Many of us know the feeling when we’ve overindulged at an event or over the festive season. Most people experience indigestion from rich foods, yet when combined with larger portion sizes and alcohol the conditions are set for a perfect storm of digestive complaints such as bloating, reflux and indigestion. Digestive symptoms show up relatively quickly and can often linger even once we’ve returned to our normal eating habits.
Overindulgence can bring painful, disruptive or embarrassing digestion problems. Common complaints include constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and heartburn, often with sufferers feeling they have few treatment options.
Sometimes even after returning to a normal diet these symptoms may persist. This could be due to a number of underlying reasons;
We all have a combination of good and bad bacteria in our gut. When we overindulge in refined carbohydrates and alcohol we feed the bad bacteria which can result in an imbalance. Cutting down your sugar intake and taking probiotics can be a good way to replenish the good bacteria, as well as eating plenty of high fibre foods that act as prebiotics (food for the good bacteria) in the gut.
Feeling bloated and gassy after a rich meal often signifies that the liver is not producing enough bile. Reducing or removing alcohol from your diet helps to detoxify the liver. You may also wish to consider taking herbal supplements to replenish the liver, particularly after extended periods of overindulgence.
Many people eat their meals whilst doing something else; reading, talking, driving or working on their computer. When we don’t take time to prepare and chew our food properly the stomach struggles to break down the food completely resulting in undigested food entering the intestine. The result of course is bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea, amongst other symptoms. So next time you eat a meal, take the time to prepare it well, ensure you sit to eat and try to eat mindfully; savouring the flavours and textures of each mouthful and ideally chewing slowly before swallowing.
When symptoms persist well beyond the period of overindulgence it may be worthwhile seeking professional guidance and assessment for a potential food allergy. Some people are sensitive to common foods such as dairy, tree nuts and gluten containing grains.
While conventional medicine is a vital part of healthcare, herbal medicine can play a useful role as well. Senna is one of the better known herbal remedies for poor digestive health, with others including peppermint, dandelion and fennel.