less-than-happy gut for some of us.
“Indigestion symptoms can include fullness, bloating, nausea, belching, or pain in the upper abdomen,” explains Phil Day, superintendent pharmacist at Pharmacy2U. “Heartburn can also be a symptom of indigestion: this is when stomach acid passes up into the oesophagus (gullet) and causes a burning sensation in the chest, hence the name. This process is also called ‘acid reflux’.”
So, what can you do about it?
Think about how you’re sitting and lying down
Make sure you keep a good upright posture while eating and drinking – you want to help your food and stomach acids move downwards! If heartburn is playing up, pay attention to your body positioning between mealtimes too.
“Relaxation can help reduce heartburn but slumping on the sofa in a horizontal position isn’t great,” says Day. “Sit up, or at least try and raise your head and upper body, so it will be harder for stomach acid to travel upwards. If it’s an ongoing problem, you can buy wedge-shaped pillows for your bed.”
Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan, says sleeping position can make a difference too. “If you do go to bed suffering with heartburn, try sleeping on your left-hand side, as this works with gravity to move reflux back down into the gut,” Hobson advises.
Over-the-counter formulas can bring relief
Most of the time, a pharmacist is an ideal first port of call if you want advice on easing symptoms.
“There are several medicines you can buy without prescription that will help,” says Day. “The most common are antacids, which neutralise excess stomach acid to stop it irritating the oesophagus. There are also medicines such as Gaviscon that form a raft on top of the stomach contents, which then lines the oesophagus to protect it.”
If you’re interested in herbal remedies and supplements, Hobson says: “Supplements such as Healthspan GastriSoothe (£12.95/AED61.58 for 24 sachets) offer a natural remedy for heartburn, using ingredients such as aloe vera and bicarbonate of soda. Also, artichoke extract has been shown to help ease indigestion and bloating.”
Ask your pharmacist about suitable remedies
Think about giving your gut a reset
If your gut and digestive system are feeling out of whack, there may be a few things you can do to help restore balance. Generally speaking, our guts tend to be happiest with a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fibre and veg.
Remember to drink plenty of water too, to keep well hydrated. A high-quality pre and probiotic supplement could help top up and rebalance your gut bacteria as an additional supportive measure, and getting outdoors for a good walk can help things along.