Whether you've had a big weekend or over-indulged on holiday, eating and drinking too much of the wrong things can leave you feeling bloated and lethargic. Here are five ways to soothe your digestive system and get back on track.
See also: Five signs you're dehydrated
1. Drink lemon water
Drinking water is a good way to help your body detox, plus it will help to stop you feeling hungry when you cut back on food for a few days. Start each morning with a pint of water and a few slices of lemon.
The Vitamin C will help to thin and decongest bile, enabling the liver to more effectively break down fats, while the water will rehydrate you – particularly important if you've had too much alcohol.
2. Be kind to your liver
It's not just booze that gives your liver a bashing. Over-indulging in rich, fatty meals and processed foods means your liver has to work extra hard.
You can support liver function by eating broccoli and cauliflower. As well as boosting low potassium levels, eating cruciferous vegetables will increase production of digestive enzymes called glucosinolates, a protein which help to detoxify the liver.
Garlic is another good food to eat. Packed with allicin and selenium, it helps to cleanse the liver and supports the body in getting rid of toxins. If you can't face either of those, start your day with a grapefruit, which is high in vitamin C and glutathione. Just don't cover it with sugar!
You can also take milk thistle capsules. A traditional herbal medicine, it helps to relieve indigestion and an upset stomach caused by over-eating, while helping to protect the liver from the effects of alcohol.
3. Avoid trigger foods
If you've over-filled your tummy, it's possible to feel uncomfortable for a few days.
As well as suffering from gastrointestinal disturbances, such as constipation and/or diarrhoea, you may notice your tummy is more sensitive than usual. Avoid potential trigger foods (such as caffeine, spicy food, sugar and fatty foods) even if these aren't normally a problem for you.
When you're feeling tired and hungover, it's natural to want to comfort foods – but your tummy won't thank you for that bowl of ice-cream or cream cake. If you're craving comfort, opt for a bowl of porridge with a banana. Eat clean for a few days, and it will give your digestive system a chance to recover.
4. Boost your gut bacteria
Increasing the amount of good bacteria in your gut has been shown to improve digestive health, and can help get your insides back on track. Opt for prebiotic foods that support the health of the gut, such as onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichoke and chicory.
Cultured foods that contain beneficial bacteria include natural yoghurt, kefir, raw sauerkraut kimchi and kombucha. Limit how much you eat though, as the elevation of bacterial load can cause bloating and gas. Small amounts three days a week is best, e.g. 3 tbsp sauerkraut.
5. Try L-glutamine supplements
If you're really suffering, you may find taking L-glutamine helps. It helps soothes inflammation in your tummy and supports the repair of the intestinal lining in your body. You can buy L-glutamine in supplement form on Amazon or ask in your local health food store.