Finish on a good note

As we approach the holiday season with all its meals, parties and treats galore, I thought it might be a good idea to get us prepared.

Being able to comfortably digest all those goodies helps in one's enjoyment of the event, so I am offering a few tried-and-true digestive aids this week. While the Tums commercials are cute, I thought some natural methods would be a better place to start. I hope they assist you in making the most of your holiday invitations.

First up is a treatment I have suggested before for other situations, as it is a good general health tip: Drink plenty of water daily. Your daily intake of water is the main source of replenishing your system's balance of fluids so that your muscles aren't fatigued, your skin stays toned, and your organs don't have to work too hard. It is also proven that choosing water over a high calorie snack will help you if you're working to keep your weight at a healthy point.

Next is one that I'm sure you've heard and may think applies more to older people: Eat your fiber. While eating prunes does qualify as adding to the fiber in your diet, this isn't something that's only good for Granny. Both soluble fiber (found in oats, legumes, apples, citrus fruits and flaxseed) and non-soluble fiber (whole grains, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, and potatoes) are good for you. The fiber in these foods helps to keep things moving through your digestive system, and soluble fiber works to lower your cholesterol and control your blood glucose levels.

Keeping up the good bacteria in your system can help you fight the good fight as well. That's the benefit of eating fermented foods and probiotics. Yogurt with active bacteria cultures, foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and drinks like kombucha tea all provide healthy bacteria that help maintain a proper balance in your system. This will not only aid in proper digestion but also help to maintain your immune system, another important point for enjoying the holiday season.

Healthy herbs and plants are often discussed as remedies, and there are some very old-fashioned recommendations for helping digestion. Both ginger and mint have been used for all kinds of digestive ailments for centuries:

Chinese apothecaries have used ginger for centuries. Ginger, it seems, helps your body move food from your stomach further along into your intestinal tract. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce pain in numerous studies. There is no need to take large doses either; the usual recommended daily dose is 1-2 grams. Ginger pills are even known to work relieve motion sickness and nausea.

Mint was first recognized by the Greeks for its medicinal and culinary properties. It can help to relax smooth muscles like those in our digestive system so it works fast to relieve a tummy ache. The essential oils in mint also help to prevent the growth of some bad bacteria, so it works to maintain that healthy balance we need.

Last, I want to mention a French tradition - the 'digestif'. You might think I am trying to rely on urban myths to make my case here, since I am a known fan of most things French and also a nice drink with a meal, but I assure you this method too has its proven benefits. A drink taken after a meal is called a 'digestif' in French; it is the other side of the 'aperitif', which comes before the meal. Traditional digestif drinks often contain herbal elements that are meant to aid digestion, and the time taken to relax and let your system work is also not a bad idea. Many countries have drinks in this style:

  • Anise-based spirits such as Aguardiente from Columbia, Ouzo from Greece, Arak from Turkey, and Sambucca from Italy
  • Aquavit from Scandinavia has caraway and dill
  • Jagermeister from Germany contains ginger among its herbal ingredients
  • Chartreuse from France comes in two varieties - green and yellow - one more spicy, the other more sweet; both contain herbal and spice ingredients

However you choose to enjoy your holiday season and all its indulgences, I wish you a healthy and happy end to another glorious year.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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