How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays (and still have a good time)

The holiday season is the time of the year when families and friends get together to eat, drink and be merry. Many of us indulge with a promise to ourselves that we will start fresh in the New Year. And we all know how well we keep those promises.

This holiday season, why not mitigate the holiday damage, so you have less clean up come January. And that begins with your liver.

Your liver performs over 500 metabolic functions that includes cleansing harmful toxins from the body. Everything that you eat and drink is processed through your liver. During the holidays your liver has its work cut out for it!

Try to avoid or limit:

  • Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach means it hits your body (and liver) quickly. Eating a full, healthy meal before drinking any alcohol slows down the absorption rate.
  • Mixing alcohol and some medications creates a toxic soup that gives your liver a hard time. Acetaminophen is especially hard on the liver when combined with alcohol, so skip this pain killer if you’ve had a drink.
  • Large fatty meals are destined to aggravate liver inflammation – the precursor to liver damage.
  • Eggnog, mashed potatoes, pecan pie, buttery rolls and candied yams are some holiday foods loaded with fat. Try being moderate in your choices and portions or endeavour to find some fat reduced recipes for some of your favourites.
  • Soft drinks, cakes, pastries, and candy bars all contain table sugar, which means fructose. The effect of fructose on the liver cells is similar to alcohol: fat accumulation and oxidation. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is becoming more and more prevalent, is commonly a result of too much sugar.

Try to include:

  • Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, kelp, brown rice, garlic, onions and molasses are high in selenium, which increases the breakdown of alcohol and toxins.
  • Eggs, fish, legumes and seeds are high in methionine, which aids in detoxification pathways.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are high in sulphur compounds, which help detoxify pathways, and are a vital building block to produce the antioxidant, glutathione.
  • Whole grains, chicken, wheat bran and nuts contain vitamin B5 that speeds up detoxification of acetaldehyde after alcohol consumption.
  • Wheat germ, dried peas and soybeans contain vitamin B1, which reduces the toxic effects of alcohol.
  • Milk thistle helps to reduce liver damage caused by a variety of toxins like acetaminophen, excess iron and alcohol.