The festive period, as lovely as it is, my fellow commuters will understand the fear of squeezing onto a packed train only to be surrounded by others battling their coughs and colds to make it into the office. Combine that with the over indulgence we all partake in and the subsequent increase in sugar consumption which feeds coughs, colds and other inflammation, and maintaining health can become challenging! So what can we do to protect ourselves and keep healthy this festive period?
We read a lot about vitamin D and how we should all be taking a supplement. Vitamin D is essential for winter health as not only do we have restricted access to it due to shorter daylight hours and cold weather preventing us going outside, but it’s an essential supporting nutrient for our immune system. At least a 20 minute walk in the sunshine is enough to boost vitamin D or a good supplement providing at least 2000iu.
A good multi- vitamin and a probiotic are also my winter staples for staying healthy. They top up the body’s natural defenses and are an essential companion to a good diet and healthy lifestyle.
As much as I adore mulled wine, my daily winter tonic is a hot drink of fresh lemon, ginger, turmeric, manuka honey, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s sharp and refreshing and the spices give your immune system a boost to keep you going even on the most winter of days.
I’ve already discussed the benefit of counting colours and not calories and eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables provides an adequate range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants all of which contribute to optimal health and wellbeing. This time of year offers the perfect opportunity to legitimately indulge in warming comfort foods and sugary treats but these aren’t the most healthful. By ensuring regular consumption of a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, this will continue to support your body when rainbows seem a long way off.
We all know sugar is bad and apologies but I’m not about to tell you otherwise. Sugar drives inflammation within the body so if you’re suffering with a cold, flu or a cough, sugar will only worsen it. Limit all sources especially if you are feeling under the weather.
At this time of year, we all seem to have a disproportionate amount of lunches and dinners than during the rest of the year. To save over indulging and protect our health and well-being, I rely on these simple tips:
- Order extra vegetables in place of starchy carbohydrates.
- Eat a filling breakfast so you’re less likely to make unhealthy choices come lunchtime.
- Focus on healthful snacks such as fruit, crudites, nuts and seeds.
- If drinking with lunch, avoid drinking with dinner and on days where there are no social commitments.
- Try to resist the bread basket and ask for olives instead. Bread is unnecessary at the start of the meal and doesn’t stimulate digestion as well being overly filling before the main event has even begun!