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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > December 2018 > Your stay-well plan for a HEALTHY CHRISTMAS

Your stay-well plan for a HEALTHY CHRISTMAS

That long-awaited break is tantalisingly near, but how do you dodge the numerous winter bugs, coughs and colds that are standing between you and the celebrations? Jo Waters asks the experts

WINTER BRINGS A WHOLE HOST OF BUGS to dodge at a time when our immune systems are feeling the strain. Vitamin D levels can plummet (the sun’s UV rays are too weak in this country during winter), causing tiredness, and we’re usually drinking more – a study from the University of Maryland in the US revealed that just one night of heavy drinking can weaken immunity for 24 hours. If you’ve taken a course of antibiotics, your gut microbiome, which underpins our immunity, will be under attack, too. Add in poorer food choices (mulled wine, sausage roll and afterparty takeaway, anyone?) – not to mention those pesky commuters and colleagues spreading their germs – and you can see why so many of us end up taking to our beds instead of having fun.

Here’s what the experts recommend to help insure against that dreaded Christmas washout…

Eat and drink to good health

Choose fruit over supplements

‘MULTIVITAMINS are fine as an insurance back-up if you’re worried about your diet, and they won’t do any harm, but they can’t replicate everything in fruit and veg,’ says Sian Porter, consultant dietitian and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association. ‘For example, if you eat an apple, you’ll get vitamins as well as pectin, plant chemicals and fibre. To get a wide range of vitamins and minerals, concentrate on eating as many different colours of vegetables and fruits as possible, and stock up your freezer with frozen berries, butternut squash, sweetcorn and peppers to make soups and casseroles. Exceptionally, vitamin D supplements (and folate, if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive) may be necessary (see Take a dose of vitamin D, p15).’

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About Healthy Food Guide

Who’s coming for Christmas? We’ve got veggie and vegan inspiration, plus heathier versions of canapés, edible gifts and festive suppers that taste delicious. Find out how to stay bug-free over the holiday and beyond with our immunity-boosting guide, and win the ultimate kitchen helper worth £249.99!