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A wonderful Christmas time

Expert tips to support your health and wellbeing this Christmas

Christmas pudding, mince pies and mulled wine are synonymous with the festive season, but rich food and drink can leave our digestive systems feeling rather delicate. However, with a little bit of help from our natural health experts, you can hopefully enjoy a happy and healthy Christmas.

Strike a balance

"The holiday season is a time of celebration, feasting, and indulgence," says Lara Buckle, a qualified and registered nutritionist ( "However, the excesses of Christmas can take a toll on your digestive system and liver, and the same goes for your loved ones. It's important to strike a balance between enjoying delicious treats and ensuring the wellbeing of both you and those you care about. If you know you'll be indulging during a specific celebration, plan for it by having a lighter meal earlier in the day. This can help balance your calorie intake and reduce the strain on your digestive system. Savour your meals and be mindful of portion sizes. Overeating can overwhelm your digestive system and lead to discomfort. Try to balance indulgent meals with healthier, fibre-rich options like salads, vegetables, and fruits to maintain regular digestion."

Make small changes

There's no need to make huge changes to your traditional Christmas dinner. Simple swaps can make a positive difference. "Explore creative alternatives like roasted cauliflower, vegetable and nut loaf or fish for a healthier main course which is less likely to trigger a bad digestive reaction," says Dr Nabeetha Nagalingam, a microbiome expert, and lead scientist at gut health brand, Omed Health ( "Opt for fibre-rich sides like chestnuts and Brussels sprouts to aid digestion and promote fullness. Also, experiment with reduced oil usage in food preparation, especially for roasted dishes."

Just the tonic!

"Some of the best natural aids for digestion are herbal bitter tonics," says Dr Chris Etheridge, medical herbalist and Chair of the British Herbal Medicine Association ( "These bitter herbs include yellow gentian, German chamomile, artichoke leaf, dandelion and peppermint, and can be taken as teas, tablets or tinctures before meals. They stimulate the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes which help the body to digest and absorb rich, fatty food. Milk thistle is traditionally used to relieve the symptoms associated with occasional overindulgence of food and drink such as indigestion and upset stomach, and to support liver health. If indigestion and heartburn are problematic, then try a soothing herb such as slippery elm which contains phytochemicals that coat and soothe the stomach and help to maintain a healthy digestive system."

Keep hydrated

"Cheers to celebrating, but let's not overdo it with the drinks," says Siobhán Carroll, a naturopath, herbalist and trainer for A.Vogel ( based in Ireland. "Too much alcohol can overburden the liver, so sip mindfully or try some yummy non-alcoholic alternatives. Keep that glow going by sipping water like it's your favourite cocktail. Proper hydration helps to flush toxins from the body. It's like a spa day for your liver and helps digestion too."

Try some herbal help

"Digestive health can worsen over the festive season due to larger meals being eaten, richer food being eaten and more alcohol being consumed," says Dr Chris Etheridge. "The high stress levels associated with this time of year can also disturb digestion and cause bloating, fullness, indigestion and tummy upsets. Calming herbs such as valerian, skullcap, vervain and hops can help combat these symptoms, if stress is a contributing factor. Wherever possible, look for the THR logo displayed on pack when buying herbal remedies over-the-counter and online."

Be mindful

"Practise mindful eating by savouring each bite and chewing food thoroughly," says Siobhán Carroll. "This aids digestion by breaking down food particles, making it easier for your body to absorb those nutrients." She adds: "It's not just the food – stress can mess with our digestion too. So, try to avoid family squabbles and stressful encounters and have more chill time and fun with friends. If need be, practise saying no to social occasions you'd rather avoid!"

Choose gut-friendly foods

"Incorporate foods high in fibre and polyphenols like fruits, vegetables, berries, and nuts, into your Christmas meals," says Christianne Wolff, celebrity trainer and founder of the Body Rescue Plan ( "These foods support a healthy gut microbiome. Add probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut to your diet. They can help balance your gut bacteria and promote better digestion, which helps to reduce tress. Minimise the consumption of sugary and processed foods, as they can negatively impact your gut health and contribute to stress. Make or buy some healthy alternatives instead."

Give your liver a helping hand

"Consider incorporating foods like artichokes, dandelion greens, and turmeric into your holiday meals," says Lara Buckle. "These have natural detoxifying properties and can aid your liver in processing the excesses of the season. Stress can affect digestion and liver health. Engage in relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress levels, promoting better digestion and liver function."

Try this!

"Adequate sleep is vital for overall health, including the wellbeing of your liver," says registered nutritionist Lara Buckle. "Ensure you get enough rest during the holidays to give your body time to recover and detoxify."

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