I don’t know about you but life seems to speed up a notch (or two) once the festive season begins. End of year work parties, catch ups, warm weather and dinners out, things just start to get just a little crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I really love it and spend most of winter looking forward to pulling out my summer dresses and sandals, enjoying the warmer weather and a bit more socializing. It can also feel like a bit of a survival test. Just how many times can you go out in one week and keep your health and energy levels up? It’s always good to know that quieter times are not too far off, when you get to kick back a little and really enjoy summer. Still, the goal is to get there feeling pretty good, ready to embrace a new year with spark. Here are a few of my tips to help you get there not just in one piece, but in great health too.
Being extra busy is fun but it can be tiring and stressful. At times like these our need for certain nutrients can greatly increase. If you don’t generally take supplements, this may just be the time to consider it, to give the boost you need to get you over the line in good shape. Consider a good quality B Complex or Magnesium (more on that later) or herbs like Withania, Siberian Ginseng, Rhemania and St John’s Wort. These help increase your resistance to stress, leaving you feeling calmer and more able to cope with a full schedule. The B group vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 — play an important role in keeping our bodies running like well-oiled machines. These essential nutrients help convert our food into fuel, allowing us to stay energized throughout the day and are involved in the manufacture of neurotransmitters like serotonin. They are critical nutrients for all things mind-related: mood and memory can benefit from the B's. In the right amounts, the B's can quell anxiety, lift depression, ease PMS, and boost your energy. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. Add them to your salads, smoothies and spread on your wholegrain bread.
Magnesium – Adrenal Superfood
Magnesium is probably the most prescribed nutrient I use in clinical practice and truly is your nervous systems friend. It helps regulate cortisol levels and promotes feeling of wellbeing. One of the great things the majority of my patients find is that it gives them a very quick boost to their energy levels. I generally recommend supplementing with a powdered form, it is better absorbed and faster acting. Apart from nourishing the adrenals, magnesium is also a key cofactor in the ATP cycle – how we manufacture energy – and is also an essential mineral that is used by the body in over 300 different biochemical processes. Because magnesium is so widely used, it is easy for it to become depleted. Common signs of magnesium deficiency include muscular cramps and spasms, headaches, eye twitches and even a decreased resilience to stress. Magnesium deficiency is surprisingly more common than you may think.
Magnesium comes in a wide variety of foods, from nuts and seeds, to leafy greens and grains. Include these nutrient-rich foods in your diet to support your magnesium status:
Here's a few simple ways to increase the levels of magnesium in your diet.
Blood Sugar Balancers
One thing I hear myself saying it over and over again in clinic to my patients is to include protein with every meal. Increasing your protein intake helps you feel full for longer, boosts your metabolism and maintain your lean muscle mass. Protein also increase’s your brain’s levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone that tells you when your belly is full. Keep this in mind before you head out to your work party or Christmas function – pop some protein on your plate with a good serve of salad.
Happy Liver Foods
It’s pretty hard to avoid not having a few extra drinks at this time of year, it goes with the territory. While it’s important to remember to keep your alcohol intake moderate and stay well hydrated by keeping your water intake high, there are also numerous herbs and foods that will support the livers detoxification pathways and regeneration of cells. Herbs such as St Mary’s Thistle and Schisandra have regenerative qualities, while dandelion root, globe artichoke and golden seal get the bile moving to break down some of those extra fats you might be indulging in and ensure your detox pathways are fired up and working well. As always, my favourite way to look after your liver is through the use of ‘food as medicine’. Try including a few of these goodies in your diet to keep you and your liver happy throughout the festive season.
And if you are looking for a delicious dessert that is rich in magnesium but low in sugar to help you celebrate the Festive Season, look no further ....
Chocolate Chia Superfood Pudding
1 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
3 tbsp raw cacao
Pinch Himalayan salt
1 tbsp of maple syrup or brown rice syrup
Optional - organic dark chocolate shavings to serve
Place all ingredients in a large jar with a lid and stir well.
Put lid on jar and pop it in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours until the mixture is thick and creamy.
Serve with toppings like goji berries, chopped nuts, coconut and mixed berries for extra deliciousness.
Lindy Cook is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Director of Corporate Chillout.