Indigestion, bloating, gas, hangovers
over-indulgence can cause so many problems -but the good news is they can be avoided by simply taking natural protective nutrients.
Eating heavy meals, high in saturated fat, washed down with alcohol, puts a real strain on the body. Supplementing with phytonutrients is your best bet for limiting the unwelcome effects of such excesses. They act synergistically on the digestion of macronutrients, detoxification of the liver and on producing adequate bile secretions.
When our bodies digest food, macronutrients are gradually broken down into micronutrients. Proteins separate into amino acids due to proteases, lipids are broken down into fatty acids by lipases, and carbohydrates are split into oses' by specific enzymes - amylase, glucoamylase, alpha-galactosidase, lactase or invertase.
Over-eating puts additional stress on the pancreas' exocrine function - its ability to produce digestive enzymes - which becomes less efficient as we age.
Supplementing with plant enzymes at the start of a meal will help restore these enzymes to normal levels and enable complete digestion of every food group, so avoiding that heavy feeling we get after over-indulging.
Taking an activated charcoal or green clay supplement will in particular help reduce intestinal bloating by absorbing bacteria and other undesirable substances.
Drinking alcohol over the holiday period will also take its toll on the body. The main culprit is acetaldehyde, a by-product created when the liver metabolises alcohol, which is actually 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself
. As well as promoting free radicals, acetaldehyde also induces glycation of proteins and reduces production of glutathione.
Various natural ingredients have been shown to be effective protectors against acetaldehyde's toxicity: N-acetyl-cysteine which, combined with vitamin C, thiamine HCI and alpha-lipoic acid, has a beneficial effect on detoxification and at the same time increases glutathione levels
The liver and gallbladder are thus key organs we need to take care of over the festive period. It's therefore a good idea - as with any change in the seasons - to instigate a programme of cleansing and phytotherapy protection for a period of three consecutive weeks out of four.
Milk thistle standardized in silymarin, extract of Raphanus sativus (black radish) or artichoke, standardised in caffeoylquinic acid act synergistically and are nowadays widely recognised for their choleretic, liver-protective and liver-regenerative properties.
 Umulis D.M. et al., A physiologically based model for ethanol and acetyldehyde metabolism in human beings, Alcohol, 2005 Jan, 35(1): 243-7.
 Marzullo L., An update of N-acetylcysteine treatment for acute acetaminophen toxicity in children, Curr. Opin. Pediatr., 2005 Apr, 17(2): 239-45.
Your special festive foursome':