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Feasting on the holidays: what helps against bloating and heartburn
Cookies, festive roast, punch, mulled wine and sparkling wine: On Christmas days there is usually more feasting than usual. The sumptuous meals not only provide additional hip gold, they can also lead to physical complaints such as feeling of fullness, heartburn and flatulence. If you follow a few simple rules, you can support your digestion and come over the holidays without complaints.
At Christmas there is usually a lot of food. In addition, the movement is often neglected. Many do not get it so well: stomach pressure, feeling of fullness, acid regurgitation or heartburn are the result. But if you follow a few simple rules, you can help your stomach to get well over the holidays. The German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) has compiled some advice in an older communication.
Acidic stomach contents flow back into the esophagus
As the specialist society explains, heartburn and acid regurgitation occur when the strongly acidic stomach contents flow back into the esophagus or throat and irritate the sensitive mucous membranes there.
"The reason for this is ultimately the sphincter at the entrance to the stomach, which separates the esophagus from the stomach like a valve," explained Professor Dr. med. Siegbert Faiss, former chief physician at the Clinic for Gastroenterology and Interventional Endoscopy at the Asklepios Clinic Barmbek.
The sphincter usually prevents acid from rising from the stomach. So-called reflux can occur if the sphincter is too weak and the pressure inside the stomach is too great.
According to the information, the force of this gastric inlet valve slowly decreases with age, but can also be affected by external influences such as alcohol, nicotine or high-fat foods.
If you put too much pressure on your stomach, you run the risk of overwhelming the sphincter. In very overweight people and in pregnant women, the pressure in the abdomen is also increased - and with it the risk of reflux.
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Do not eat large portions
But what does this mean for the festive meals? "The most obvious, but also the most important rule is, first of all, not to eat too large portions, but rather spread them throughout the day, smaller ones, and chew them well," says Faiss.
Restraint is essential when consuming alcohol and nicotine, especially if you are prone to heartburn.
For many sufferers, the reflux complaints mainly occur in a lying position, although gravity no longer helps the sphincter at the stomach entrance at work.
"It is therefore advisable not to eat too late in the evening and to place a second pillow in bed or to put the bed up," recommended Faiss. The slightly elevated sleeping position reduces the pressure on the sphincter.
Take a walk after eating
Measures that accelerate gastric emptying can counteract reflux and a feeling of fullness. One of the best ways to stimulate digestion is by walking - especially after eating. Exercising in the fresh air not only gets the circulation going, it also stimulates blood flow to the intestine, making the meal easier to digest.
Cigarettes work - but are not recommended
Many people who smoke also swear by cigarettes to stimulate digestion. According to experts, the glow stems can obviously really help.
As the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) explains on its website, smoking stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system in the brain, and "this leads to an increase in gastric juice production, as well as increased intestinal activity and thus stimulates digestion," writes the DKFZ.
Nevertheless, doctors warn that the cigarette should be used as a digestive aid after eating.
Coffee can help some people
We also advise against digestive schnapps. The stomach is additionally burdened by the alcohol, because it inhibits the stomach muscles and thereby extends the time that the chyme spends in the stomach.
If at all, according to the DGVS, the essential oils of the herbs contained in the herbal schnapps have positive effects on the digestion, but the consumption of high-proof alcohol after eating is generally not recommended.
The following applies to coffee and espresso: the drinks stimulate bowel movements in some people and promote bowel movements. They do not help with emptying the stomach.
Behavioral adjustments and home remedies
Various medicinal teas, for example with fennel, caraway, lemon balm, chamomile or peppermint, are also suitable as home remedies for bloated feelings. These have a calming and relaxing effect on the digestive tract.
Medicines such as acid blockers are also available to combat various digestive disorders, some of which are available over the counter in pharmacies. However, according to experts, this should only be used in exceptional cases.
Under no circumstances should such remedies be taken over a longer period of time - two weeks or more - without medical advice. Simple behavioral adjustments such as more exercise and smaller portions as well as the use of certain home remedies such as ginger often work just as well against the various digestive complaints. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.