Before we begin signing off for what I hope will be a more normalised Christmas this year, I wanted to talk more about winter health over the coming months. It is such a busy and hectic time of year for many, and this can mean that our immune systems need a little bit more support. Antioxidant intake usually takes a bit of a back seat through December but that doesn’t have to be the case. A lot of traditional Christmas foods have beneficial properties:
From a plant-based perspective on a Christmas plate it is not unusual to see cranberries, red cabbage, parsnips, sprouts and carrots all packing a phytonutrient punch. They all have an array of benefits, ranging from high antioxidants due to the proanthocyanidin content, natural sources of vitamin C, fibre, beta-carotene and B6. Not only does this support immunological health but other health benefits are linked to these foods too. For instance, a journal paper from Food and Nutrition Research (Khoo et al. 2017), details the potential health benefits anthocyanins may have. These are typically the red, purple, and blue coloured fruits and vegetables, so red cabbage would certainly fall into this category. To keep it brief, their research concluded that these food properties can have the ability to down-regulate inflammatory pathways, cytokines and may also play a role in prevention of certain diseases including CVD, neuroprotection, diabetes etc. I fully recommend checking out the paper online and have linked it below.
If you consume meat, Christmas Turkey is also likely to be on your menu (if there are any left on the supermarket shelves)! Turkey is a fantastic source of protein, but also contains key supportive amino acids such as tryptophan. It also contains sources of, B vitamins, and immune supportive minerals such as zinc and selenium. If you can, ideally go for free-range or organic. I will be delving into organic, macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals more in some future blog posts, but I won’t overload everyone during the festive period! Understanding whole-food approaches, dietary sources of vitamins, minerals, and the knowledge of what health benefits these provide are covered in the Naturopathic Nutrition course here at the Hippocratic Institute. Don’t think I would miss out the humble spud, I think we can all agree that Christmas dinner is not complete without some roast potatoes! Although given a bit of a bad rep recently, potatoes do contain good sources of magnesium, potassium, and fibre. The broad topic of carbohydrates and cooking oils will be covered in the coming months because for many these can directly impact on their immunological wellbeing and inflammation levels and this is where personalised nutrition is key.
Before I sign off, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas from the Hippocratic Institute. I hope that 2022 brings health and happiness to all, and very much look forward to welcoming and working with new students in January.
Journal paper: Khoo, E. H., Azlan, A., Tang, T. S., et al. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: coloured pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food and Nutrition Research, 61(1), 1361779.
NT Dip CNM, BA Hons