The lead up to Christmas is invariably frenetic, organising presents, food, guests, outings and the rest – on top of the usual day jobs. Then you stop for the holiday and, to add insult to injury, you get ill. As Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of The Nutritional Health Handbook for Women (Piatkus, £25), explains, ‘Your body can keep going on adrenalin while under stress, but as soon as you stop, everything comes crashing down including your immune system. Hence the onset of colds or flu, with aching joints, plus tummy upsets and indigestion, especially with rich food and drink.’
Here are Dr Glenville’s top ten tips for staying well this festive season:
- KICKSTART YOUR DIGESTION every morning with a squeeze of lemon juice in a glass of warm water. It boosts your immunity, too. Sip water or herbal teas throughout the day.
- EAT EVERY THREE HOURS to balance your blood sugar. Not eating for long periods stimulates the release of stress hormones.
- INCLUDE PROTEIN every time you eat as this slows the release of sugar into your blood.
- SNACK on unsalted nuts and seeds. Replace white rice, pasta and bread with brown and wholemeal for fibre content and B vitamins.
- ALWAYS EAT SLOWLY to avoid indigestion. Sip fennel, peppermint, ginger or camomile tea after a meal to settle your stomach.
- DON’T DRINK more than one cup of caffeinated coffee a day, and never on an empty stomach: it stimulates the release of cortisol, a stress hormone.
- TAKE A SUPPLEMENT with calming nutrients. The vitamin B group helps reduce stress levels and give you energy, while magnesium is good for mind and body relaxation, chromium aids blood sugar balance and Siberian ginseng helps the adrenal glands. Try Tranquil Woman Support, £22.97.
- GO OUTSIDE in the light daily. Many of us have low levels of immunity-boosting vitamin D in the winter. Eat oily fish and eggs or consider a supplement, such as Better You DLux 1000 Spray, £7.15.
- EAT IMMUNE-BOOSTING NUTRIENTS. Add garlic to stews and salad dressings. Consume zinc in oysters, scallops, prawns and cashew nuts; vitamin C in kiwi fruit, and omega-3 essential fatty acids in oily fish and linseed for vegetarians. Also consider supplements: Kyolic Garlic Extract, £13.99; Lamberts Zinc Citrate, £5.20; NHP Omega 3 Support, £27.77, and Altrient C, £29.95.
- REMEMBER SLEEP is a necessity. When you are not going out, turn off electronics by 8pm and tuck yourself up early.
For more information, go to marilynglenville.com.
The germ-friendly confines of planes are notorious for spreading infection. Last winter it took months to shake off a virus I picked up on a European flight. This year I am taking Altitude Oil by acupuncturist Année de Mamiel, which contains antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic oils. £26.
BE C.O. AWARE
If you are staying in a rented house this Christmas, take a portable carbon monoxide (C.O.) alarm. ‘C.O. is a silent killer and leaves many more with chronic ill health,’ says Dr Rob Hicks, who supports C.O. Angels to raise awareness (co-angels.co.uk). Fire Angel Carbon Monoxide Alarm, £24.99.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
EAT YOURSELF YOUNG by Elizabeth Peyton-Jones (Quadrille, £12.99*)
From spiced roast vegetable soup to almond, coconut and vanilla ice cream, this collection of 100 simple, tasty and good-for-you recipes aims to help us feel – and look – our very best. There is plenty for vegans, as well as those on gluten- or dairy-free regimes. For Christmas recipes, visit Elizabeth’s website at epjhealth.com.