The holidays are fast approaching, which means many of us will be tempted to overeat. This article discusses some of the best ways to support the digestive system and combat the effects of overeating.
Holiday Eating Tips
The foods we eat can directly impact our gut health. The gut microbiota consists of millions of bacteria that play a key role in various psychological, immunological, and nutritional bodily functions. The high fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients typically found in holiday foods can increase the number of bad bacteria in the gut, potentially causing a bacterial imbalance.
The following symptoms could be signs of an unhealthy gut:
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive gas
It’s important to know which foods can affect gut health. For example, bloating is a feeling of fullness, pressure, or heaviness a person might feel after eating. In addition to causing discomfort or pain, their belly can look swollen and larger than normal.
In most instances, bloating is caused by diet. Here are some of the top foods that can cause bloating and foods that can help ease it:
Foods that Cause Bloating
Foods that Ease Bloating
Spices that Ease Bloating
Alcohol sugars (low carb foods)
If you feel bloated after eating, get to the source: make a note of what foods you’ve consumed to determine which is the culprit. If bloating persists, consult with a physician.
Probiotics are a great way to keep the gut healthy year-round. Probiotics are beneficial because they help to nourish good bacteria in the gut while simultaneously decreasing the levels of bad gut bacteria. Also known as the gut microbiota or intestinal flora, an excessive number of bad bacteria in the gut could increase the risk of the following health issues:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Autoimmune disorders
- High blood pressure
- Lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
In addition to probiotics, prebiotics are essential for gut health. They provide nourishment to probiotics, help ward off constipation and promote smooth digestion.
Top Prebiotics and Probiotics
Eating prebiotics and probiotics could help keep holiday digestion issues to a minimum.
Note: Apple cider vinegar is considered a prebiotic, but also has probiotic qualities as well.
Top Exercises for Digestion
During the holiday season, don’t forget to exercise. The following exercises can help improve digestion:
Yoga consists of deep breathing exercises that help to relax both the body and mind. It helps to stimulate, massage, and tone the abs, which helps with digestion. Studies indicate yoga may be beneficial in eliminating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Yoga can also help to lower stress levels, which have been shown to increase gastric acid secretion, which is a direct risk factor for developing a peptic ulcer. 
Walking after eating can help stimulate the digestive system by speeding up the rate food is digested in the stomach. A 10–15-minute walk after meals may relieve abdominal bloating symptoms. 
Cycling can help reduce belly fat, which allows the digestive system to perform more efficiently. In addition, fat loss can provide more energy, regular bowel movements, and less bloating.
Bodyweight exercises can help strengthen the core, helping to improve digestion. Planks, sit-ups, and crunches help work the core, potentially helping to prevent gas, bloating, and other digestive issues.
Deep breathing can help a person relax and can stimulate the vagus nerve, which regulates the nervous system. The nervous system assists with digestion because it helps promote saliva production and normal blood flow to the organs that aid in digestion.
Stress and Digestion
For many people, the holidays can be a stressful time and that stress could have a direct impact on gut health:
Studies indicate chronic stress could lead to the excessive growth of bacteria that causes inflammation. Stress has been found to trigger inflammatory bowel disease in both children and adults. In addition, IBD patients are often exposed to stress, which could lead to mood swings or other mental complications. 
In another study, both stress and depression can reshape the gut’s bacteria through stress hormones and inflammation. The result is toxins, metabolites, and neurohormones released by the gut bacteria that could alter both mood and eating behavior. This bacteria also increases stress responsiveness and increases the risk for depression.
Here are a few ways to relieve stress during the holidays:
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t overextend yourself. Allow yourself time to relax and enjoy a little “me time.”
- Get some exercise. Exercise can release endorphins and ease feelings of stress. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity daily.
- Go outside. In addition to getting fresh ais and vitamin D, going outside could decrease cortisol levels, also known as the stress hormone.
- Ask for help. Seek the help of a professional if stress becomes too much during the holiday season. Help the digestive system during the holiday season.
Supplements can help ease any digestive issues. Here are the top supplements for digestion.
Atrantíl helps relieve abdominal discomfort and bloating caused by gut gas. Developed by gastroenterologist Kenneth Brown, MD, this all-natural product is a nutraceutical, which the FDA defines as “a dietary supplement that contains extracts, concentrates or combinations of vitamins, minerals, botanicals, herbs, or dietary substances that are used to supplement the diet by decreasing total dietary intake.”
While most products focus on adding new bacteria to the gut or simply treating symptoms, Atrantil gets to the root cause of bloating by attacking the bacteria that causes gas.
Atrantil contains a unique patented combination of three active botanicals:
- balsamea Willd extract. Calms the small bowel, allowing the other botanicals to work effectively in the gut.
- Quebracho extract. It soaks up hydrogen in the gut, which creates an unfriendly environment for the bacteria that cause bloating. In addition, it weakens their cell walls, which helps the third botanical be more effective.
- Conker Tree extract. A natural antibacterial, conker tree extract attacks the weakened archaebacteria, binding to its reductase enzyme and stopping methane production.
- Atrantil is non-GMO and does not contain peanuts, eggs, gluten, soy, shellfish, or milk. In addition to bloating, this product can be used as a supplement for IBS constipation and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Db12 - Digestives + Vitamin B12 contains Betain HCl, a naturally occurring digestive enzyme that supports healthy digestion. This enzyme supports the uptake of vitamin B12, and other key nutrients that aid in digestion. Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 plays a key role in digestion. It is water-soluble, meaning it can’t be stored away in fat cells for later use, and must be consumed as part of the daily diet.
This product is all-natural and contains no artificial ingredients. Other key ingredients that aid with digestion include the following:
- Folic acid
- Nettle leaf
- Betaine HCl
- Coleus Forskohlii (Herb),
Proflora®4R contains Aloe vera extract, marshmallow root, and Quercetin. This unique combination of ingredients helps the gut maintain a healthy microbial balance and additional nutritional support for “leaky gut,” a condition where intestinal walls become permeable, allowing bacteria and other dangerous toxins to seep through and enter the bloodstream.
Just one capsule of this all-natural, GMO free product provides the following benefits:
- Produces natural, healthy bacteriocins that help reduce harmful bacteria
- Stimulates anti-inflammatory activity, which helps to heal damaged intestinal mucosa
- Produces B-vitamins vitamin K, antioxidants and various enzymes
- Produces higher levels of lactic acid than other probiotics, allowing for a greater mobilization of the immune system
The holiday season is a time to eat, drink, and be merry. However, if done in excess this can lead to digestion issues. By following some of the tips listed here, you can decrease the risk of digestive problems this holiday season.
 Dharmesh Kaswala, Shamik Shah, Avantika Mishra, (et al). Can yoga be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease? Int J Yoga v.6(2); Jul-Dec 2013 PMC3734640. [PMID: 23930033]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734640/
 Mohammad Kazem Hosseini-Asl, Erfan Taherifard, Mohammad Reza Mousavi. The Effect Of A Short-Term Physical Activity After Meals On Gastrointestinal Symptoms In Individuals With Functional Abdominal Bloating: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench. 2021 Winter;14(1):59-66. [PMCID: PMC8035544]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33868611/
 Yue Sun,† Lu Li,† Runxiang Xie,† Bangmao Wang, Kui Jiang, (et al.) Stress Triggers Flare of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children and Adults. Front Pediatr. 2019; 7: 432. Published online 2019 Oct 24. doi: 10.3389/fped.2019.00432. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6821654/