WITH only a few weeks 11 days left until Christmas Day, most of us are probably rushing around making preparations, partying and generally burning the candle at both ends.
It’s a time when we need to be fit and healthy, not only to cope with the demands we’re putting on our bodies but also to resist a barrage of winter germs.
Festive-proof your health by following the experts’ guide to boosting immunity and energy.
“It’s easy over the festive season to feel you’re on a constant nutritional conveyor belt of alcohol, sugar and rich foods. The combination can leave you feeling off-colour,” says nutritionist Lorna Driver-Davies.
“Everyday someone brings chocolates or mince pies into the office, you’re probably eating out more often, while ’just one more drink’ is a common refrain in the run-up to Christmas and during the holiday period.”
Driver-Davies advises taking, a nutritional product for liver support, such as Hepaguard Forte by BioCare. An immune-supporting complex may also be beneficial, she says, and recommends Elderberry Complex by Bionutri.
STOP SEASONAL SAG
“If you find yourself yawning a lot, or even nodding off as soon as you sit down on a chair or sofa, you may be suffering from fatigue or what’s dubbed, ‘TATT – Tired All The Time,’ says women’s health expert Marilyn Glenville (www.marilynglenville.com).
“With many of us leading increasingly busy lives, and on top of that the extra pressure of Christmas preparations, it’s hardly surprising that more and more people are suffering from a lack of energy.”
She advises that if you feel persistently tired and lack the energy to get comfortably through a day, it is worth checking your diet to ensure it contains sufficient essential nutrients and taking a vitamin B12 supplement.
FIGHT FESTIVE FLU
“At this time of year, most of us are concerned about our immunity and protecting ourselves from colds and flu,” says nutritionist Cassandra Barns. She advises eating foods rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which are contained in dark-coloured berries such as blueberries or blackberries, dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach, red fruits such as cherries and strawberries, and vegetables including red peppers, carrots and sweet potato. Zinc, which she highlights as another essential nutrient, is contained in pumpkin seeds, nuts, oysters, fish and other seafood, lean meats and whole grains. If you seem to ’catch everything that’s going;, it can be worth getting your vitamin D levels tested and taking a separate supplement if necessary, she says.
EAT AND BE MERRY
Indigestion or an upset stomach occurs when your body struggles to break down food and digest it properly.
“Discomfort or a burning feeling in the stomach, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, bloating, flatulence, cramps, constipation and diarrhoea, is commonly known as indigestion,” says Marilyn Glenville.
“It’s much more common over the Christmas period when people indulge in a richer diet and drink more alcohol.”
To minimise the symptoms, she says, drink plenty of fluid.
“Chew food slowly and thoroughly to give your body time to digest it properly.
“Avoid medication containing aspirin and ibuprofen, but if you must take them, ensure you take them on a full stomach. Drinking peppermint or camomile tea after a meal may help settle your stomach,” she adds. Stress is one of the triggers for digestive upsets, she says, and may be alleviated by yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
“Taking steps to avoid a hangover is far easier than treating one,” says nutritionist Shona Wilkinson.
“Before you go out, make sure you eat a meal containing plenty of protein, so fish, or meat, as well as nuts, seeds, eggs, or tofu,” she says.
Protein takes a long time to digest so it helps to line the stomach. As a preventative measure, take a milk thistle tincture before you party as this can boost the liver’s ability to deal with toxins.”
Top tips: drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink, don’t mix drinks, and before bed, drink a couple of glasses of water and eat a snack, such as which will help balance blood sugar levels. She suggests Marmite, hummus or peanut butter on wholegrain toast.
The next morning, she advises, drink a smoothie made of banana, kiwi, flaxseed, cinnamon and spirulina to boost vitamins and blood sugar levels. During the day, she says, keep up liquid intake by drinking two litres of still water to help flush out alcohol and toxins.
BEAT THE BUGS
We’re already in the grip of a winter vomiting outbreak which has seen thousands of people in Britain fall victim to the debilitating virus, and cases of the bug have surged to a five-year high. “It is dehydration rather than the virus itself that can be particularly dangerous, as this can cause loss of both water and essential minerals,” says GP Dr Roger Henderson. “This can prevent the body from functioning normally and cause potentially serious or even fatal complications.
“An oral rehydration sachet is recommended to help the body replace the sugar, salt and minerals lost to dehydration.”
Dehydration is more of a risk in the very young and the elderly. It’s important to get medical attention straight away if you think your child has become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration can include dizziness, headache, tiredness and dark concentrated urine.
In general, virus symptoms should not last longer than a few days and medical attention should be sought if they persist. :: Henderson recommends Dioralyte, £3.86 for six rehydration sachets, to promote absorption of fluids and mineral salts, and Dioralyte Relief, £4.28 for six sachets, which has added rice powder to help correct diarrhoea.
Parents should seek medical advice before giving the product to children aged two and under. Both products are available from pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide.
For more information about the Dioralyte range and about dehydration following diarrhoea, visit www.dioralyte.co.uk :: Keep germs at bay by frequent hand-washing and using an antibacterial gel. Milton Antibacterial Hand Gel, £2.19 for 100ml, available from pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide. For more information, visit www.milton-tm.com
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