Stay healthy and happy this Christmas

Christmas is a time when our digestive and immune systems come under attack from rich foods, excess alcohol and, in the run up to the big day — stress.

“It’s the overload of unhealthy foods, combined with people’s exercise regimes being thrown out the window that makes Christmas such a testing time for our immune systems,” said dietician Margaret O’Donoghue. “Making the right choices in terms of foods and lifestyle can help you make it through the season feeling healthy, while still being the life and soul of the party.”

Probiotic expert Yakult has teamed up with Margaret O’Donoghue to provide some top tips for keeping your gut in shape, and surviving the festive season with its plethora of pitfalls.

Christmas morning: It is vital to start the day with a healthy breakfast. Eating something healthy, like a wholegrain bowl of cereal, will boost your metabolism, get your gut working, and is the perfect antidote to overindulgence the night before.

Christmas dinner: You can take some of the fat and calories out of it by choosing white meat on the turkey and avoiding the skin – but one indulgent meal will not do you any harm. However, if you are prone to some indigestion on Christmas Day, you could try some of the following: Eat slowly.

Try not to stuff your stomach full: The temptation is to keep going until you could not jam in another bite, but your gut needs some time to work on digestion before the next food onslaught.

Keep an eye on the fizzy drinks: All that gas can fill your stomach and leave you feeling bloated later on.

Yuletide booze: Alcohol and Christmas go hand in hand, but over-indulging can not only leave your head feeling woozy the next day, it can play havoc with your gut, raising acidity levels and leading to dehydration. To keep hydrated and give yourself a fighting chance, try to match every glass of alcohol with a glass of water.

Staying festive fit: Going to the gym is not very in keeping with the season, but instead of sitting at home feeling guilty watching James Bond re-runs, wrap up warm and go for a brisk half hour walk. Lack of exercise around Christmas time is especially inadvisable as inactivity combined with poor diet is a combination that is guaranteed to lower your immune system and put strain on your gut, thus leaving you vulnerable to winter colds and flus.

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