Here’s our top five tips for making Christmas healthy:
1. Boost your immune system
Nutrition is a key contributor to a healthy immune system, needed to keep your body in balance and help combat infection, according to the British Journal of Nutrition. “Include plenty of citrus fruits for vitamin C and immune-boosting plant chemicals. Put broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other members of the cruciferous family on the menu too”, says nutritionist Patsy Westcott.
If you find yourself in need of a extra boost, vitamins A, B12, B6, C and D, and minerals copper, folate, iron, selenium and zinc play a key role in a strong immune system, says Dr Sarah Brewer. And if symptoms of a cold, bronchitis or sinusitis do develop, pelargonium extracts – a traditional herbal remedy - can help alleviate symptoms.
2. Look after your liver
Whilst the occasional Christmas tipple isn’t an issue, even the benefits of red wine diminish after a couple of glasses. The liver can only metabolise a certain amount of alcohol per hour, so when consumed too fast your liver can’t deal with it. When this happens, it stops carbohydrate and fat metabolism to deal with the alcohol, which can lead to indigestion, bloating and hangovers.
"Low energy levels and queasy stomachs are all part of the festive package”, says Rob Hobson. “Adding supplements such as milk thistle, which has been tailored to help maintain energy levels and support digestion and liver function, to your diet at this time of year is absolutely worth doing."
3. …and your gut health
Good gut health is important to our health and wellbeing, especially during the excesses and demands of the festive season. Probiotics, also known as friendly bacteria, help to keep the levels of good and bad bacteria in our stomach balanced and also supports a healthy immune system.
“Taking probiotics regularly has many potential plus points,” explains Lisa Smith, a nutritionist within the Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinics. “They primarily help to support a healthy balance in your own natural gut bacteria which:
- Helps you to digest foods
- Synthesizes vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B2 and vitamin K
- Protects you from food poisoning, diarrhoea and stomach bugs
“If you don’t already take probiotics, add them to your routine over the Christmas period to help reduce acidity and aid in the digestion of those big dinners and festive treats,” says Lisa. “However, don’t take them with hot drinks as the high temperatures may kill off these friendly microbes.”
4. Stay hydrated
With both heating systems and the colder weather making the air drier, it’s important to avoid the effects of dehydration, which includes everything from dry skin to headaches. If drinking 1-2 litres of cold water a day doesn’t appeal during the winter months, try drinking hot water mixed with fresh lemon juice or a calorie-free herbal tea, which will also aid digestion, instead.
And don’t forget to look after your skin! Central heating, chilly winds and cold temperatures during the winter can easily result in dry skin. Body butters are typically thicker than normal moisturisers and can lock-in hydration for longer, so are a great option for all-over body hydration, while for your face, don’t underestimate the value of a moisturising mask and an SPF enriched moisturiser.
5. Don't stress
Christmas stress is almost inevitable, but making good food choices can really help you to function well, says Rob Hobson. “It’s really easy to forget to eat when you're running around all over the place, but the combination of stress, hunger and low blood sugar levels is a recipe for disaster, so try to eat regularly to maintain levels”, explains Rob.
“Choose balanced meals made up of both complex carbs and proteins for a steady release of energy and avoid grabbing sweet snacks to 'keep your going' between meals as these will only encourage sugar-highs.”