How to fortify your stomach

In this season of partying and eating out, the digestive system can go for a toss. Take precautions like avoiding salads or having an early dinner before heading out

Shweta Taneja
Updated24 Dec 2012, 07:49 PM IST
A welcome drink: Red wine, in moderation, is good for the gut flora. <br />
A welcome drink: Red wine, in moderation, is good for the gut flora.

Our stomach might be able to bear partying once a week but an every night affair plays havoc with it. “Eating rich food that too at odd hours is not good for anyone,” says Rupali Datta, nutritionist at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi. Add to that excessive consumption of alcohol and before you know it, you are stricken with flatulence, nausea and that feeling of wanting to throw up. So does that mean you ignore all invites to parties this season? Not really.

“Moderation is the key. If your limit, for example, is two glasses of beer, then stick to that, even if it’s free,” says Datta. Moreover, if you are partying everyday, give your system a break by having an early dinner at home before you head to the do.

Once at the party, avoid raw food, including salads, and all milk-based products as they spoil easily. “Caterers during the party season buy in bulk, so the ingredients might not be fresh,” says S.P. Misra, professor, department of gastroenterology, Moti Lal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, adding: “Uncooked food items have pre-formed toxins that can cause infections and lead to food poisoning, gastroenteritis and loose motions.”

During the day, go on a diet of liquid and semi-liquid foods. “Liquids not only give your stomach a break, they also help in dissolving fats allowing substances to pass through more easily,” says Datta. Keep away from caffeine which dehydrates the body and rehydrate your body with lukewarm water, fruit juice, lemon water, herbal tea and soups. Here are some other ways to prepare your stomach for the festive indulgence.

Preen on prebiotics

Prebiotics, the non-digestible food in your intestine which helps probiotic bacteria thrive, help in preventing food poisoning and stomach aches, according to the study “Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics: Gut and Beyond” by US-based biotechnology company Kibow Biotech Inc., and published in July in the journal Gastroenterology Research and Practice. The research revealed that prebiotics are effective in preventing not only gut-based disorders like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), digestion and traveller’s diarrhoea but also in maintaining general health. Help the little invisible bacteria friends of yours with a healthy dose of onions, garlic, leeks, legumes, lentils, bananas or asparagus, all of which contain prebiotics.

Sip on red wine

Who said all alcohol is bad for the stomach? A cup (272ml) of red wine daily can improve the bacteria composition in the gut, lower your blood pressure and reduce levels of a protein associated with inflammation. This surprising result was from a study “Influence of Red Wine Polyphenols and Ethanol on the Gut Microbiota Ecology and Biochemical Biomarkers”, published in the May edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the study, the subjects were divided into three groups—one group drank a cup of wine, one had no alcohol and one group had gin. Though even gin was found to be good for gut flora, it was wine which was the most effective. The study suggests drinking a cupof red wine a day to improve digestive health.

Do yoga

Fifteen minutes of morning yoga can strengthen your stomach, says Sanjib Kumar Patra, assistant professor, department of yoga and life sciences, at Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA), Bangalore. He suggests a combination of 5 minutes of Surya Namaskar and 10 minutes of Pavanmuktasana. “Surya Namaskar is like a general tonic for your health which regulates the endocrine functions of the body and Pavanmuktasana, which in literal translation means ‘release of the winds’, helps empty your intestine of flatulence that you develop due to a disruptive eating routine,” Patra says. After partying, he suggests a day of eating only fruits to eliminate accumulated toxins and relax your stomach.

Wash your hands

A habit as simple as thoroughly washing your hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet can reduce diarrhoeal infections by up to 42%, according to a study carried out by researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London. Published in October, the study also revealed that most people didn’t wash their hands properly. Of the 272 participants the researchers interviewed, only 39% washed their hands before eating. Besides washing your hands, also ensure that your nails are scrubbed clean.

Spoon up triphala

A spoonful of triphala powder—an ayurvedic concoction of three herbs: amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki—every day increases the body’s immunity and makes it difficult for you to fall ill. In the research for the study “Significant Increase in Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes and Natural Killer Cells by Triphala: A Clinical Phase I Study”, published by researchers from Thailand in the October edition of the journal Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a daily dose of 1,050mg of Triphala was given to healthy volunteers for two weeks. On testing, the researchers saw a significant increase in natural killer cells which help build immunity. Since it has a strong taste, we suggest you mix it in honey and have it preferably in the morning.

Chew on peppermint

Peppermint, the herb that is used in chewing gum and toothpaste, is a fabulous way to aid digestion, curb flatulence and calm an irritable bowel, claims an extensive research on the herb by researchers from the division of paediatric and adolescent dermatology, University of California, US, and published in the December 2010 issue of Dermatitis. Another research on the topic conducted in 2011 by the University of Maryland Medical Center, US, notes that peppermint calms and relaxes muscles, including those of the stomach, making it easier to pass gas and improve the flow of bile, which digests fat in the body. The research advises a safe way of injesting the herb: Steep 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves (easily available in supermarkets) in one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes, strain and cool the water and drink it in between meals. It reduces queasiness.

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First Published:24 Dec 2012, 07:49 PM IST
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