Eater's remorse

Photo: istockphoto.com/Roberta Osborne
You couldn't pass up a second helping of turkey and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. That last piece of pumpkin pie was calling you. And now the pain begins. That dull burning sensation could either be indigestion or heartburn – two separate problems. Indigestion or dyspepsia is an upset stomach usually brought on by too much food or from eating too quickly. Heartburn is a burning feeling from the oesophagus as stomach acid splashes up. Either one is uncomfortable. Holidays are the perfect time for indigestion because fatty foods, like ham, gravy and pie, slow down the emptying of the stomach while releasing the hormone CCK, responsible for relaxing the intestines and sphincter. You know what that means. Relief is not at the pharmacy Your typical over the counter antacid is a combination of aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide and simethicone. Unfortunately, aluminum can cause bone damage and the magnesium severe diarrhea. Older adults with kidney problems should stay away from magnesium antacids. Both ingredients have been linked to muscle weakness, painful urination, dizziness, irregular heartbeat and vomiting. Herbal health Treat your stomach with a bit of tenderness with some natural remedies.
  • Chewable DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) is a popular heartburn folk remedy. Licorice decreases inflammation and prevents harmful stomach bacteria while stimulating blood flow to stomach tissue.
  • Aloe vera juice is a popular European remedy that cools an irritated oesophagus. Just be sure it contains no aloe latex, aloin or aloe-emoin compounds, since these are powerful laxatives.
  • Slippery elm, the principal ingredient in herbal throat lozenges, coats the oesophagus to reduce irritation and help digestion.
  • Marshmallow herbal tea is another way to coat the lining of the oesophagus and settle the stomach. Consult a doctor before taking marshmallow if you have diabetes. Pregnant or nursing women should also avoid this herb.
  • Baking soda mixed in some lukewarm water is often effective. Mix half a teaspoon into half a glass of lukewarm water.
  • Peppermint tea relaxes the stomach and since the key ingredient, menthol, is rapidly absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestine, it's an effective remedy for cramps, gas and nausea.
  • A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one cup of warm water can also help both heartburn and indigestion.
  • Soothe the burn and aid digestion with some green aniseed or anise aid (also called European anise or sweet anise). Star anise and caraway won't do much and should be avoided.
  • Papaya and pineapple both contain strong digestive enzymes that reduce inflammation and bloating.
  • Stay upright after a heavy meal and resist the call of the couch. A walk is probably the easiest solution. And, of course, not eating as much.