Post Thanksgiving/Christmas/Celebration Digestion – some suggestions to ease that overstuffed feeling

My American friend Bernadette over at Haddon Musings has just requested a digestive aid to help overcome the overstuffed feeling after the Thanksgiving meal. I half- jokingly gave some suggestions, but on reflection perhaps they may help some of you cope better with the over-indulgence at this time of year. For many of us in the UK it is Christmas or Divali or Hannuka.

I realise of course I should have written this a few days ago! Sorry!

My first advice would be to pace yourself. Take your time, eat slowly and chew thoroughly, put your knife and fork down occasionally and talk to your neighbour.

Remind yourself that as lovely as all this sumptuous food is, your stomach will only take so much before it starts objecting, very loudly and clearly! You can always go back for more later.

It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to get the message from your stomach that it’s had enough, so eating slowly gives time for this message to get through before you start feeling uncomfortable.

You could serve melon with ginger sprinkled on (especially cantaloupe) before the main meal (melon must always be eaten on an empty stomach) and a green salad with the meal, these will help with digestion and also help fill you so you don’t over-eat the fancier stuff.

Here is a website I found which has juice recipes specifically designed to aid digestion: The Fit Indian

Also, fennel and ginger are great digestive aids in any form.

imagePapaya too is especially good for the digestion.

The best thing that you could do – apart from not over-eating in the first place! – is to go for a stroll in the fresh air afterwards. Most people flop on the sofa, holding their stomachs, groaning, vowing never to eat such-and-such again and then doze or veg out in front of the telly.

This is the worst thing you can do!

Walking aids digestion, gets things moving and regulates blood sugar levels so you won’t be dozy all afternoon.

Another tip, have some small windows open. If you are all packed into a stuffy room you will feel worse if you’re also overfull.

Drink water in between the wine/whisky/beer. 

I hope this helps and that you all have a lovely time with family and friends.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Refreshing & Hydrating Papaya, Watermelon & Cucumber Juice with a Kick!

imageI came up with this combination after my Raw Island One Day Juice Cleanse (see my Review).  It is recommended that you have watermelon and papaya as your first solid food afterwards,  to reintroduce fibre, I’ve never had papaya before and I wondered what it would be like juiced. I’d read that it could be difficult to juice and bitter but I found it was neither – just be sure to remove the seeds, they taste like peppercorns! Papaya juice tastes wonderful on its own but I decided to add the other ingredients to make a post cleanse hydrating juice.

Papaya is a delicious exotic fruit that is beneficial to good imagehealth, clear skin and aids digestion. It contains an enzyme called papain that aids regularity and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract. Papaya is also high in antioxidants and B vitamins making them a good anti-inflammatory food, and full of minerals and dietary fibre.

Papaya, watermelon, cucumber and celery are wonderfully hydrating, while ginger is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral and adds a nice kick to the juice. Carrot adds more antioxidants and lemon adds Vitamin C which aids absorption and helps slow down oxidation of the juice.


1 Papaya

1/4 Mini Watermelon

4″ Cucumber

Thick Slice of Wax-free Lemon

1″ or more of Ginger

1/2 Medium to Large Carrot

Small Celery Stalk

Scrub the skin of the Papaya, Cucumber, Lemon, Carrot and Celery. Discard the Papaya seeds as these can make the juice bitter and may block up your juicer. Peel the Watermelon and discard the seeds and peel.

Juice everything, add ice if liked – and if you’re not in the depths of winter!


Copyright: Chris McGowan

B12: What Is It & Do We Need to Supplement?

After ‘Where do you get your protein/calcium/iron from?’ most vegans will sooner or later have to face the B12 question.

It is an important topic, but not just for vegans: B12 deficiency can occur in meat-eaters (farm animals are often deficient and require supplementation),  as well as pregnant women and breast-fed infants whose mothers are vegan, whilst the over-50’s can be deficient due to poorer absorption.

So what is B12, why do we need it, where do we find it, how much do we need and in what form?

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is one of the compounds required by the body to convert food into energy. It is required for a healthy nervous system, good bone health and in the development and protection of nerve cells and red blood cells.

B12 deficiency can have severe effects on adults, babies and children, long-term vegans, raw food and macrobiotic vegans, the breast-fed infants of vegan mothers and can lead to serious complications in pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia and neural tube defects.

Symptoms of deficiency can be fatigue, anaemia, poor concentration, gastrointestinal disorders, tingling in hands and feet, and irritability. Severe deficiency can lead to nerve damage, Alzheimer’s disease, pernicious anaemia, spinal cord degeneration and heart disease. There is a also a higher risk of bone fractures.

B12 is produced by micro-organisms and is present in the soil in which we grow our food – or at least, it used to be. A combination of demineralisation through modern farming methods and our concerns about hygiene and bacteria – resulting in the cleansing of soil from vegetables – means we can’t just rely on normal food sources: we are advised to include fortified foods or take supplements.  Well, some experts do and some aren’t too sure! More on this later.

Non-vegans routinely obtain B12 from animal sources: cooked liver, fish/seafood, poultry, eggs, milk amd cheese. However, as I said earlier, these sources are becoming less reliable and older people whether omnivores or vegans are less able to absorb the amounts necessary for healthy bodily functions.

Recommended daily amounts tend to vary from country to country, so you may need to do a little research to find out if you are getting enough.

The Vegan Society in the UK recommends eating fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, plant milks, yeast extract or nutritional yeast with every meal to obtain 3 mcg (micrograms) per day OR a daily supplement of at least 10 mcg OR a weekly supplement of at least 2000 mcg. Good quality organic Aloe Vera juice is also a good source of B12.

It is best to take little and often but the less often you have it the more your body needs, so a higher dose weekly supplement should also provide enough protection.

Traditionally, vegans have relied on sea vegetables and algae such as spirulina, nori and so on, as well as barleygrass, but there is now some doubt as to their efficacy:  recent studies have concluded that these sources are unreliable and possibly dangerous due to contamination. They are believed to contain B12 analogues which can interfere with B12 absorption and metabolism.

Most experts seem to advise supplementation.

But even this is not without controversy! Here comes the science bit: Many supplements are in synthetic form which is not as bioavailable and the general consensus seems to be that Methylcobalamin is the most bioavailable source and ideally a supplement should be a combination of Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin.

imageSublingual sprays are often preferred to tablets. Global Health Centre recommends VeganSafe B12.

I found it very hard to find an organic B12 supplement and they are very expensive. However, they do last a long time. I had to buy mine from Mykind Organics in the US. I have been taking a weekly spray of 5000 mcg for about 6 months now and my B12 levels are fine. It is raspberry flavoured and very easy to use.

I hope this has helped clarify this issue, it is difficult to be sure of getting the right information when even those trained in this area aren’t even in full agreement!  Watch the short video of a debate on the subject by a panel of experts in nutrition at the end of this article.

Sources: The Vegan Society

Forks Over Knives

Global Healing Centre

Dr Steven Lin

Copyright: Chris McGowan