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ESP’s wellbeing expert, Karen Devine, looks at how to winter-proof yourself and make it through the dark January days with some plant power, a little TLC for mind and body and ways to boost your mood…

Over the past few years, studies show that lowering our meat intake and increasing foods from the plant kingdom can help to lower the risk of many modern health issues and diseases such as heart disease, strokes, Type 2 Diabetes, lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure as well as the risk of cancer and more.

More recently, research has found that eating more plant foods can help to support our immune system which is particularly important this winter with the ongoing challenges we’re facing.

The winter months give us the opportunity to add more plants by way of vegetable soups/stews, hearty bean dishes with lots of greens. Not only do they support our immune system they also bring nutrients that support our skin and mental wellbeing, which we really need at this time of year.

Get a winter glow…

Our skin can get very depleted in the winter resulting in dry skin, lips, and hands as we get tucked up with central heating or a cosy log burner. We also tend to drink less fresh water, eat less fruits and leafy greens which have good water content.

There are ways we can give our skin a boost –

· Drink more water - keep that bottle to remind you to have some sips during the day. You can also have some warm water with lemon/orange etc.

· Increase healthy fats in your diet such as flax/chia seeds, oily fish, nuts/seeds, good quality olive oil, avocado etc. Fats offer protection to your skin whilst helping to hold water in the cells.

· Treat yourself to a facial or look for home facials that help nourish and moisturise the skin. You may need to add a richer moisturiser or add a serum to your skin care not only to hydrate the skin but to give a little more barrier protection.

· Eating plant foods with orange/yellow/green colours will deliver lots of skin loving beta carotene.

· You can still enjoy smoothies with fruits/leafy greens in the winter, but you may need to add in warming spices such as cinnamon/ginger to give the body the warmth it needs.

· Adding in a winter super-green nutrient dense powder that will also help bring lots of chlorophyll (and other plant nutrients) that can support skin, nails, hair as well as immunity.

· Getting lots of sleep will help keep eye bags and dark circles away.

Boost your mood…

Lifting our mood in the winter can be more difficult, we are not getting out in the sunshine as we do in the late spring /summer months. It’s a time you may want to supplement with Vitamin D!

We can also help our mental wellbeing in the following ways –

· Getting together with friends/family and having a games night, wholesome conversations and laughter to help you feel more connected.

· Avoid too much TV, especially the news, keeping an eye/ear out on world/local news is one thing but living with the TV on in the house 24//7 can make you depressed, anxious and fearful.

· Getting out in mother nature can bring her calming energy to us. Wrap up and enjoy the fresh air and the winter sun when we can get it.

· Sleep deprivation affects our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Get some early nights.

· Lessen the amount of caffeine and stimulants such as sugar you take in, not only can this affect immunity but also your mood as our blood sugar can be affected.

Read more from ESP's wellbeing expert here

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