During lockdown it is so tempting to hit the biscuit barrel rather than grab an apple, but it is so important to maintain our health, especially now. Here are 5 super handy tips on how you can use this time as the perfect festive pretox from Simon Bandy, a nutritional supplement specialist.
1 – Support your adrenal glands
Your adrenal glands help produce vital hormones such as cortisol, which regulate metabolism; aldosterone, which keeps blood pressure under control; and adrenaline, which affects how we react to stress.
To help the adrenal glands keep working effectively, try to add more magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins to your diet. You can get these in supplement form or foods such as almonds, avocados, fish, broccoli, tomatoes, citrus fruits and whole grains to name but a few.
Relaxation is also crucial. Try to do something every day where you can be in complete silence – meditating, gardening, painting, and walking are great ways to help you pretox as noise can affect your body’s stress hormones, sleep cycle, and cardiovascular system.
2 – Give your liver a rest
Lots of people would admit that they have turned to alcohol more this year. It’s the liver’s job to break down and neutralise toxins but it can easily become overloaded so why not give your liver a break and a cleanse during this second lockdown so it’s ready to party over the festivities?
The most common cleanse method (and a great habit to get into) is drinking a cup of warm water with lemon at the start of your day. Lemon has natural cleansing abilities that rejuvenate the liver and its acidity also wakes up the nerves in the digestive system which is always a bonus. Alternatively, try adding turmeric, beetroot, garlic and walnuts to your diet.
3 – Address your serotonin levels
For those of us who experience negative emotions it maybe be that it’s not just the pandemic that’s causing wobbles, but in fact low levels of serotonin – also known as the ‘happy’ chemical.
We need to consume lots of tryptophan—an amino acid that converts into serotonin—and vitamin B6, but our 21 century high sugar diets can cause this process to become unbalanced. Try adding tryptophan rich foods such as shrimp, scallops, tofu, spinach, and kidney beans into your diet, or consuming more foods which are low in GI, such as berries, lentils and beans to stabilise your blood sugar levels.
Another easy solution is to go for a walk, as aerobic exercise, combined with sunlight, is essential to boosting serotonin.
4 – Digest these digestion tips
Stress and tension can really affect your digestion as they shift your blood and circulation away from the intestines, leaving your digestive tract without enough blood to complete its job. Over time this can lead to all sorts of side-effects such as reflux, heartburn, joint inflammation, bloating, or a change in your bowel movements.
Simple remedies include upping your vegetable and fibre intake, cutting down on starchy food at night, chewing at least 20 times with each bite (which produces more digestive juices in your mouth), and hydrating between meals. Time is something that most of us have in abundance right now. Make the most of it by cooking healthy, wholesome meals. Dairy alternatives such as soya, almond, goat or sheep’s milk products may also help if you suffer with digestion problems
5 – Get the glow
The winter months can cause havoc with hair and skin as central heating dries out pores, we consume more high calorie items, and (for those who wear it) makeup can get heavier and is perhaps less likely to be removed at the end of an evening!
As many of us are now spending a month inside, try not styling your hair with heat products; going make-up free to let your skin breathe (it’s a perfect time to wash make-up brushes too); eating your five-a-day, and upping your iron intake to ensure you’re getting antioxidants to help repair damaged skin cells.
Sleep is crucial too—‘places to go, people to see’ can’t be an excuse now, so make sure you use this time to get more sleep if possible. Getting between 7-9 hours can boost your skin’s ability to recover from sun damage and reduce puffy eyes and wrinkles. Furthermore, sleep can aid weight loss, improve your mental health, and help keep your hair and nails strong.
Simon said: “The Christmas period, however that may look this year, always puts a strain on our bodies both physically and mentally with the stress, late nights, and copious amounts of food and drink. While many people commented on how they put on so much weight during the first lockdown, we want to encourage people to use this November period to put their bodies first – it really is a perfect time for a pretox.”