When it comes to surviving the Christmas season, balancing festive hedonism with some health-conscious choices is key – and smart supplements are a quick and easy way to boost your wellness. We sat down with supplements guru Gabriela Peacock to discover the vitamins and minerals to seek out this December…
BEST FOR BLOOD SUGAR: Cinnamon
Endless mince pies and copious amounts of prosecco… the party season wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for sweet treats. But if you feel your sugar levels are out of whack, do some damage control with cinnamon; one of the most powerful allies against unbalanced sugar levels. This ancient spice actually enhances the action of insulin – the hormone that metabolises sugar. Try sprinkling it on porridge or adding to smoothies.
BEST FOR CRAVINGS: Chromium
Erratic mealtimes and sugary, fatty foods can lead to sugar crashes and subsequent cravings. Arm yourself with a good-quality chromium supplement, which works with insulin to support the cellular uptake of glucose. Taking chromium on a regular basis has been proven to actively reduce glucose levels and reduce hunger levels, making it a party girl’s best-kept secret.
BEST FOR STRESS: Magnesium & Adaptogens
Holiday season stress getting you down? Consider supplementing with magnesium, often referred to as the anti-stress mineral of the health world. It works to calm nerves and relax muscles, which can help with sleep. Try taking between 250-500mg before bed for best results, or incorporate plenty of dark leafy greens, soybeans, nuts and seafood in your diet for a natural magnesium boost.
It could also be worth considering adaptogens – a unique group of herbs used to improve the health of the adrenal system, which is responsible for managing the body’s hormonal response to stress. Try rhodiola and ginseng, which have been shown to positively affect mood and stress levels by balancing cortisol levels.
BEST FOR INDIGESTION: Prebiotics & Probiotics
Both probiotics and prebiotics are your friend this party season. They’ll help to optimise the digestive system, help with heartburn and indigestion, reduce gas and bloating for a flatter tummy, boost overall immune system function and may even enhance the ability to cope with stress and anxiety. Prebiotics, which support the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract, can be taken as a supplement or found in fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, while fermented foods are a fantastic source of probiotics to balance gut flora. If buying a probiotic supplement, keep an eye out for bifidobacteria and lactobacillus acidophilus.
BEST FOR MOOD: Tryptophan
If late nights and family feuds are taking their toll on your mood, be sure to include plenty of tryptophan in your diet. An amino acid that makes serotonin, tryptophan can improve mood and reduce stress. Once serotonin levels are increased, people under stress experience improved cognitive function, meaning they can concentrate and work better. Tryptophan can be found in turkey, cottage cheese and milk.
BEST FOR HANGOVERS: Milk Thistle
One too many drinks last night? It happens. While the liver and kidneys are the body’s built-in detoxification systems, it’s possible to give them a helping hand. Milk thistle is a herbal supplement that contains silymarin and silybin, two antioxidants that help protect the liver from toxins and the effects of alcohol. It could also be worth taking glutathione daily throughout the festive period – it’s a master antioxidant which can help you bounce back and give your liver a boost.
BEST FOR BLOATING: Carminative Family
The carminative family – better known as the likes of ginger, chamomile, fennel, oregano and mint – can help to relax the muscles in the intestine, allowing any gas to pass through rather than build up to avoid bloating. It may sound simple, but ensure you take time with your meals, sit at a table, chew thoroughly and try not to eat when stressed – the gut acts as a second brain so anxiety can manifest in the tummy.
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