While the food and traditions may vary, every Thanksgiving table has one thing in common: tons of food. Our digestive system is always hard at work, and the sweets, fats & gluten that come with the holiday season can be especially tough on our friendly flora. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help your body stay happy and healthy -- even if you reach for that second piece of pumpkin pie!
Our Gut-Brain Axis is Important
There’s a good reason our gut is referred to as our “second brain”; the brain is actually the organ most affected by our diet! We now know that when you want to heal the brain, you should to look at the gut-brain axis for clues as to what may be happening.
While you may have heard that the tryptophan in turkey is what makes you sleepy post-Thanksgiving feast, it’s actually the large quantity of food that brings on the brain fog. There’s nothing wrong with eating a little extravagantly on the holidays, as long as you give your digestive system some extra love!
Start the Day With a Fiber-Rich Meal
While it may be tempting to hold out on eating until the big feast, a fiber-rich breakfast such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, or fruits such as pears, blackberries, oranges and apples will help keep you full so that you don’t show up to dinner famished. Fiber also feeds the friendly flora in our gut, ensuring that the foods you do indulge in later on can be properly broken down.
Drink Plenty of Water
Increasing your water intake is another important support piece for our digestion system, as it helps our body quickly break down the food and absorb nutrients. Drink plenty throughout the day, and consider skipping the alcohol or eggnog at the table and opt for a glass of water with lemon instead. The acid from the lemon will slow down the absorption rate and prevents blood sugar spikes.
Keep Some Ginger Handy
Grab a ginger chew or take a capsule of ginger powder after you eat to reduce inflammation and nausea. Ginger also aids gastric motility, which means that it cuts the time it takes for the stomach to empty in half, and quicker digestions mean a reduced chance that you’ll experience that icky post-meal bloat. Gingerol, the compound responsible for the majority of ginger’s benefits, also reduces intestinal gas and soothes the intestinal tract.
Take a Post-Dinner Stroll
Round up some willing participants and take a stroll around the block! It’s a great way to bond with those you may not see often, and it will also have a positive effect on your digestion and energy levels. Walking can help increase the rate at which the food moves through the stomach, which will alleviate that heavy, full feeling. The increased blood flow from light exercise will also help clear glucose and keep blood sugar levels in check, which means no groggy or cranky crashes.