Holiday parties and shopping can make this the most exciting time of the year. But entertaining, eating out, and stress can bring on unwanted health issues, from hangovers and heartburn to fatigue and sleeplessness. Sherry Torkos, pharmacist and author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine has put together some tips to help you avoid common health issues so you can look and feel your absolute best this holiday season.
1. Overindulgences: Between the parties and plethora of food, drinks and treats around it is no wonder that many succumb to hangovers and heartburn. Keep your digestion on track by eating smaller meals and avoid heavy late night snacking. Avoid holiday hangovers by alternating a glass of water with an alcoholic drink so that you stay properly hydrated. While many reach for pain relievers like acetaminophen that can actually cause more stress to your liver. Skip the greasy burger before bed and have a banana and a glass of coconut water instead to replenish vial electrolytes such as potassium as well as important nutrients. If you have the munchies snack on a handful of walnuts. They are rich in the amino acid arginine which can aid the liver in detoxifying ammonia (a by-product of alcohol). Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which support liver health. To further aid detoxification and keep your digestive system on track, try A. Vogel’s Boldocynara complex, which contains artichoke and milk thistle - herbs that help to support liver health and help to relieve heartburn, bloating and indigestion.
2. Fatigue: Holiday shopping, social events, and late nights can take a toll and leaving you feeling burned out before the holidays even arrive. Keep your energy levels high by eating small frequent meals with slow release carbs, nuts, seeds and other healthy protein snacks and consider taking a good nutritional tonic. Sherry recommends BioStrath, a Swiss blend of 61 vitamins, minerals and amino acids that has been shown in studies to improve stamina and concentration, increase resistance to stress and speed recovery from fatigue or burn out. Get back on your feet faster by adding this energy elixir to your daily routine. BioStrath is available in tablets or a liquid that can be added to your morning smoothie.
3. Stress: The holidays can be fun and exciting but also a stressful time between busy schedules, financial worries and tough family situations. Some people turn to alcohol, and prescription sedatives to cope with these stresses yet we know this isn't good. Survive holiday stress by carving out some time for yourself. Even if it is 10 minutes to meditate or just sit and read a book. Exercise is also a great stress reliever. Go out for a brisk walk to clear you mind, stretch or do some yoga. Some natural options to try for improving sleep quality include L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes calming relaxation and is not addictive.
4. Sleeplessness: Poor sleep goes hand in hand with stress and busy schedules. Sleep is always the first thing to be sacrificed during busy times. And it becomes more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep then under stress. The active ingredient in most OTC sleep aids are antihistamines, marketed for their side effect, which is drowsiness. However in addition to drowsiness these drugs can also cause next day grogginess, dry mouth, constipation and more. Safer options to consider include the herb passionflower, which helps to reduce nervousness and improve sleep quality. Melatonin can be helpful for those working shift work or traveling to different time zones.
5. Sore Throat: Too much talking, singing and shouting to be heard at parties can leave your throat feeling irritated and sore. Sore throat can also be the first sign of a viral infection, something that can really put a damper on the festivities. One home remedy that actually works is gargling with salt water. It helps to provide temporarily relief and may also help make your throat less hospitable to bacteria. Most medicated throat sprays contain benzocaine, an anesthetic, which temporarily numbs the pain but may make leave your throat more dry. Instead, look for a throat spray that contains echinacea, peppermint and sage. This particular combination of ingredients can help reduce pain and inflammation while also fighting off bacteria and viruses. For bedtime relief of a stubborn cough try a teaspoonful of honey. It is calming and can also help soothe an irritated throat.