Healthy Festive Survival Guide

Joanna Scott-Lutyens BA (Hons) DipION

As a very small token from us to you, our nutritional therapist Jo Saunders has put together a Festive Survival Guide to help get you get through Christmas with health and vitality.

Here our are 5 top festive tips :

1. Eat Smart
2. Boost immunity
3. Cure the hangover
4. Laugh & dance
5. Support digestion

1.Eat Smart

There are some smart yet simple tips about the way in which what we eat can have a big impact on how we feel at this time of year.

Bowl of mixed nuts

Heading to a party? Snacking on a protein rich snack before you head out, such as a small handful of mixed nuts, is a simple and easy way to avoid succumbing to the temptation of over-eating pastry laden canapés. It is also always a good idea to eat before drinking alcohol to reduce the effects of alcohol on your body, and the…groan…hangover.

It is little wonder we all like to fall asleep after Christmas dinner. Turkey is a food rich in the amino acid tryptophan (an amino acid is a building block of protein), which acts as a precursor to the lovely sleep inducing neurotransmitter (brain chemical messenger) melatonin. So if you struggle to sleep, try using turkey’s sleep-inducing benefits to your advantage. A snack of a small turkey sandwich on wholemeal bread before bed can help induce a refreshing night’s sleep as well as undo some of the negative effects of alcohol. Your head might just be grateful for it in the morning.

2.Boost Immunity

Frosty the Snowman may not appreciate you stealing his nose, but carrots are rich in Vitamins A & C, both vital immune boosting nutrients. Eat them raw as a snack as crudités with dips such as houmous or guacamole (the combination of mashed avocado, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, a little chopped chilli, chopped onions and mashed garlic creates a synergistic super food as well as a yummy treat), or steamed with your Christmas Day feast.

Satsumas looks pretty in a bowl, and it wouldn’t quite be Christmas without them, but these bright orange gems also provide a great little boost for your immune system. They are ideal on-the-go snacks with their easy to peel skins. Pop one in your bag or pocket to fill a gap when hunger strikes, you will be pleased you did.

The faithful Brussels Sprout – they receive something of ribbing at this time of year, but here at Optibac Probiotics we love them. Rich in Vitamins C, K and lovely fibre to help keep your digestive in tip top shape, don’t just save them for the big day itself, make the most of these health little offerings and eat them several times over the festive period. If you are fed up of steaming or boiling them, how about pan frying them with some chestnuts and cumin for something a little different?

Festive brussels sprouts

If you feel your immune system has taken a bit of a battering, and could benefit from a boost, you may like to consider taking a probiotic supplement with added antioxidants, such as our For daily immunity. It contains beneficial bacteria to support health gut flora and help to ensure you bring in the New Year with vim and vigour and a spring in your step, rather than testing out your best Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer impression with a heavy cold.

Alcohol can act as an immuno-suppressant, so how about opting for some softer options? Read on for some more ideas…..

3.Cure the Hangover

Indulgence is the Christmas buzzword, and this applies to alcohol as well as food. Did you know that our intake of alcohol increases by massive 40% at Christmas?! From booze fuelled office parties, liqueur chocolates to the Christmas morning glass of Bucks Fizz, our livers are already groaning at the thought.

Alcohol acts as a diuretic which means you excrete more nutrients from your body in your urine. It also places a burden upon your liver, requiring increased detoxification as well as having an impact on your immune system. And is there any need to mention the potential embarrassment factor of drinking one too many?!

How about serving your guests this delicious Festive punch, and see if anyone notices?! They may all be busy getting the party started without realising they are drinking a much more virtuous alternative!

Two glasses of champagne

Festive Booze-Free Punch

  • 2L Fresh Orange Juice (rich in Vitamin C for immune support)
  • 2L Cranberry Juice (helps support urinary health)
  • 5 Cinnamon Sticks (aids blood sugar support)
  • 1 Vanilla Pod (adds natural sweetness)
  • Thumb of freshly grated Ginger (packs a festive & immune punch)

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat and simmer until the festive scent fills your kitchen. Serve in warmed glasses or mugs with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Starting the day with a big mug of hot water and lemon can be a useful way to get your digestive juices flowing, as well as keeping you hydrated for the inevitable boozy onslaught the day may bring. Your liver will already be working overtime so how about giving it a bit of a breather from caffeine and other stimulants and sticking to something refreshing that really does give you a zing first thing in the morning?

If you do end up rockin’ around the Christmas tree, there are couple of key hangover tips you can try to help de-fuzz your head and get you sparkling once again.

Perhaps try alternating each alcoholic drink with a glass of mineral water. This will help to dilute the toxins from the alcohol, save any potential embarrassment and leave you feeling as smug as Santa in the morning.

Eggs are a fantastic breakfast for the morning after the night before. They are rich in B vitamins for providing energy and the amino acid choline which is brilliant for supporting liver detoxification. Enjoy them poached or scrambled, or if there is someone to impress, how about whipping up a delicious Spanish omelette? Try adding some avocado for an extra delicious nutrient hit – avocado is rich in fatty acids and is known to promote liver health by boosting its cleansing power and reducing toxic overload.

Open carton of a dozen eggs

4.Laugh & Dance

Whether it is Aunty Edna’s jokes you have heard a hundred times, or an old Carry On comedy on the television, relax and try to have a laugh this Christmas. Laughing is tonic for the soul, and research shows it also helps to reduce stress and support immune function so indulge yourself in a good rib-tickling session.

Also try to get moving during the Christmas period – the lure of the television may be strong, but try to take a winter stroll or have a good old dance to some festive classics around the house. Exercise aids digestion and will help pep you up and prevent you from feeling sluggish. It also helps to get the lymph system moving which will give your immune system a bit of a boost, as well as aid digestion. Daylight hours are very limited at this time of year, but make the most of what we do have and get outdoors. We all need light to help keep our moods up and prevent symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It also might just help make space for the next delicious meal!

Man walking dog in the snow

5.Support Your Digestion

We hope you find these handy festive tips useful for helping you to stay bright and well throughout the festive period. You may still however experience bloating due to larger than average food intake, and eating less familiar foods…and perhaps one too many of those chocolate truffles. So if you are battling with the festive bloat, with a tummy that feels bigger than Father Christmas, opt for our One week flat to help keep you feeling comfortable.

Optibac Probiotics - 'One week flat'

The run up to festive period and often Christmas itself tends to be a busy whirlwind of deadlines, socialising and preparations, after what has most likely also been a long and full year. In the rush, it can be all too easy to forget what Christmas is all about so above all, enjoy a relaxing break over the festive period and relish spending time with family and friends – you deserve it.

We look forward to providing you with all the latest health research & news, bacteria, probiotics and otherwise, in 2014. Wishing you a very Happy Christmas from all of us at Optibac Probiotics, and thank you for your valued and continued support.

Image source


Festive Spirit




Winter walk