Five ways to smoother digestion this festive season


WClose up of woman's tummy with her hands making a heart shape in frontWith the festive season just starting to ramp up many of us may find our digestion suffering. Bloating, acid reflux and flatulence can all become more troublesome, generally down to an increase in sugary and fatty foods, as well as alcohol intake which can irritate a sensitive gut.

So why not use nature’s powers of healing to help soothe any digestive issues and help the festive season to run more smoothly in the process.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer offers five natural ways to support your digestion.


Drink dandelion coffee

Dandelion is known as a ‘bitter herb’ which has been used for centuries to aid digestion. Bitter herbs work in a number of ways, but essentially, they stimulate the brain to release digestive enzymes.

shutterstock_272284241 Dandelion Tea July16

In the case of dandelion, it has great affinity for the liver and helps the gall bladder to release bile, further aiding digestion.  Even better, it’s delicious, and great with a splash of plant-based milk such as oat.  Try to drink two or three cups of dandelion coffee throughout the day, regardless of whether you’re out partying or not.  It’s readily available in health food shops.

Mint to the rescue

The herb mint is frequently used in cooking, in both sweet and savoury dishes.  However, mint is great for the digestion and really soothes an unhappy tummy. Even better, mint tea infusions, drunk at the start of a cold can better manage unpleasant symptoms.

Mint tea

Mint is especially helpful for relieving bloating and flatulence and can really calm everything if you enjoy a cup of mint tea after each meal. If your digestion is feeling comfortable before you go to an event, it’s less likely to cause problems later.


If mint tea is not your bag, then why not cook some super-healthy mint and pea soup, which can also make a great lunch time filler. Even better, this soup has a good amount of protein to keep energy levels sustained and ready for your festive fun.

Enjoy camomile tea

Of all the herbs, camomile is certainly one of the most soothing and is really useful for an upset or challenged digestive system. It also helps to calm the nerves and easy anxiety, another cause of digestive problems.

A cup of camomile tea and camomile flowers next to it

As with all herbs and ancient remedies, camomile’s mode of action is not fully understood, except that it contains an array of plant flavonoids which have also been found to reduce inflammation and pain throughout the body and calm mild skin complaints.  Try to drink at least two cups daily but for best effect sip some after a heavy meal if possible.

Eat fruit away from other foods

Many of us struggle to break down fruit sugars and other starches in certain fruits.  Therefore, it’s best to eat fruit away from other foods as a precaution or if you know this to be a problem for you.

shutterstock_328862462 canteloupe melon slices Aug17

Melon is certainly one fruit that is best eaten as a snack.  Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates all require different enzymes as a key part of the digestive process.  And sometimes they ‘clash’ which becomes especially noticeable when eating melon with protein or fatty foods.

Keep acidic foods to a minimum

Acid reflux can become more of a problem, particularly if you’re susceptible to this unpleasant symptom, during the festive season. Coffee is one thing that can be very irritating to the digestive tract and creates acidity. If you know acidity is a problem for you, especially after drinking alcohol, then it’s worth quitting coffee for a while until everything settles.

shutterstock_49969261 coffe cups May15

It would also be worth body swerving fried foods, raw onions, and chillies if acid reflux or general indigestion is an issue. And if you really don’t want a good night out ruined by digestive distress then, why not include angostura bitters in your cocktail?  As the name suggests, it’s a bitter herb and has a long history of use for aiding digestion.

So, why not try some of these natural ways to relieve digestive distress during the festive season.

Stay well.


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Banish the bloat for 2018: top digestion tips

For many of us, Christmas over-indulgence may have negatively impacted on our digestion leading to uncomfortable bloating. But with the Christmas festivities behind us, and a New Year on the horizon, what is the best way to prep your body so you can start the New Year energised and ready to go?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top tips for beating the bloat this New Year!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic


The humble dandelion plant delivers some wonderful health benefits; most importantly it is a natural liver cleanser and helps to detoxify the blood. Since the liver is crucial to digestive processes, if it’s working well then the digestive system will automatically run smoother.

Dandelions also aid digestion by encouraging the flow of bile which primarily breaks down fats, thereby reducing any likelihood of bloating. Dandelion can be drunk as a tea or coffee, both of which are readily available in health food stores.


Whilst talking about the liver, there’s no better way to start the day than with a glass of lemon water with ginger.

Lemon is a liver detoxifier and ginger feeds the friendly gut bacteria, which helps to reduce any bloating. Start with a large glass of warm water, add a couple of slices of fresh lemon and some crushed ginger. Apart from cleansing the liver, your skin will also glow after a week or so and your digestion will run a whole lot smoother!


We have billions of friendly or good gut bacteria, living quite happily in the digestive tract. However, sugary foods, alcohol, stress, refined foods and caffeine all have an impact on how happy they are! Over-indulgence during the festive period will certainly have impacted on the natural balance in the gut, which can lead to tell-tale bloating and wind.

Natural live yoghurt provides good amounts of friendly bacteria. Whilst it’s great to include this regularly in the diet, your digestive tract will benefit hugely from taking a course of probiotics (readily available in health food stores) for at least a month, to get everything back on track. You may initially experience a little more bloating, which is normal, but it should settle quite quickly. The end results will be worth it!


Globe artichokes may look slightly strange and can be a little fiddly to prepare, but they are packed full of digestive benefits. Artichokes have been used as a liver tonic for centuries because they contain two antioxidants, namely cynarin and silymarin. These help to cleanse and repair over-worked livers, which naturally improves digestion.

Moreover, cynarin is one of the active ingredients in globe artichokes that helps soothe digestion. Artichokes are also high in fibre which helps improve bowel movements and this in itself provides relief from bloating.

To prepare them, cut the body of the artichoke in half and remove the stem whilst pulling out the fibres. Snap the leaves from the edges and cut the remaining leaves away. Then you can slice the tip of the artichoke away, scrape out the hairy middle and lightly steam or gently roast the leaves in a little olive oil.


Gluten is the protein found in wheat and other grains such as oats, rye and barley. It’s a sticky protein, hence breads are quite dense in texture. It’s precisely for this reason that many people have a problem digesting gluten. And if you think about it, you’ve probably consumed lots of gluten over the Christmas period! Canapes, stuffing, cakes, pastries, Christmas pudding, bread, sausage rolls … the list goes on!

Why not start the new year being gluten-free for a couple of weeks to help relieve any bloating? It may sound difficult but there are so many alternatives available now in the supermarkets. Plus, you’ll naturally reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your protein, which is always going to be beneficial for weight management.

Just be wary of gluten-free biscuits or cakes; they’re generally very high in sugar which is certainly not going to help any new year detox!

So try these top tips to feel more energised and beat the bloat this year, and get ready for an even healthier 2018!


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition and health advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit Herbfacts