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Thursday 31 July 2014

Party season survival guide

Love it or loathe it, there's no escaping the merry-making marathon that is December. And like any marathon, it's best to pace yourself if you want to come out on top and look and feel your best this party season. With all the late nights, overindulgence and germs floating around, it's easy to get burned out in the run-up to Christmas, which is why I've put together a survival guide to solve all of your seasonal health woes.

HANGOVER PREVENTION

Hydrate -- Always drink a glass of water before you start drinking and ideally one in-between each alcoholic beverage. This will help dilute the alcohol in your bloodstream.

Line the stomach -- Eating high-fat foods before imbibing can reduce your risk of a hangover because fats line your stomach for longer and slow down the absorption of alcohol. Healthy fat options include olive oil, salmon or avocados.

Milk thistle -- The active compound found in this herbal remedy supports liver function which will help your body break down the alcohol. Take it before you head out and right before bed.

HANGOVER CURE

Replace lost electrolytes -- Adding lemon, salt and honey to water helps replace the sodium and glycogen lost the night before, whereas the likes of tea and coffee will just further dehydrate you. See recipe below for the perfect 'morning after' drink.

Home-made rehydration drink

Ingredients

>1/2 a lemon

>A good pinch of sea salt

>1 teaspoon of honey

Method

> Boil your kettle and allow it to cool a little.

> Get a large glass. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and add the salt and honey. Add a splash of hot water from the kettle and mix until the salt and honey are dissolved.

> Top up with cold water and drink straight away.

Ditch the fry -- Cooked fats are difficult to digest and hard on the liver. Instead, opt for a breakfast that contains foods that will help repair the damage.

Breakfast Cures

Porridge with chopped banana is a good hangover food as both contain crucial B vitamins which help reduce the stress your body is under. The banana will also help restore lost potassium.

Eggs on wholegrain toast is another good option. Egg yolks contain large amounts of cysteine, which breaks down acetaldehyde, one of the culprits behind a hangover.

A fruit smoothie made from some natural yogurt, banana and berries is a great hangover cure because dairy is another good source of cysteine and works well paired with high vitamin C fruit.

DIGESTIVE DISCOMFORT

'Tis the season to be jolly but 'tis also the season of overindulgence, leaving many of us feeling uncomfortable and reaching for the Alka Seltzer.

Below are some natural remedies that will get your tummy back on track in no time.

Nausea -- Ginger has been used to treat stomach upset and nausea for more than 2,000 years. A cup of fresh ginger tea should calm your stomach instantly. Just add a couple of slices to boiled water and steep for 10 minutes.

Bloating -- Fennel is extremely effective for treating stomach bloating and helping to relieve wind. Fennel works really well roasted in the oven with olive oil or you can drink fennel tea instead, which you can buy from health stores.

Heartburn -- Slippery elm is a natural herb that provides a barrier against the damaging properties of acid reflux and can help heartburn sufferers greatly. You can buy it in health stores and take it in drops or tablet form.

COLD and FLU

Cold and flu are rampant at this time of year and no one wants to spend the party season in bed nursing a cold. So, to boost your defences in the run-up to Christmas, follow my immune-boosting tips below.

Avoid refined sugar -- Over consuming sugar slows down and dampens our immune system, so think twice before delving into that selection box this Christmas.

Eat the Rainbow -- Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are often the magic ingredients for all-round health. Each vivid colour represents different antioxidants which protect against illness, so make sure your five a day contains a variety of colours.

Immune Boosters -- There are certain 'medicinal foods' which contain specific ingredients that actively fight infection and boost our immunity. Regularly consuming these foods at this time of year will help you stay well during the Christmas season. They include garlic, ginger, chillis, shitake mushrooms and manuka honey.

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