Prepare for Christmas with some natural health tips from Organico

We all love Christmas, but the extra stresses and strains that inevitably occur over the festive period can really take their toll – I remember when we were young, my mother used to go down with the flu like clockwork on Christmas Day, having exhausted herself during the weeks before. Perhaps, remembering this, I am very aware of taking care of myself at this time of year to try and avoid either getting too tired, too run down or too overwhelmed to enjoy the day. Here are a few of my tips for a relaxed, happy and healthy Christmas period. 

To protect yourself and your family from viruses, the first thing to do is to make sure you are eating well over the next few weeks – immune-friendly foods include carrots, beetroot, sweet potatoes, berries (can buy these frozen when they are not in season), garlic and shiitake mushrooms. Eat what you can raw, and lightly steam the rest. Avoid frying anything, as this introduces harmful free radicals that increase your toxic load. Herbs and spices also contain immune-supporting nutrients – for example, add turmeric to rice; grate ginger into stir fries or on to vegetables or make tea from it. 

Next, make sure you are stocked up on vitamin C – Vitamin C is used up fast when we are under stress and it is vital for a healthy immune system. When Patrick Holford visited in October he said he takes vitamin C every day, but ups his dose when he feels a cold coming on; up to a gram every couple of hours for 24 hours. Just make sure you are taking it with food if it is an acidic form, or look out for either the super strength oil-based Altrient C, or Biocare’s Buffered C in powder form, which you can add to your water bottle, and sip away all day. You can also use this same idea with kids – they won’t even taste it and it will really help prevent coughs and colds and even reduce the duration that you suffer for. 

Also, make sure you are taking a good all-round multi with at least 600 IU vitamin D3. We all need a bit extra of the sunshine vitamin this time of year, so if your multi is low then get yourself one of the 3000iu sprays; they are cheap and very effective. Viridian make excellent multi vitamins; we particularly like the capsule form, as it is easy to absorb.

You might need extra immune support if people around you are coughing and spluttering – in that case, try some Elderberry extract, it helps ward off viruses and is popular and safe for the whole family. I’m currently taking the Irish Elderberry Syrup from Wild Irish foragers, because I like the idea that it’s from Irish Elderberries, though the Pukka Syrup, and the A.Vogel Hot Drink with added Echinacea are both excellent. Or if you prefer a tablet, Patrick Holford’s ImmuneC with elderberry, zinc and Vitamin C is what we have open in the Shop for staff to take anytime they need it.

I also find I really need to pay attention to my digestion over Christmas. All the rich food and drink can play havoc with your digestive processes, plus I inevitably end up eating some of the foods I know don’t suit me…because hey, it’s Christmas! 

Supplementing with Digestive Enzymes can help your system process all the luxury foods – and our favourite is Udo’s Digestive Enzyme (take one capsule with every meal). Most kids never need to supplement with digestive enzymes, but as we age, we produce less enzymes and this can mean we find it harder to digest food – leading to all manner of discomfort and ill-health. Digestive enzymes help to break the food you eat down into what your body needs; and if you don’t have enough of them, it can lead to abdominal pain, gas, bloating and IBD symptoms. 

I also find the Prebiotic Bio-Intestin to be very effective. BioIntestin is a superb daily food supplement in capsules with active compounds from Shiitake, Lion’s mane, Oyster and King trumpet mushroom powder. These superfood capsules with mushrooms from certified organic production help to maintain your digestive system. It contains a natural source of enzymes, amino acids, sterols and fibres, which all work together to help you stay regular, pain free and happy after Christmas feasting! 

And if all else fails, (or is forgotten till it’s too late!) there is always Activated Charcoal (Lifeplan make a good one). Charcoal absorbs everything and makes all the gas and misery disappear. Take as needed with plenty of water. 

For nervous system support, apart from a cuppa with your best friend, we often suggest Balance for Nerves from Higher Nature – it has a lovely mixture of the amino acid L-Theanine along with B vitamins and Magnesium and can be taken regularly to soothe mild anxiety. 

Much research shows that lower levels of magnesium available to the body during stressful times reduce our ability to deal with and react positively to stress. The lower the levels of magnesium the more over reactive our stress response can be and we can feel overwhelmed and anxious, which is never a good thing and particularly not at Christmas! L-Theanine is calming, and B Vitamins keep the whole nervous system healthy and balanced.

Many people find CBD oil is handy for stressful situations – and there’s a new one out by Better You, which is in spray form so it gets absorbed immediately into the mucous membranes in the mouth. It’s something you can carry around, as it works right away. 

Getting enough sleep is paramount for me if I want to stay healthy and well over the next few weeks – I find I need to be in bed by 10 to try and get that golden hour in before midnight, and if I manage that, I wake up feeling refreshed. Sometimes I need to take some Valerian to wind down – valerian is the herbal precursor of valium, but is not addictive and is also taken during the day for stress and anxiety. Taken at night it will carry you off to sleep. 

An evening bath can also really help to wind you down if the day has been hectic, and you can add a lot of naturally relaxing things to the bath – we love Weleda’s Arnica Bath Soak, which makes a wonderful gift too, for someone who suffers from aches and pains. We also love Epsom salts or Sea Salt, but recently we started stocking Black Himilayan Salt, which is very sulphurous. It’s a bit odd in cooking but you can use it in the bath as it’s full of minerals.   

Organico is open from 9.15 till 6.15 Monday-Saturday. Call us on 027 51391. Visit us on FaceBook or online at And don’t forget we have 10 per cent off absolutely everything in the Shop on Saturday, December u – and 10 per cent off our online shop on December 7 and 8. 

Hannah Dare

Hannah Dare co-runs Organico, the café, bakery and health shop in Bantry, West Cork.

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