Managing Holiday Excesses
By Mark J Kaylor
Tis the season, celebrations and feasts abound from Thanksgiving all the way through to New Years. But all these festivities often come at a cost. Overindulging, especially of the foods popular this time of the season, can lead to weight gain and blood sugar swings. All the demands and expectations often result in heightened stress levels and even depression. Not only this but heart attacks are at their highest this time of year as well. What’s a person to do? We all want to take part in this holiday season that is meant to be filled with gratitude, giving, joy, celebration, and togetherness; for far too many though, it isn’t. So without turning into some kind of Scrooge we need to keep in mind that health doesn’t take a holiday, neither does sickness. And the last thing we want is to spend the holidays sick in bed battling a cold or flu.
To help us enjoy the holidays while maintaining our health there is help from an unexpected group of healing allies, namely medicinal mushrooms – not something we normally associate with this time of year but maybe we should be. These four natural remedies, Maitake D-Fraction, SX-Fraction, Reishi, and Cordyceps, are just what the “natural” doctor ordered.
The immune disturbing combination of too many sweets and carbohydrates, insufficient sleep, travel, and holiday stress can put such a strain on our health that colds and flu often show up. To hopefully prevent this disrupting duo from appearing we can kick in our immune system’s functions with the Maitake D-Fraction. This extract of the Maitake mushroom has demonstrated potent immune activating benefits, including increasing the numbers and activity of immune cells while also improving communication and overall function of the immune system thereby maximizing our body’s natural defenses.
Hand in hand with optimizing immune health, especially with the dietary and libation excesses of this holiday season is supporting healthy metabolism, and a leading disruptor of this is blood sugar imbalances. Here again, the Maitake mushroom can be a useful ally in the form of the SX-Fraction. Laboratory and clinical studies have confirmed the SX-Fraction’s ability to effectively balance healthy blood sugar and insulin levels, including 3 clinical studies with type-2 diabetics. There was even one study that compared the blood sugar and insulin activity of Maitake with a leading pharmaceutical and found that is worked more quickly and effectively than the drug. The evidence suggests that its mechanism of action is by improving cells response to insulin. This was seen in the research in SX-Fraction’s lowering of total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
A Tonic Holiday
Two ancient tonic remedies, Reishi and Cordyceps, also bring valuable support. Sounding just like the Scrooge I am trying to avoid sounding like, we all have some familiarity with the stress, immune strains, lack of sleep, tension and anxiety, along with the need to detoxify the excesses of the season. For this we have what I would call the “tonic for the holiday season” in that Reishi can help us with all these issues and more. Being a digestive bitter it can stimulate digestion and even help manage blood sugar spikes.
Cordyceps is my remedy of choice for the New Year. An all-around whole body tonic that strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, especially important over the winter, Cordyceps helps develop and encourage motivation and drive, just the energies we need going into a New Year; and maybe just the boost our New Year resolutions needs.
Put That Fork Down
For many of us, the four main food groups over the holidays are cookies, pies, candy, and booze. And while the average weight gain over this time is only a couple of pounds, the problem is that this extra tends to stay around as well as accumulate. That means after only 10 years we may now carry an additional 20 pounds, enough to make weight the health issue. So to help us out, here are a few food-related tips to help you maintain your weight.
• Think of maintenance; heaven-forbid, do not try to diet over the holidays – this is more than likely to backfire.
• Eat a hearty healthy breakfast. Studies show we are less likely to indulge in sweets and overeat later in the day when we do.
• To keep the overeating in line, try a couple glasses of water and/or have a salad first.
• Eat mindfully. Savor and enjoy each plate. Putting your fork down between bites can help with this.
• Don’t starve yourself leading up to the “big” meal. Research shows we are more likely to overdo it when we go.
• Get sneaky; “healthy-up” those traditional dishes with something good for you. Try cauliflower in your mashed potatoes.
• Rather than food being the center of attention, try instead focusing on your family and friends.
• And if none of this is helping to control your eating, break out the skinny clothes, once you start struggling to stay in them you’ll probably stop overeating.
Overdoing the Holiday Hooch?
This time of year, especially New Year’s, often brings with it an overindulgence in “strong drink,” spirits, adult beverages, liquor; with the dreaded day after results – hangovers. Is there any hope of relief or prevention? Yes. But first, let’s be clear, if you really want to avoid a hangover the guaranteed cure is simply not to drink. OK, so let’s say you do decide to drink, here are some tips.
First though, we should mention a few natural remedies that may be of help.
Reishi again jumps out because it can help protect the liver (which is charged with dealing with all the alcohol) as well as rejuvenate it. The liver herb Milk thistle also makes sense for these same reasons. Prickly Pear extract if consumed a few hours before hitting the bottle was shown to decrease the risk of a bad hangover by 50%.
• Water is your friend; before, during (for every 2 alcohol beverages, drink 1 glass of H2O) after, and the next morning, so drink up.
• If you are drinking, clear booze is the “hangover safer” choice.
• A few teas to consider, Green tea with its EGCG stimulates detoxification pathways while Ginger and Peppermint can help with nausea.
• Chug some Sprite; a study found it helped the body metabolize alcohol better.
• Odd but true; eat some Asparagus, it was found to protect liver cells while speeding the breakdown of alcohol.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Keep in mind, it’s the holidays! They only come once a year. Some indulging is fine, just keep the operative word “some” in mind and be careful not to make these indulgences habits. Remind yourself what the holidays are supposed to be about, not how much you can eat or drink, nor how much you how many gifts you give; make family, friends, maybe even a stranger or two your focus. Be thankful… enjoy… and stay healthy.
Mark J. Kaylor has been exploring holistic health and healing for over four decades. He is the founder and director of the not-for-profit Radiant Health Project. Mark welcomes you comments and questions and can be contacted at his website: www.RadiantHealthProject.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/RadiantHealthProject