This is the season to get struck down by coughs and colds (*splutter sniff*). But don’t let the pesky bugs kill your Christmas party season mojo. These simple nutrition hacks will keep you feeling fab and looking your best while those around you are dropping like flies!
1. Give your gut a helping hand with probiotics.
Your gut is home to more than 100 trillion, yep one hundred TRILLion microbes. And if these bugs get out of whack then your immunity is the first thing to suffer. Probiotics are found naturally in foods like live yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh. But if that all sounds too far removed from your Pret sandwich, then it’s worth supplementing with a high quality probiotic - Biokult or Optibac are well trusted by nutritionists. Take daily, particularly when you’re feeling extra stressed or run down.
2. Start your day with a ginger and turmeric shot.
Ginger and turmeric are both supercharged with bug-fighting antioxidant substances and have been used in ancient medicine for thousands of years to treat infections, inflammation and boost immunity. To maximise absorption of the active ingredients in turmeric, it’s best to add a little black pepper! Try this juicy combo — add 1/2 an inch of ginger, a small nub of fresh turmeric, an orange and a couple of carrots to your juicer. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and you’re good to go! If you don’t have a juicer or prefer to grab something on the go, pick up a turmeric latte (AKA golden milk) or stock up on daily turmeric shots from your local health food store.
3. Don’t neglect the carbs!
Don’t neglect the carbs! It can be tempting at this time of year when thinking about getting Christmas party-ready to skip the carbs, but by doing so you’ll put yourself at risk of cutting out the immunity-boosting nutrients like selenium, zinc, iron and energy-boosting B vitamins. In fact, a study found that people who ate pasta (gasp!) three times a week actually lost weight at a steady rate. So instead of cutting out carbohydrate completely, switch to nutrient-rich, slow-release carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, wholewheat or buckwheat pasta, oats, rye and quinoa and aim for a palmful at every meal. The B-vitamins found in whole grains are also depleted by alcohol, so there’s even more reason to up your dose during the social season.
4. Stock up on omegas.
We often associate omega 3 fatty acids with healthy hair, glowing skin and brain health, and this is all true but as an added bonus they’re also essential for keeping your immune system at its peak. Over this time of year increase your intake to at least three portions of oily fish each week, or you could simply add a tablespoon of chia or flaxseed to your breakfast for a quick and easy daily booster. The bonus of chia and flaxseed is that they act like a gel in your stomach, so will not only help with keeping you feeling fuller for longer but this soluble fibre will also help to balance blood sugar levels.
For the perfect immune-boosting snack, have a handful of walnuts - you’ll benefit from the omega 3s plus a powerful hit of the bug fighting super-nutrient selenium.
5. Sleep is a non-negotiable
Sleep is a non-negotiable if you’re going to stay healthy over the winter months. If you’re struggling to get your 8 hours, your diet could be to blame.
The optimal diet for sleep includes enough of the foods that help us to produce the calming neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin not only helps with mood but helps us to unwind. The amino acid Tryptophan is the pre-cursor (the first step) to producing serotonin and is found in protein like chicken, turkey and salmon, bananas, oats, dairy products. However, without enough carbohydrate, this tryptophan will not be converted to serotonin in the brain. So the perfect pre-bed meal includes a combo of some carbohydrate like brown rice, wholemeal pasta or sweet potato, and some lean protein - think prawns, chicken, eggs or chickpeas. Magnesium is another super sleep nutrient - pumpkin seeds, bananas, avocado and dark chocolate (what better excuse?!) are all good sources. Try a calming magnesium snack of some dark chocolate chips and pumpkin seeds in the afternoon to get your daily dose.
An Added Booster
To give your immune system a much needed helping hand at this time of year, GP Nutrition have created Energise Me. Available in 3, 14 or 28-day packages, this potent blend of vitamins, minerals and superfood extracts is scientifically proven to raise your energy levels, reduce tiredness, whilst supporting brain function and immune defence.