December can be a month of excess and looking after your health from now will go a long way to helping you make it through the fun and festivities on great form and bursting with energy.
Here are 3 key ways you can boost your resilience and ensure you’re bolstered for the busy festive period ahead.
1. Enhance your immune health
The Christmas period is a time when you are more likely to eat foods that are less nutritious and your meal planning can be more haphazard. Along with less sleep and busy work/family schedules, your immune system will be under pressure to defend you against falling sick. Your immune system relies on an array of vitamins and minerals and ideally these should come from the diet. If you are to boost its ability to protect you against illness, you will need to boost your nutrient intake.
Eating foods high in antioxidants will help to combat the free radicals produced as a result of stress and in turn will leave your body able to fight germs. Essentially eating a balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and healthy fats will bolster your nutrient levels but opting for those with deep, rich colours which will provide good antioxidants. For example, the red pigments found in tomatoes are due to the antioxidant Lycopene, dark blue/red berries such as blueberries and raspberries contain Anthocyanins, whilst foods high in the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E will also help to enhance your immune systems.
This antioxidant rich Kale and Courgette soup is the ideal immune boost.
2. Boost your gut bacteria
There is growing understanding of the influence of a healthy gut and our general health and ensuring adequate levels of good bacteria is key. Symptoms related to IBS, fatigue and headaches can all be attributed to an imbalance of gut bacteria and if not addressed, can lead to worse, often debilitating symptoms.
Gut bacteria is all about balance and the good bacteria will flourish if they are provided with the right “food”; fibre. Eating fibre rich foods such as vegetables, oats, beans and pulses will starve the bad bacteria, which would otherwise proliferate on a diet high in refined sugars, alcohol and refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta. Once you’re in the habit of making these choices, eating these foods will also help you to feel fuller for longer and will help your efforts to avoid weight gain.
At the outset, alongside these dietary changes, you may like to consider re-inoculating the gut with a good quality probiotic supplement, to boost the levels of good bacteria.
Relieving yourself of these debilitating symptoms will help you enjoy the festive season will full energy and vigour!
Unsurprisingly sleep has a significant role in encouraging weight gain. Research shows that a lack of sleep can play havoc with the appetite regulating hormones, Leptin and Ghrelin, making it harder to avoid weight gain despite your efforts otherwise.
Despite hearsay, it is a myth that you can make up for lost sleep during the week over the weekend. Ideally, getting into a regular sleep routine from now and ensuring at least 7-9 hours sleep from now will help to balance these hormones so that they are not sabotaging your efforts to avoid weight gain. Good sleep allows your body to rest and repair efficiently, boosting its resilience, in preparation for more erratic bedtimes as the party season kicks in.