On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...mineral water, fresh fruit and plenty of vitamin supplements.
It’s not the traditional song as we know it, but there’s no doubt about it – this version of the Twelve Days of Christmas is much better for you. Not only will it save you a lot of space (where would you even begin to store a partridge, some turtle doves and some French hens?) but it will also help to ensure that you’re in the best of health when the festivities really start to kick off. Hooray!
At least, that’s the thinking behind Maria Jevtic’s 12 Days of Christmas Detox Guide. Maria, who is a health and body professional and has just written a book called ‘'DIY Health Guide'’, is passionate about helping people to take their wellbeing into their own hands.
She says, ‘Your body works like a bank account. Just as with money, you can pay in and you can take out. The way to stay in credit is to pay in more than you take out. So to get ready for all the partying which goes on over Christmas and New Year, it is important to get your mind and body in credit now, as we all know the holidays can be a very taxing time of year!’
Want to get fit as a fiddle in time for all that festive fun? Follow Maria’s 12 steps for the perfect seasonal detox.
Save the sugary and starchy treats for the holiday period. Too much sugar and too many sweet bakery goods will end up on your waistline and can leave you feeling lethargic and bloated. Enjoy a few treats at parties and perhaps on a Sunday with the family, but otherwise look forward to having your share during the holiday period. What you save now, won’t have to come off later! Sugar also reduces the efficiency of the immune system, which is not something you want to happen during the cold and flu season.
Stop drinking alcohol on a daily basis. Save up your alcohol allowance for the festive period - this way you will feel better and enjoy the parties more when they come. Even then, it is a good idea to follow every alcoholic drink with an equally large non-alcoholic drink. An overworked liver will make you feel ill-tempered and sluggish, not what you want during the holidays. In addition, alcohol robs your body of valuable nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and the B- vitamin group. These are hard to replace and might tip your health bank account off balance, which will increase the risk of winter infections.
It is important to keep up your exercise routine even in the colder and rainier weather. This will do wonders for your mood, self-image and general well-being. Every time you exercise, you reduce your stress levels. Stress levels reduce because stress hormones can only efficiently be broken down during exercise. If you do not exercise, these hormones keep circulating in your body, inducing feelings of anxiety long after it has been initially triggered. When you exercise you also pay in bonus points towards a faster metabolism, lower blood sugar and improved cholesterol scores. Just in time for the holiday period when all three of these areas are likely to become rather overtaxed! If you exercise regularly now, taking a few days break over the holidays will not do you any harm – so get moving!
Sleep more now! The darker months naturally make us more inclined to turn in early. This is because, to some extent, our bodies rely on daylight intensity to feel awake. Use this feature wisely and build up your sleep credit now, whenever you can, instead of keeping yourself up artificially just because you feel silly going to bed early. Every hour of sleep before midnight brings immense anti-ageing benefits to every single cell in your body. This is because the most intense maintenance is carried out during sleep. People who sleep more have fewer infections, have more energy and generally feel in a better mood.
Vitamin D is needed to fight infections and inflammation anywhere in your body, but especially in the airways. Since it is normally produced when natural sunlight hits your skin, there is naturally less available in the winter months and most people become deficient by December. Vitamin D is not naturally plentiful in foods, so it is worthwhile consulting a qualified nutritionist to find the correct amount for you and your family to take.
Our bodies are around 80% water. Water is a prerequisite of staying healthy, and we need to consume enough to stay hydrated. Coffee, tea and alcohol as well as fizzy drinks (stimulants) are all dehydrating and should be exchanged for good quality bottled water. Or even better, invest in a good quality water filter. Tap water is, unfortunately, full of toxins such as chlorine and pseudo-estrogens and these add to the daily burden of detoxification our bodies have to handle. So, in order to make a splash this Christmas, take a dive into lots of water sooner rather than later.
It might be colder outside, but it is still vital to get out in the fresh air. The air that we breathe indoors is not as fresh as we need it to be. Dust collects on every surface, and as we try to get rid of it, the dust swirls around us and makes its way into our respiratory system via the nose and mouth. Other fumes, for example from burnt food, also get inhaled which can also affect our breathing. Fresh air cleans our lungs. It allows us to get rid of the impurities that we inhale on a weekly basis. The fresh air also allows us to breathe deeper which brings more oxygen to our cells. The increased oxygen brings increased energy levels and also brings greater clarity to the brain, which needs twenty percent of our body’s oxygen to function. Our health bank account will start to feel refreshed, and we will look forward to the holidays with renewed vigour.
We are all told to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, but this is even more important at this time of year. So if you feel like something sweet, choose some lovely satsumas or fresh grapes in season, and leave the treats for Christmas. Fresh fruit and vegetables are full of bug-fighting vitamins and antioxidants which will help you stay in good health. This is a great way to ensure your body stays in credit, and will mean a more relaxed diet over the holidays will not do too much damage.
Try to reduce the amount of stimulants you take. Stimulants, such as tea and coffee, rob us of minerals and vitamins and also cover up how tired we actually feel. This can result in overwork, overplay and quite possibly induce burn out. If you listen to your body now, you will begin your Christmas holiday well-rested and sparkling.
Avoid racing around as much as you can, and try to spend more time at home. I recommend you spend some time at home every weekend, as this will allow you to unwind and your brain to switch off. Your health bank account will become refreshed and reenergized and you will feel fit, healthy and raring to go. Kids also love being at home with their toys and with their parents. So engage with the other members of your family at home and do not feel like you have to go out to spend ‘quality time’ with your loved ones.
Switch off your TV and computer and make a change to your daily routine. Gadgets are a part of our life nowadays, but in order to truly get a break, we need to know when to switch off to give our eyes and nervous system some relief. In addition, watching TV and staring at computer screens causes a release of cortisol (a stress hormone) that in turn prevents us from sleeping properly and – oh no! – encourages fat-gain. So get off Facebook and find a real book - your body and mind will thank you for it.
Build up your immunity and detoxification systems now to be in credit for those taxing holidays. We can all set-out with the best of intentions, but even the strongest willed people need a little help every now and then. Therefore, to ensure that your body gets everything it needs I recommend you take some good quality and well-selected supplements. These help your body to make-up any deficiencies that may have built up over the past months or years. They will also add some extra to your bank to help combat those delicious nutrient robbers in the shape of sweets and alcohol that we all consume at Christmas. The B Vitamins, Magnesium and Zinc as well as some omega 3 fatty acids are most important, plus the already recommended Vitamin D. If you have stocked up before, you will be laughing all the way through.
Want more of Maria’s expert advice? The DIY Health Guide is available now from Amazon. For lots of other ideas to help you stay healthy and happy, why not browse our fitness deals or take a look at our food blog.
Angharad is a writer with a special soft spot for blogging. She loves to try new things and believes that whilst beauty and well-being are extremely important, it's also vital to stay true to yourself. Follow her here on her quest to discover the health and beauty solutions that are right for her.See my profile