Happy Christmas to all! Be healthy, smiling, successful and amazing. Live healthy and happy!

The current holidays are one of the most uniting and warm, besides they are combined with rich tables and plenty of drinks and foods. The 40 days fast ends on Christmas Eve. Although meals are meatless the usual overeating with pickles, pastries, stuffed cabbage and grape leaves, beans etc. accompanied of course by eau de vie and red wine can lead to serious consequences upon the digestive system. Along with a short story about spices and foods which improve digestion processes in the gastrointestinal system, I’ll try to draw your attention not to allow or at least to be wary not to let your body to be overloaded with the excuse: “it’s holiday time”.

If you go too far with the meals on the Christmas table, reduce your food with 50% on the next day, add more walks and keep away the cakes and desserts. 35ml3 is the alcohol dose which doesn’t turn into poison inside the organism, or remember the old Chinese proverb: one glass of wine – the man drinks wine, two glasses of wine – the wine drinks wine, three glasses of wine – the wine drinks the man… If you go over these 35ml3 of alcohol, it gets toxic for your body.

During the fast our organism hasn’t produced the enzymes for destruction of animal proteins and fats, so the transition to mixed nutrition is a kind of stress for it. Those who fast should follow the modesty rule – small amounts with gradual adding of different groups of animal products.

In order to improve our digestion and to ease the difficult task of our gastrointestinal tract during Christmas holidays it is good to include more bitter spices and herbs in the meals. The regular use of bitter additives is a fantastic health strategy for optimization of digestion and detoxification. The recognition of the bitter taste sets off a series of reactions on neuroendocrine level that is labeled as “bitter reflex”. This process is mediated by gastrin – a stomach hormone which stimulates the release of hydrochloric acid. The reflex then goes down and helps with secretion of bile from liver and gallbladder and pancreatic enzymes from the pancreas.

Cumin is a leader among the spices for good digestion and relief of gastrointestinal discomfort. A lot of proteins, acetic acid, resinous substances and coumarin are found in the chemical composition of the seeds. Among its useful properties especially expressed are cholagogue, anti-flatulence and relaxing ones, or in other words said it stimulates bile secretion and relieves intestinal spasms.

Ginger, known for around 20 years in Bulgaria with the invasion of the fusion cuisine is acknowledged for good digestion among the spices. The special taste and delicate flavor are due to its richness of etheric oils. It is a perfect source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamins from the B group. Ginger decreases inflammation in the stomach as it makes a barrier against the produced hydrochloric acid and helps for the proper absorption of nutrients.

Cardamom, one of the ingredients of the Swedish Bitters, with its exotic, sweet and spicy taste, is known from ancient times with its stimulating action. It reduces the intestinal spasms and is a folk cure to stop hiccups.

Curcuma is known in ayurvedic medicine from centuries for its anti-inflammatory action. The active substance curcumin fights improper digestion and protects the stomach. Combining curcuma with black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin and is a known cure against flatulence, abdominal discomfort and food overloading.

Mint /or peppermint/ is used for digestive problems almost from the dawn of traditional medicine. Peppermint oil and menthol which is found in it stimulate the secretory activity of stomach and liver, and regulate motility in the esophageal zone.

There are some foods and drinks known as “friends” of the stomach and intestines except for the spices mentioned above. A wonderful and available food at our lands especially in the winter season is sauerkraut /sour cabbage/. It is a super food with high fiber content, low carbohydrate content and is rich in probiotics. Heating the sour cabbage kills useful bacteria, so avoid cooking it.

Talking about digestion and probiotics, I cannot omit to mention the much talked about recently kombucha – a live drink, ancient elixir, full of organic acids, yeast, probiotics and vitamins. Probiotics’ richness /much more than in yoghurt/ makes it a powerful digestive.

Cake for Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter, ice creams in the summer – not everything good in this world is celebrated by eating and drinking. Don’t forget there are other ways to feel “festive”. Dig into your fantasies, celebrate wisely and romp safely.