Christmas is fast approaching. A time of celebration, merriment and, for a lot of us, probably some over-indulgence.
Whilst, of course, we should fully embrace the Christmas holiday, too much of a good thing can take its toll and the festive revelry could leave you at risk of burnout and getting ill.
That’s why we’ve compiled a little list of seasonal plant-based ways you can help protect your health this Christmas.
1. Dose up on Vitamin C
Satsumas aren’t just good as an extra present to stuff in a stocking – they’re an excellent festive snack. We all know how important vitamin C is for strengthening our immune systems and, at a time of year when we may be spending more time socialising inside with others, it’s wise to dose up on foods high in vitamin C.
Satsumas, oranges, pomegranates and blackcurrants are excellent sources. More of a veg fan? Green and red peppers are also packed full of vitamin C – perfect for a festive hummus platter.
Great news for sprouts fans too – the controversial Brussels sprout is not only a great accompaniment for a Christmas dinner but a vitamin C champion too!
2. Don’t forget your D
As the days get darker and shorter at this time of year, our bodies aren’t able to make enough vitamin D from absorbing the sun’s rays. It’s therefore recommended that all adults in the UK consider taking a vitamin D supplement, from October to March, to keep our bodies and minds healthy.
Vegan vitamin D supplements in the form of tablets and sprays are widely available in health food shops and online.
3. Crack on with nuts
There’s no better time of year to whip out the nutcracker and tuck into nuts of all shapes and sizes. Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and they can also help protect our hearts. This is, in part, because nuts are a good source of unsaturated (healthy) fats.
Wondering what nuts to eat? Mix it up! Almonds are great for calcium, Brazil nuts for selenium, cashews for magnesium and Christmas-faves, walnuts provide healthy omega-3 fat.
4. B vitamins could combat your hangover
If you know you’re likely to have one too many seasonal tipples over the festive period, you might want to boost your B vitamin intake to reduce the severity of your hangover.
Some research suggests that having good levels of B vitamins can help you feel better after drinking too much alcohol.
An easy way to top up your B vitamins is by adding nutritional yeast to your food. A five-gram sprinkle of nutritional yeast supplies a real boost of B vitamins, and it’s even better if you choose the one with added B12. Just sprinkle some on your baked beans, or tofu, the morning after a heavy night and it just might help that throbbing head.
5. Zinc could help too
Similarly, research suggests that drinkers who have higher intakes of zinc, experience significantly less severe hangovers.
Adults need between seven and nine milligrams of zinc per day and most adults in the UK aren’t getting enough!
So if you want to feel smug that you’ve dodged a hangover, make sure you fill up on zinc-rich foods such as tofu, pumpkin seeds, lentils, quinoa and couscous.
Read more about zinc in this month’s blog.
6. Spice up your life
Christmas is the perfect time to add warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon and turmeric to your food and drinks.
All three of these spices are powerful anti-inflammatories – great for aching winter joints. They also all have incredible immune-boosting properties to help protect you from getting ill over the Christmas period.
Why not throw some finely chopped fresh ginger into a chai tea, or spicy soup, or use ground ginger or cinnamon to make some festive biscuits or gingerbread?
7. Stay hydrated
Last but not least, make sure you are drinking enough water. Not being hydrated enough can make us feel tired, sluggish and give us headaches. Make sure you’re getting at least 1.2 to 1.5 litres per day, especially when drinking alcohol. If you’re not a big fan of drinking plain water – herbal teas or fresh fruit cordial mixes can be a great way of making sure you’re getting enough.