Christmas Health All Wrapped Up

Three generations of women enjoy Christmas dinner

With Christmas dos starting earlier and earlier it might be time to put in a little prep to help keep you fighting fit through this season’s festivities. Investing in these little gifts to yourself should help . . .

For your immune system . . .

Woman lying in bed looking ill

Pic: iStockphoto

No single supplement, tonic or food can magically stop you from getting ill but these could give you a hand:

  • There is evidence to show how this herbal remedy can help you fend off impending lurgies. A review of studies from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy in 2014 concluded it could impressively reduce the chances of catching a cold by approximately 58 per cent and reduced the length of it by 1.4 days. Try A.Vogel Echinaforce Hot Drink, £9.99 and Echinaforce Echinacea Drops, £4.15 for 15ml.

Echinaforce Hot Drink

  • Vitamin C. As Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition for Healthspan, points out, this vitamin is ‘known to increase the production of white blood cells which are key to fighting infections. Alcohol can deplete the body’s stores’. Healthspan’s new Immunity Gold with Wellmune® (60 tablets £18,99), with turmeric, vitamin C and zinc, is a powerful new supplement to help contribute to the normal function of the immune system with vitamin C and zinc, which also help to reduce tiredness and fatigue. The type of beta glucan in Wellmune®  has a very specific chemical structure which is thought to stimulate the immune cells to better recognise and attack invaders such as viruses and bacterial infections. It works to help protect the immune system and it differs from other forms of beta-glucan in both chemical structure and its biological activity.

Immunity Gold Tablets

Robert Hobson

Robert Hobson, Head of Nutrition for Healthspan.

For your stomach . . .

Red velvet cake

To help your digestive system survive the festive onslaught of seasonal snacks and alcohol and, heaven forbid, norovirus, be prepared with:

  • Silicolgel, £8.29 from Superdrug – this handy product quickly helps calm and soothe the digestive system by forming a protective coating over the lining of the stomach and intestines. It has been found to be helpful in reducing IBS symptoms and also helps to reduce acidity and heartburn. You can take it after you have eaten, but if you are prone to stomach upsets, acid and wind, try taking it before meals.
  • Dioralyte, £3.86 for 6 sachets. These contain a helpful mix of glucose for energy and mineral salts to help replace fluids and electrolytes lost if you have been laid low with a stomach bug and/or diarrhoea. As GP Dr Roger Henderson says, ‘It is dehydration rather than the virus itself that can be particularly dangerous.’ They can also help balance hydration levels if you are hungover.

For your home . . .

We all want to set the scene for Christmas, but sadly many scented candles, room sprays and diffusers contain synthetic fragrances and toxic chemicals which can cause headaches, nausea or, in the worst case, trigger asthma attacks and allergies. For healthier alternatives you might want to try:

  • Puressentiel Purifying Air Spray, £9.99, a combination of 41 natural essential oils which GP Dr Gill Jenkins explains, ’does not add to the toxins already in most homes and reduces airborne levels of many toxins and irritants.’ (Boots, Whole Foods).
  • Prosody Wood & Woodknot candle made with 100% organic ingredients containing a festive blend of pine needles, frankincense and cedarwood, £75 (
  • Vax Pure Air Purifier is accredited by The British Allergy Foundation and Asthma UK. This time of year with colds and viruses, indoor mould, candles and crafting materials being used in the home an air purifier helps to trap and remove potentially harmful particles from the air by drawing in dirty air, filtering and releasing cleaner, fresher air.  Vax Pure Air 300 Air Purifier, (RRP: £279.99, ) is a convenient solution to indoor air pollution that removes 99% of potentially harmful airborne pollutants and is idea for those with asthma and who struggle with flare-up allergy attacks.

For cold and flu symptoms . . .

  • Kaloba Pelargonium Cough & Cold Relief via, £9.99. This traditional herbal remedy has long been used to help relieve symptoms of coughs, colds and sore throat. Medical nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer says, ‘I’ve found it improves cold symptoms rapidly – certainly within 24 hours – when started as soon as possible after infection strikes. Keep taking it for three days after your symptoms have resolved to stop it coming back.’

Kaloba cold tablets

  • Superdrug Max Strength Cold & Flu Day & Night Capsules, £3.29, to help relieve aches and pains, sore throat, feverishness, headache and drowsiness. Dr Pixie McKenna, Superdrug’s Health & Wellbeing Ambassador, adds that one of the simplest ways to help avoid coming down with colds and flu in the first place is to wash your hands thoroughly (for around 30 seconds) which can significantly cut the risk of you picking up a virus.

For your liver . . .

Full Tea Cup and Half Glass Pot

Pic: iStockphoto

It’s a pretty resilient old organ the liver, but it can only take so much before you begin to feel, well, liverish. Hammering it with rich food and alcohol won’t help, so ideally try to have at least two alcohol free drinks a week. These could also help you through:

  • Vogel Milk Thistle Complex tablets, £10.99, containing not just milk thistle (the active ingredient of which is silymarin, said to regenerate liver tissue) but also dandelion and artichoke (which improves the liver’s production of bile to improve digestion) plus stomach-soothing peppermint. Take one tablet twice daily.
  • Pukka Green Tea Bags Collection, £2.99 (Holland & Barrett, Ocado) – substituting your usual tea for an antioxidant rich green one could reap liver health dividends: A large Japanese study found drinking five-10 cups of green tea daily was associated with improved liver health.

For your skin . . .

Drops in temperature and humidity means skin becomes more susceptible to dry skin conditions.   This should be your cue to switch to an oil based cleanser (like The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil) and to lock in further moisture try:

  • Epionce skincare ( Dermatologist Dr Mervyn Patterson ( says, ‘The contrast of harsh wind and cold outside temperatures mixed with central heating really stresses the skin. The top layer of the skin which consists of hard flat cells (think roof tiles) separated by thin layers of lipids (fats) is constantly repairing itself. Dry skin is a sign that the repair mechanisms are struggling which results in the ‘roof tiles’ separating and losing of water from the deeper layers. Epionce products have been clinically proven to help.’
  • Our skin is actually most receptive to skincare products during the night, when it works to intensively repair and renew damage sustained during the day. Nurture skincare Intensive Night Treatment Cream, (30ml £17.99, uses pure retinol and works whilst you sleep, triggering regeneration deep inside skin cells and working to visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid, used to lock hydration into the skin plus vitamin C for smoother-looking skin, improved skin tone and refined pore size.

Intensive Night Treatment Cream



Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!