Holiday Gastrointestinal Issues

Spend your holidays focused on celebration, family and friends, and not on gastrointestinal issues. Whether it’s the stress of the festivities or the rich, delicious sweet treats, here’s our tips for making sure your events aren’t cut short due to digestive discomfort.

Know the Triggers. There are many foods to avoid during the holiday season.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol can cause bloating, gas and inflammation to the digestive organs. For patients with IBS, alcohol and fizzy drinks can increase the severity of symptoms including cramping and diarrhea. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also cause heartburn and acid reflux which can develop into long-term damage or chronic illness.
  • Caffeine: Almost any coffee drinker will tell you that the stimulant can cause diarrhea, but it can also increase your chances of developing heartburn and digestive discomfort associated with GERD. Look out for coffee or espresso flavored cookies and treats to avoid hidden caffeine ingredients.
  • Spicy & Acidic Foods: Similar to the above mentioned symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux or changes in bowel habits, spicy and acidic foods can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms.

Keep Healthy Habits. When the hustle and bustle of the holidays is in full gear, many of our healthy habits go by the wayside in favor of convenience.

  • Hydration: Hydration is important in keeping the digestive system lubricated and flowing freely. While water consumption is the most common and easiest way to stay hydrated, eating foods with high water content can also help you. Vegetables like cucumbers and celery, and fruits like strawberries and watermelon are high in water content.
  • Exercise: Keeping with your routine is as important leading up to the new year, as it is with New Years’ resolutions. Even if the gym or pool isn’t on your schedule, stay active at home or in between errands with a simple yoga practice, stretching routine, or resistance band workout. Exercise and activity is great for gut health, but also for reducing overall  stress and tension.
  • Find Moderation: The days of sneaking as many cookies and treats as a kid are gone. Overeating, and over indulging, can cause digestive discomfort through acid reflux, heartburn, intestinal issues and more. Even eating too much of healthy foods can slow digestion and allow pressure to build in your stomach. Slow digestion can lead to stomach cramping and constipation.

Don’t Stress

Stress comes in lots of forms, and can be felt throughout your body in lots of different ways. From mental stress, tension headaches and other physical symptoms, your stress response can be triggered in big and little ways. Try to manage your amount of stress by planning ahead and avoiding stressful situations. Too much stress can increase gut sensitivity, reduce blood flow and even alter the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.

No matter your plans for holiday celebrations, make choices that support your gut health and avoid discomfort. The team at Great Lakes Gastroenterology is here to help guide your choices, answer your questions and troubleshoot any issues you may be having. Schedule your appointment at one of our Northeast Ohio locations today!

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