By Dr Natasha Nixon, 7th December 2016.
Another year has flown by and Christmas is upon us again! While the holiday season can be a fun and joyous time, it can also be very stressful and taxing on our bodies. So, to help you tackle the festive season, we have come up with some simple Christmas survival health tips.
Be active and get outside! Set yourself an exercise challenge and plan to move for at least 30 minutes each day throughout the holidays. In addition to burning calories, building up a sweat releases endorphins, which can help to boost your mood.
According to ‘Nutrition Australia’ we put on an average of 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas - New Year period. 1 to 2kg might not sound like much but researchers have identified that weight gained over the holiday period is rarely lost (1).
Remember the golden rule: everything in moderation. Be sure to fill up on foods that are high in protein and healthy fats (fish, chicken, avocado, eggs, nuts and vegetables) and limit foods high in sugar and saturated fats.
Poor diet and drinking alcohol can result in increased production of free radicals which can lead to cellular damage. Vitamin C and E are thought to protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals by neutralising them. Antioxidant enriched foods include blueberries, acai berries, green tea, dark chocolate, and red and orange fruits and vegetables.
Particularly important for all those vegetarians and vegans out there! Some of the richest sources of B-group vitamins include legumes, avocado, nuts, seeds and red meat. You might also benefit from taking a daily B-complex supplement if necessary.
Consuming probiotic-rich foods, such as yoghurt; kefir; kombucha and taking a probiotic supplement daily, will help boost good intestinal bacteria, which can be disrupted due to poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption. 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced by the good bacteria in your gut. This neurotransmitter helps to regulate your appetite, sleep and mood!
Limit Alcohol Intake
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommend consuming no more than 1-2 standard drinks on any day. Having alcohol free days is important. If you must drink, here are some helpful tips to help minimise the toxic effect that alcohol places on your body:
- Stay hydrated! We lose fluid and electrolytes when our body processes alcohol, leading to dehydration, which can have vast negative effects on your health and well being. Many common hangover symptoms including; headaches, dry mouth and thirst, can be attributed to by dehydration. Be sure to alternate your drinks by drinking one glass of water for every glass of alcohol.
- Drink slowly - stick to no more than one alcoholic drink an hour.
- Always eat a nutritious meal before consuming alcohol. This will slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream.
- Consider Milk Thistle - thought to help protect liver cells from alcohol-induced damage and enhances liver detoxification.
- Load up on B group vitamins, antioxidants and ginger to help relieve nausea.
Anxiety, depression and stress are very common during the holidays season. Stress can have a dramatic effect on your health and well-being. Take time to meditate and practice mindfulness for 20 minutes twice a day to help stay grounded and tackle the day ahead in a positive state of mind.
Get Enough Sleep
Plan to have some early nights during the silly season. Getting a good night’s rest is fundamentally important. It allows the body to balance and regulate vital systems; including respiration, circulation, growth and immune response.
For more info on how to achieve a more restful sleep, see our 10 Tips to Better Sleep article.
Watch the Heavy Lifting!
Lifting heavy Christmas presents can place extra pressure through the intervertebral discs in your lower back, making you more susceptible to injury. Be sure to lift smoothly, maintain good balance, bend at the knees and avoid unnecessary twisting or bending.
Better Balance Chiropractic will be closed from 24th December 2016 and will return to normal hours from the 5th January 2017, so be sure to book in now before the silly season really kicks in!
Wishing you a very happy and healthy festive season, from all of us at Better Balance Chiropractic!
Nutrition Australia [Internet]. [cited 2017, Nov] Available from http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/tips-beat-christmas-bulge
Foodsense. Consumer Reports on Health: Dodge holiday weight gain without missing the merriment. Dec 2002
Hull H et al. The effect of the holiday season on body weight and composition in college students. Nutr Metab. 2006;3(44)