Digestive Health

Digestive Health

In this article weíll look at how Christmas overindulgence can cause heartburn and indigestion, as well as some top home remedies to ease discomfort.

Heartburn and Indigestion at Christmas

This article has been medically approved by Senior Pharmacist Melanie King, MPharm MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2063161


When you ask people what their favourite part of Christmas is, you wonít have to wait long until someone says the food. Whether itís the chocolates and mince pies that are always on the go or sit-down meals with more courses than people eating, food takes a central role during the festive season. But when rich food is around, digestive upset isnít far away. In our article below, weíll look at the causes and symptoms of indigestion, as well as some top home remedies to ease discomfort.

Heartburn, Indigestion, and Acid Reflux

While these terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, Indigestion is a general term that covers a wide range of digestive issues, whereas heartburn is a symptom of indigestion.

Heartburn is the same as acid reflux. It happens when stomach acid escapes into your throat, causing a burning feeling in your chest.

Symptoms of Indigestion and Heartburn

After eating or drinking you may experience:

  • Heartburn
  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling sick
  • Burping or passing wind
  • Bringing up food or bitter tasting fluid in your mouth
  • Coughing or hiccups that keep coming back

Your symptoms may be worse when lying down or bending over.

Christmas Food and Drink That Causes Acid Reflux

Thereís no need to miss out on the Christmas food you love, as weíll look at some home remedies below, but these foods can trigger indigestion and heartburn.

  • Rich and fatty foods
  • Crisps, chocolate, sweets, biscuits, and cakes
  • Acidic fruit juices like orange, grapefruit, and cranberry
  • Tomatoes
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Spicy foods
  • Fizzy drinks

How to Prevent Indigestion

To help to reduce your indigestion symptoms, you could:

  • Eat your food slowly and chew it all properly
  • Leave at least 3 hours between eating and going to lie down
  • Eat multiple small portions rather than 1 large meal
  • Leave 10 to 20 minutes before going for seconds
  • Go for a walk after eating
  • Prop your head and shoulders up in bed

You may also want to be prepared for any discomfort by stocking up on antacid tablets or medicines.

Home Remedies for Heartburn and Indigestion

If you find yourself without any antacids on Christmas day, there are some home remedies you can try using common items you may find in your cupboards.

Peppermint Tea

To soothe indigestion, pick some fresh mint and put them into a mug of hot water to make mint tea. Alternatively, you can use teabags. However, you should avoid peppermint if you have heartburn, as it can cause further discomfort.

Ginger

Ginger can be used to help soothe heartburn and relieve nausea. Try a few slices of ginger root in a mug of hot water for a gentle ginger tea.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can soothe heartburn. Stir between 1 teaspoon and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink it before a meal.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is alkaline, meaning it can be used as an antacid for heartburn. Drink half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. If you donít feel better after 2 hours you can try this home remedy again, but donít drink too much as it can cause other problems if your body becomes too alkaline. You also shouldnít use this remedy if you are on a low-sodium diet.

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum makes your produce more saliva, which may help to combat heartburn. Saliva is alkaline, meaning any stomach acid in your throat will be neutralised. Try chewing sugar free chewing gum for 30 minutes to decrease heartburn.

Eat a banana

Bananas contain natural antacids, meaning they can help to reduce the symptoms of indigestion. If youíre suffering with acid reflux, try eating a banana. If you donít have a banana, an apple will do.

When to See Your GP

Thereís usually no need to see a GP about indigestion, but you should visit them if you:

  • Have heartburn or indigestion most day for 3 weeks or more
  • Are in severe pain
  • Are 55 or older
  • Have lost weight without meaning to
  • Have difficulty swallowing
  • Keep being sick
  • Have an iron deficiency
  • Feel like you have a lump in your stomach
  • Or have bloody vomit or poo