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Are you ready for the holiday feast?

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Tips that may help keep your digestive system happy

Office parties, family get-together and other holiday festivities are just around the corner, with the associated copious meals, enormous amounts of alcohol, stress and late nights.

Sailing serenely through the holidays, fit as a fiddle, may seem impossible. It’s not—if you get your body ready, particularly your liver, BEFORE the festivities begin.

Choosing healthy, detoxifying foods right now can help you ward off a host of problems over the holidays, including digestive issues, severe fatigue, headaches and migraines, not to mention the likely but unwelcomed weight gain.

You would rather do a detox AFTER the holidays? It’s up to you. After overdoing it, your body and liver will need a break and a detox is a terrific way to start the New Year.

Here are some suggestions on a holiday detox, along with a few tips for preventing holiday excesses, digestive problems and nasty hangovers.

Happy holidays!

Why do a detox now?

Do a detox now to lighten the load on your liver and help it function optimally. This critical organ plays over 500 vital roles—here are some that may be negatively affected by the holiday season:

The liver:

  • Purifies the blood by metabolizing alcohol and neutralizing and destroying toxins
  • Produces, stores and supplies energy to the body
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Produces, stores and exports fats
  • Manufactures a host of essential proteins, particularly those to fight infections
  • Regulates hormones, particularly cortisone
  • Regulates cholesterol levels in the body.

Some things harmful to the liver :

  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • eating too many carbs and unhealthy fats
  • irregular sleep schedule
  • stress
  • cold.
  • Signs of a congested liver: fatigue; weight gain; headaches; digestive problems; pain in the right side; dull, blotchy, yellowish complexion; dark circles around the eyes; pimples; feeling faint or dizzy; intolerance to cold; arthritis or rheumatism.

    Health problems that can result from long-term liver dysfunction: weak immune system, gallstones, obesity, type 2 diabetes, liver failure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD, also known as fatty liver) and liver cirrhosis.

    A holiday detox!

    Light meals are essential. Artichokes, which have antioxidant and cleansing properties, and lemons, which assist in the elimination of bile, should play starring roles. At the evening meal, eating a single dish such as vegetable soup is recommended.

    10 basic principles

    • Do not drink any alcohol.
    • Drink lots of water (spring or filtered) flavoured with lemon. Teas and infusions are allowed. Consuming at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day is recommended.
    • Eat mainly vegetables, very fresh and organic if possible. The emphasis should be on leafy green vegetables such as kale and collard greens, as well as Brussels sprouts, apples, onions, squash, broccoli and garlic.
    • Choose foods containing healthy fats: almonds; coconut; walnuts; seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin and sunflower); olives and avocados. Avoid vegetable oils such as corn and soybean oil.
    • Do not eat grains, dairy products or processed foods.
    • Eat smaller portions of protein. Choose white-fleshed fish, poultry, lean meat and plain non-fat yoghurt.
    • Drink less black tea and coffee (no more than one or two cups a day).
    • Stick to your usual sleep schedule and try not to go to bed too late.
    • Spend time outdoors to take advantage of the sunlight.
    • Exercise and do not smoke.

    Tips to prevent excesses, digestive problems and hangovers

    Enjoy yourself, it’s the holiday season. But listen to your body!


    • Pay attention to what you are eating and savor each bite. This will help you eat more slowly.
    • Pay attention to your feelings of hunger or fullness. This will help you avoid overeating.
    • Skip a meal if you aren’t hungry, particularly if you overindulged the night before. This will give your digestive system a chance to rest.
    • Between holiday events, eat lighter meals and healthier foods. Use our Holiday Detox as a guide!


    • Drink a big glass of water between servings of alcohol. This way you will drink less and prevent dehydration, one of the causes of hangovers.
    • To prevent alcohol intoxication and its side effects, women should not consume more than three servings of alcohol in a single occasion, and men, not more than four servings.
    • One serving of alcohol is equivalent to 12 ounces (341 ml) of beer, 5 ounces (142 ml) of wine, 3 ounces (85 ml) of fortified wine, 1½ ounces (43 ml) of spirits (hard liquor) or two 5-ounce glasses (140 ml) of cider.
    • Binge drinking is defined as consuming than 4 or 5 drinks in 2 hours.

    Physical activity

    • Go for a walk before and after a heavy meal.
    • The sleep environment: too much light, ambient noise, or temperature too hot or too cold in the bedroom, as well as watching TV, listening to the radio, looking at your phone, working on your laptop, playing video games, etc.
    • At parties, if possible, talk to the other guests while standing or take advantage of the music and dance.
    • Between parties, big meals and family get-togethers, stay active every day and continue to go to the gym, go for long walks or runs, ski or skate.

    the essentials for holiday season

    with Adrien Gagnon

    Milk thistle is a plant known to have beneficial effects, particularly on gallstones and liver cirrhosis. Taken regularly, it helps in decongesting the liver. Milk thistle contains silymarin, which has protective effects on the liver recognized by Health Canada. More on Milk Thistle capsules.

    Artichoke extract helps to improve digestion by stimulating bile secretion by the liver, which aids in the elimination of toxins and improves fat metabolism. It is particularly beneficial to those who have trouble digesting or with sluggish digestive systems. More on Artichoke capsules.

    Digest 365 capsules help to prevent and reduce bloating, gas and abdominal cramps. Digest 365 is an enzyme supplement made from a microfungus. It provides enzymes that help in the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and dairy products. More on Digest 365 capsules.

    Black radish is the ideal plant to help with liver and gallbladder problems. The artichoke works in synergy with the black radish to stimulate and improve digestive functions and bile secretion. Black Radish with Artichoke capsules are also helpful to those with sluggish digestion or who have problems digesting fats. More on Black Radish with Artichoke capsules.

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