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Natural health tips for starting as you mean to go on this New Year

The start of a new year often sees our spirits plummet. The parties are over, it’s cold and dark and it’s back to work. But January doesn’t have to be as gloomy as you think.

There are plenty of ways to start the New Year with a spring in your step, says Editor Jane Garton, as she shares her natural health tips.

Establish a regular health regime

For most of us, staying healthy is all about what we do 80% of the time. So, here’s what to do on a regular basis.

Start the day with a glass of hot water and a slice of lemon to support your liver detoxing. Follow this with a freshly squeezed organic vegetable juice to help boost your immunity. Eat organic food at home and enjoy and chew it well. Stick to one coffee or two teas a day and 14 units of alcohol a week.

Re-energise

Feeling weary? Rhodiola is a performance-enhancing herb, which helps to increase physical and mental energy and reduce fatigue as well as boosting well being. It also has a stimulating effect on the immune system helping us to ward off the common viruses, which are rife at this time of year.

Watch your gut

Torso of a woman in white t-shirt making the shape of a heart with her hands, over her stomach.

Feeling bloated after weeks of festive eating? Boosting your gut’s ‘good bacteria’ could be the answer as well as soothing symptoms of IBS if you are a sufferer. Go for a probiotic supplement containing Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus.

Boost your intake of prebiotics by eating food which feeds your gut’s good bacteria such as artichoke, asparagus and leeks. This will help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream. Garlic and onions are also natural sources of prebiotics.  Alternatively, try a supplement.

Go dry

The benefits of opting for a dry January include improved sleep, more energy and a sharper memory. Other plus points of going dry even for a short period include weight loss, improved overall health, reduced liver fat, and lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Cutting back on alcohol for a short time could also help you cut down in the long-term.

Eat the Mediterranean way

A salad of olives, tomatoes, cheese and basil representing the mediterranean diet

It’s well-known that following a Mediterranean diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts is good news for heart health.  What is less well-known is that it’s just as good for your head.

Not only are people who eat a Mediterranean diet at lower risk of getting dementia, they are also less prone to depression, according to a recent study from Spain. Go for a rainbow of colourful fruit and veg to get the full range of brain-boosting antioxidants.

Try a natural mood booster

ST John's Wort flower with bright blue sky background

St John’s wort is a traditional herbal mood booster that studies show can be effective at treating mild-to-moderate depression. HTP, the natural precursor to serotonin, has also been shown to play a role in regulating mood and appetite, and in some studies has been shown to be as effective as prescription drugs for treating depression.

Pat a pet

Feel happy in five seconds flat. Stroke a cat or pat a dog. Time spent stroking and talking to animals increases endorphins, the body’s own feel good hormones in the brain and decreases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can make you feel anxious. If you don’t have your own pet volunteer to look after someone else’s.

Have a good day

Happy woman in the woods with arms stretched out

Boost your happiness levels by deliberately choosing to have a good day. This means adopting a can-do attitude and putting your ball into play first instead of always reacting to other people or letting others decide what happens to you.

By being proactive you make a conscious choice about what you do and don’t do. Think what you can give to the world rather than what the world can give to you. Try doing this for a week and you’ll be amazed how much happier you feel.

Stop the clock

Doing the same things over and over again soon takes its toll on energy levels and before you know it you are so down in the dumps that even the simplest exercise becomes a chore. Stop now and learn to just be. Do absolutely nothing. Just sit down or simply stop and stare. Try it for few moments at least three times today and every day. Forget your thoughts and worries and relish the empty moment. You’ll find this helps to centre you and keep your mood upbeat.

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