4 Supplements to Easy Your Way Through Holiday Festivities

Dear Dr.Kim,

I love the holiday season but with several food avoidances, it can be hard to navigate seasonal parties and festivities. Do you have any suggestions to help limit me feeling poorly after having some of the foods I typically don’t eat?

N.B. Victoria

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Dear N.B.

The holiday season can be a wonderful time of special social engagements, family gatherings and year-end celebration. When you have food sensitivities it can be tricky to figure your way through the maze of appetizers, turkey dinners, desserts and workplace treats.

People can avoid foods for a number of reasons: they may be lactose intolerant, have celiac disease, be anaphylactic to some foods, or they have sensitivities to certain foods that cause symptoms such as low energy, migraine, skin aggravation or digestive upset. For the purposes of your question, I will be clear that we are not talking about anaphylaxis or celiac disease, as those require total avoidance lifelong.

When people react negatively to a food, usually the symptoms come up right away but can also appear up to two days later. It takes food 24-hours to transit the system and so reactions can be delayed. It typically takes about 4-5 days to clear a reaction. As you probably know, reactions can sometimes vary based on the amount of exposure and also reactions can be different from one food to the next. For example, any dairy might cause someone a migraine headache while for another person they can tolerate a little dairy but too much constipates them. The intensity of ones reaction will often inform how strictly they avoid a particularly food or in the case of expected exposure, help a person decide which exposure has a lesser consequence then another.

There are several strategies you can deploy to help curb the exposure or reaction. Some are simpler such as don’t eat the workplace treats ;) or contributing a dish to a gathering -something that you can eat and fits within your food limits. Food sensitivities are becoming more commonplace and so chances are your offering will be well received by those who share your approach (and the host!). Also, eating before a gathering can be a way to satisfy your appetite and reduce the amount of food needed at an event. When it is a party where bringing something is not practical, you might find that some of the supplements below will help you weather the storm or divert the reaction all together.

  • L-glutamine –is an amino acid that can be added to water or a shake. L-glutamine is helpful in repairing the integrity of digestive tract and so can be taken after exposure to calm digestion.
  • Probiotic –The digestive tract is host to trillions of microbes. The “good ones” (probiotics) help you digest food and maintain homeostasis (as best possible)
  • Enzymes –You could take an enzyme supplement as needed on the occasion when you are eating foods that you typically avoid because they upset your digestion. This can be helpful if you have a more mild sensitivity and are unsure if there are things you react to hidden in the food
  • Liver support –One of the many jobs of the liver is to produce bile salts, which move into the gallbladder where they concentrate. When you eat, the gallbladder contracts and squirts bile into the beginning of the small intestine. If you are someone that has trouble tolerating rich food (creamy, fried, … think gravy) and/or suffer heartburn, burping you may do well on liver herbs that encourage bile flow. Some such herbs are dandelion, globe artichoke, and burdock. You should take these over the season so they have a chance to get working.

I hope these tips help you to a holly jolly holidays.

“Health from the inside out.”

Dr. Kim McQueen, ND



Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935 and www.kimmcqueen.com. Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble. See www.drinkrumble.com