Natural health: 'I'm dreading the rich food over Christmas'; 'I'm breastfeeding and have developed mastitis

Natural health: 'I'm dreading the rich food over Christmas'; 'I'm breastfeeding and have developed mastitis

I am dreading the rich food over Christmas which is hard to avoid when you’re staying with relatives who love to cook. I suffer from heartburn and usually take great care of my diet. Is there something I could take to minimise the damage?

This is a difficult predicament we often find ourselves in during the festive season, made even more challenging by the fact that so much thought, time, and love has gone into the preparation of the food on offer.

Turmeric, pictured, is useful in strengthening the digestive system (including the gut flora) and it also has what is known as a bitter principle. This means that it stimulates bile flow, in turn encouraging the production of digestive juices, making it useful in treating intestinal inflammation.

Heartburn tends to be an issue when the oesophageal hiatus is weaker than usual, meaning acids from the stomach reflux into the oesophagus and cause a burning sensation and chest pain that you experience during a bout of heartburn. This hiatus normally pinches closed, ensuring that the stomach contents stay put in order to be broken down in the acidic environment.

Natural health: 'I'm dreading the rich food over Christmas'; 'I'm breastfeeding and have developed mastitis

Spicy and fatty foods are both triggers for those who suffer from heartburn, so try and avoid these. Caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate are also commonly responsible for heartburn symptoms. Peppermint is often thought to soothe indigestion, but can, in fact, be a problematic food — this is not always the case, especially with peppermint tea, more with sweets and strong peppermint flavouring.

Try to eat in moderation, choosing to try a little of everything instead of eating fewer large meals. Avoid consuming any food or drink for two to three hours before you go to bed to reduce the likelihood of a symptom flare-up.

You may need to ask your kind host for a smaller plate due to digestive issues. With digestive troubles, intolerances and allergies being so widespread these days, most people are very accommodating and understanding of these needs.

It is also worth preparing your system by supplementing with a digestive aid formulation containing digestive enzymes. You may already do this as part of your dietary protocol in managing your heartburn. Digestive enzymes together with Betaine HCl should be taken at least a few days before any Christmas events, and continued until a few days after the feasting and celebrating is over.

Solgar’s Digestive Enzymes, available from health stores, cost €15.65 for 100 tablets and contain digestive enzymes to help break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates along with Betaine HCl to improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. Do not take these if you also suffer from stomach ulcers.

I’m breastfeeding my first-born child but have developed painful mastitis. What would you recommend?

Natural health: 'I'm dreading the rich food over Christmas'; 'I'm breastfeeding and have developed mastitis

Mastitis is an incredibly difficult issue to work through, not least because you need to keep feeding from the painful breast. Once you have managed to get on top of this infection, you will need to ensure that you deal with any future indications of mastitis immediately since it can spread so rapidly.

The best natural remedy is both simple and a little odd. Have your partner or a friend buy a green cabbage and boil the leaves. Apply a leaf to the affected breast while warm to draw out fluid and reduce inflammation. If you do find that feeding from this side is simply too painful it is important to express milk to help the healing process.

It would appear that some mothers are more prone than others to developing mastitis. It is worth checking with a lactation consultant to address any issues with latching and positioning and ensure that your baby is getting optimal milk flow. Tongue-tie can be another factor, specifically affecting latch and flow.

Supplements such as vitamin C and lecithin are often given to help treat and prevent recurrent mastitis. Homeopathically, Phytolacca is a popular choice — often taken alternately with Hepar Sulphur.

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