It is the holiday season which means you are out at holiday parties, going to potlucks, or having holiday meals with your family. Chances are you have made a few (or more than a few) less than optimal choices when it comes to food, drink, sleep and movement while enjoying the celebration!
The outward manifestation of over indulging and under-recovering will be different for everyone, and can result in variety of symptoms including as exhaustion, brain fog, diarrhea, constipation and other digestive complaints, headache, rash, muscle weakness, joint pain, swelling, vomiting, and moodiness. Inside your body however, the effects are generally relatively similar and ingesting foods that may be irritating or provoking for you, your nervous system and your digestive tract and participating in endless stress-inducing activities without giving your body the tools, time and space to recover can cause inflammation to wreak havoc on your organs and systems. Treats, refined carbohydrates, sugars and alcohol can all cause inflammation and damage to the intestines, which in turn can trigger a host of symptoms throughout your body or exacerbate existing conditions. Ridding yourself of the substances and adjusting the lifestyle habits that are at the root of this inflammation are essential steps in recovering from your holiday indulgences as quickly as possible. By implementing a few smart suggestions and a simple 3 step process you can begin to feel better in a matter of days and be ready to face the New Year with energy and enthusiasm.
- Remove The Offenders.
Of course you want to put away all the treats and focus on some nutrient dense, whole, real foods. A few simple things to support your body in removing toxins:
Your kidneys are a major detoxification organ and making sure you are well hydrated with lots of filtered water will help flush your system and allow toxins to be removed rather than stored up. In addition to regular water, you can try coconut water, which contains electrolytes that may have been lost.
- Cruciferous Vegetables.
Raw or cooked, these are a rich source of bi-functional modulators to balance both detox pathways in the liver. These include watercress, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. The cruciferous vegetables contain phytonutrients such as sulforaphane, which is an isothiocyanate and a potent inducer of liver detox enzymes.
- Digestive Enzymes.
A quality digestive enzyme will help speed up the breakdown and absorption of macronutrients. Avoid anything that contains sugar or artificial colors, fillers, etc. This is not the time for chemical additives.
- Binding Agents.
Activated charcoal and bentonite clay bind toxins and help reduce gas and bloating. Be mindful of your water intake when using either of these as dehydration can result in constipation and further discomfort, which will only delay the detox process.
- Repair The Damage.
Inflammation occurs naturally in our body when there has been an insult or injury to it and you are well aware of those effects after a few holiday celebrations. Repairing this inflammation is essential to healing. Sleep and rest are what allow your body’s natural process of healing and repair to occur. However lethargic you may be feeling is probably due to certain body processes having been on overdrive or working harder than usual to compensate for the food related stresses. Give into your its intuitive demands and give yourself permission to rest.
You can also add:
- Omega-3 fatty Acids.
Fish oils, flax and chia seeds are full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. You can go up to 4 grams a day for a few days to get the anti-inflammatory pathways working optimally.
- Herbal Teas.
Ginger has high levels of gingerol, which gives it a natural spicy flavor and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body. It also has potent anti-nausea properties and can ease stomach cramping. The catechins in green tea speed up phase 2 liver detox pathways and balance phase 1 detox pathways. Chamomile can relax your nerves and your digestive tract, while peppermint can soothe an upset stomach. Opt for something other than mint, however, if heartburn is an issue.
- Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL).
DGL is an herb that’s been used for more than 3,000 years in the treatment of digestive issues, including ulcers and indigestion. DGL also supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the GI tract. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and demulcent (soothing) herb and has been shown to be beneficial in supporting the restoration of the gut lining.
- Natural Antibiotics.
Using a few food-based, natural antibiotics to reduce unfriendly germs in the bowel (such as onions, garlic, horseradish, olive leaf extract) will support your immune system in getting rid of offenders so you can concentrate on repair and restoration.
- Restore Regular Function.
Nearly 80% of your immune system is found in your digestive tract. Having healthy gut is crucial for optimal health and restoring regular function needs to be part of a good detox program.
All that celebrating most probably created a few changes in your bacterial profile. Studies have shown that it may only take a few days to effect substantial change in both the negative and positive directions. While your gut has an amazing ability to adapt, that holiday binge might not be doing it any favors. Help replenish your healthy gut environment with a good probiotic supplement. If they are available, adding some fermented vegetables to your plate is further way to boost and support those good gut bacteria.
Glutamine is an amino acid that is great for repairing damage to the gut, helping the gut lining to regrow and repair and undoing the damage caused by a few too many holiday indulgences. It is a vital nutrient for the intestines to rebuild and repair, supports metabolism and cellular detoxification and curbs those cravings for sugar and alcohol that may begin to creep up when trying to detoxify your body.
Chicken soup is not just soul food, there really is a reason that doctors and mothers alike recommend it when you may be feeling less than your best. All bone broths including beef, chicken, fish, lamb are staples in the traditional diets of every culture because bone broths are nutrient-dense, easy to digest, rich in flavor and they boost healing. Slow cooked bone broth is very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline. The gelatin in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract that may have been disrupted through the holiday season. Eating some broth based soups will not only make you feel better, it will support you recovering optimally too!!
Following this 3-step plan along with getting in some slow movement and spending a little time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine will go a long way in restoring feelings of well-being and making sure you are ready to embrace the New Year with all the enthusiasm and gusto the next part of your journey deserves!