It’s not rude to burp at the Christmas dinner table, it’s good for you
Burping is widely viewed as the ultimate in bad manners at the Christmas dinner table. In fact, burping serves a primary purpose, which is to expel air accumulated in the upper part of the stomach. But a small number of people find it impossible to release gas trapped in their digestive tract, making the holiday season a particularly painful time of year.
This condition is known medically as retrograde cricopharyngeal dysfunction or “no-burp syndrome,” and can lead to loud gurgling sounds as well as excessive flatulence after eating and drinking. It is believed that the best form of treatment is Botox injections into the throat muscles.
For the rest of us, here are six slightly more traditional steps that can help avoid the discomfort as well as any Christmas indigestion-related mistake.
Graze instead of feast
The typical festive habit is to gorge ourselves on handfuls of super-sized meals. Many of us will have probably experienced a Christmas Day where we eat relatively little before indulging in a huge lunch in the middle of the afternoon.
According to Dr. Megan Rossi, a nutrition researcher at King’s College London who posts on Instagram as @theguthealthdoctor, it’s better to eat multiple small-sized meals throughout the day rather than one large meal.
“This can overwhelm our digestive capacity, leading to loose stools and bloating,” she says. “You can still eat the same amount of food, but just divide it up because there are limitations to digestion especially for things like fructose or fructose.”
Avoid wheezing bucks on an empty stomach
When it comes to Christmas Day, it may be tempting to get straight into the champagne. But your GP prefers that you eat at least a small amount of food beforehand.
“Ideally, you don’t want to drink alcohol too early in the morning on an empty stomach,” says Dr Somaya Aziz, an NHS GP and founder of Say GP. “Hydrate yourself with water and eat a light meal to avoid the severe effects of alcohol. Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the chances of reflux and excess acid.
Do not eat for three hours before bed
Christmas is a time for enjoyment, but if you can, try to avoid turkey sandwiches before bed, especially if you are prone to digestive problems.
“We know that when we sleep, our digestion slows down,” Rossi says. “So food can get stuck in your intestines longer, and that can increase the pressure that builds up and opens the trapdoor that connects the intestines and stomach to the esophagus, and that can lead to things like reflux in the evening.”
Don’t eat too quickly
When you have Christmas lunch, try to make your food last a little longer rather than gobbling it up quickly. Studies have actually found that spending more time chewing food can improve the rate of absorption of nutrients, reducing the risk of digestive problems.
“I read that you should aim to chew food at least 32 times,” says Aziz. “I would say it’s a bit far-fetched but getting these whole clumps (of food) is not helpful. Chew enough so you get a good soft texture before swallowing, and that should help digestion as well.
If you regularly suffer from indigestion or know that some common Christmas foods tend to irritate your stomach, Aziz advises getting an over-the-counter antacid. These are medications that come in liquid or tablet form that help neutralize the acid in the stomach to relieve symptoms such as heartburn.
“There are products like Gaviscon or Rennie that don’t require a prescription, and you can take first thing in the morning to help relieve any digestive issues,” Aziz says.
Eat something normal
Finally, another practical option is to simply give your body a little break from all the spices and foods and eat one very simple meal every day.
“During Christmas, you eat all the herbs and spices, a lot of fat, fried foods, and we don’t normally eat all that,” Aziz says. “We have natural acid in our stomach anyway, and it thickens it up. So eating something sensible, not too rich or weird, or a normal or normal meal, will help your digestion.”
Daily Telegraph (London)
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