Does heartburn put a damper on your holiday celebrations? Dr. Andrew Myers offers relief through natural and supplemental remedies.
Q: Dr. Myers, what can I do to avoid heartburn during the holidays?
A: For many, holiday together time is spent at the dinner table, feasting on delicious, and often heartburn-inducing, foods. Unfortunately, according to Harvard Health Publications, over one-third of Americans suffer from heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest that can be uncomfortable enough to impact even the happiest of celebrations.
If you get mild heartburn a few times a month, consider trying some natural strategies. Avoid foods that induce the condition, such as coffee, excessive red wine and carbonated beverages. Drinking plenty of water aids digestion, and adding a little lemon juice might help, toocitrus flavonols may support digestive hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which further assists digestion. As you eat, slow down and chew your food well. This gives your body time to digest the meal and also keeps you from overeating. Taking a daily supplemental digestive enzyme can help support overall digestive function, as well. Since digestive enzymes naturally decrease with age, this can be especially effective in older adults.
After meals, drink peppermint or ginger tea, both of which support healthy digestion. Try to stay upright two to three hours after eating; gravity helps make sure food flows properly through the digestive system and that stomach acid doesn’t enter the esophagus. Sleeping with your head above your stomach can have a similar effect; try propping the head of your bed up or putting a wedge under your pillow.
If you have chronic or severe heartburn, or if none of these natural remedies help a milder condition, see your doctor. Left untreated, this condition can cause other issues in the body.
Drinking plenty of water aids digestion, and adding a little lemon juice might help, toocitrus flavonols may support digestive hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which further assists digestion.
Q: Dr. Myers, I always seem to get sick during cold and flu season. How can I help protect my immune system?
A: According to the National Institutes of Health, people in the United States get around 1 billion colds each year. While it’s not possible to completely avoid getting sick during the winter months, there are steps you can take to support healthy immune system function.
Since sugar may impact immunity, limiting your intake of sugar, including sugary foods and drinks, is a good first step. Also, make sure to stay hydrated. Winter cold can dry out the mucous membranes of your nose and throat, impairing immune function; water helps maintain optimal hydration. Since germs can stay alive on the hands for up to three hours, according to the Maine Medical Center, be sure to wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your face. And because holiday celebrations and parties often result in late nights, be certain to get plenty of sleep to support optimal immune function.
Perhaps most important, look to your nutrition. Maintain a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh, whole foods. Try increasing your intake of garlic and green tea to support optimal immune function, and consider adding supplemental vitamin C or echinacea to help with immune health. While researchers havent pinpointed the exact reason, exercise has also been shown to be an important part of a healthy immune system.
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Dr. Andrew Myers, an expert in nutrition and preventive medicine and the co-author of Health Is Wealth: 10 Power Nutrients That Increase Your Odds of Living to 100 and Health Is Wealth: Performance Nutrition. Visit healthiswealth.net for more information.