PhotoNo matter how much we resolve not to over-do it at Thanksgiving, most of us take a second helping of everything. We eat more than usual and we consume food we don't eat all that often.

The result can be a bad case of indigestion. Because so much is being consumed so quickly, symptoms can be quite unpleasant. Gloria Grice, associate professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, advises taking a closer look at what products are in the medicine cabinet before the parties or special meals start.

Some of the most heavily advertised heartburn medicines, she says, will not provide much relief. That's why you need to read the labels carefully.

Old-fashioned relief

“Products with sodium bicarbonate or calcium carbonate work well for occasional heartburn,” Grice said. “They neutralize stomach acid, which is usually the cause of the burning sensation. And they can be taken as soon as symptoms begin, or up to an hour after a meal that you think may cause heartburn.”

Grice also recommends heartburn products that contain magnesium hydroxide.

“It acts quickly and neutralizes acid,” she said. “However, patients with kidney disease should avoid this product. Also, it can have a laxative effect for any patient who takes multiple doses in a day.”

To avoid these negative side effects, Grice says aluminum hydroxide could be a possibility, but it can cause constipation if not taken with something that also contains magnesium hydroxide.

Controlling behavior

You can probably avoid these symptoms by simply slowing down, consuming small portions and showing restraint when seconds are offered. But Grice has some other advice that might help you avoid day-after gastric distress.

For example, avoid caffeine. It stimulates appetite, which could cause you to overeat, and it also overstimulates the normal processes of the digestive system causing poor absorption of nutrients.

Chew your food slowly. Grice says that's actually the best advice for preventing bloating. There are also products to take before the meal, or up to 30 minutes after, which will cut down on intestinal gas.

Go easy on cocktails. Drinking too much alcohol can inflame the lining of the stomach and intestines. Alcohol can also kill beneficial intestinal bacteria leading to indigestion and even diarrhea.

Take a small piece of pie. When sugar, fruit or fruit juice, and starch mix in the stomach, they ferment and cause bloating. You should also avoid fruit muffins and low-fat cookies sweetened with fruit juice.

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