The holidays are upon us, and chances are some of you will choose to indulge this season. Keeping that in mind, I thought I’d offer a few tips to help you stay as healthy as possible while doing so. The usual indiscretions are alcohol, sugar and overeating. I’ve come up with some great strategies to help you handle these better so you can enjoy the holidays even more.
Obviously, not over consuming would be a prudent goal, however any amount of alcohol will have detrimental effects on your body. First and foremost, make sure you are well-hydrated prior to drinking and do your best to hydrate with water during and after alcohol consumption; including the following day.
If you often feel hungover the day after consuming, there’s a good chance you have a sluggish liver and digestive tract imbalances. The best way I’ve seen this overcome is by taking a probiotic before going to sleep. If your tolerance is especially low, taking probiotics before and during consumption may provide you the needed the support for functioning well the following day.
Additionally, alcohol damages the gut lining, which usually takes about two weeks to heal. [Keep in mind, this 2-week time-frame is referring to the damage from alcohol only. It will most likely take longer if you have other gastrointestinal complications.] This damage has repercussions whether or not you’re conscious of it. Damage to the gut lining can cause altered immune function leading to food sensitivities, microbial imbalances, autoimmune flare-ups and more. In order to help heal the lining, slippery elm and/or marshmallow tea twice a day for two weeks following alcohol consumption should help. If you want to go “all out” as I do, drink one cup to one quart of extremely high quality chicken or beef broth daily for one to two weeks. A simpler option would be to consume a tablespoon or more of high quality powdered gelatin in water (again for about two weeks).
Some people can handle eating sugar just fine, although not most of the patients I see. It’s safest eaten after or with a meal. This will allow it to absorb more slowly and cause less fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which is one of the major pitfalls of sugar consumption. Eating it during or after a typical holiday meal may not be ideal from a food combining perspective, but that’s a topic for another article.
For those with microbial imbalances in the digestive tract (i.e: overgrowth of yeast, harmful bacteria, etc.), sugar can exacerbate this complication as it can feed unfriendly bacteria and yeast, while also stirring up any viruses or parasites that may be present. If this is your case, a probiotic (or extra from what you normally take) may be called for as extra support.
This may actually be the worst of all indiscretions as it will contribute to the same harmful reactions as alcohol and sugar. It takes an unprecedented toll on the GI tract and liver. The liver has to process everything that goes into the digestive tract, and excessive food is particularly taxing. When you combine that with alcohol and sugar, it’s a recipe for serious harm to your health. Even if you don’t consume alcohol and sugar, it’s still very tough on the body. My best solution to this (holiday or not) is to chew your food thoroughly and slowly no matter how good it tastes. A mindful way to eat to help prevent this is to set your fork or spoon down between each bite. You’d be surprised how much quicker the satiation response kicks in to your conscious mind and prevents you from wanting that second serving.
If the food is so incredible and you must have another serving , consider taking digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid to take the burden of your digestive organs and help break your food down more readily.
I hope this helps you enjoy the upcoming holidays in a healthier, more enjoyable way. And don’t forget the most important health factors for the holidays (and every day) – lots of fun, smiles, laughter, and spending quality time with those you love.
Dr. Rob D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Diplomate and Board-certified Teacher of the International College of Applied Kinesiology