Bear with us here – we all know well the cosy, happy feeling Christmas brings us. The smell of evergreen, the sound of carols, the sight of a delicious Christmas feast; everything combines in a beneficent good will to all men. That’s how we feel anyway. We wondered though, is there a genuine healthy story behind this feeling? Could Christmas actually be good for you?
Well, would you believe it, there just might be some science to back up this festive feeling. Take pine, for example. Far be it from us to suggest that sticking up a dead tree in your front room, sitting in front of it and eating chocolate currency from a sock isn’t a little strange, the pine bit actually makes sense. Researchers in Japan have unearthed proven stress relieving properties from the smell of these trees alone. Pine can also be brewed in tea to offer the human body a whole range of healthy compounds including Vitamin C, flavonols and bioflavonoids, proven to ease joint pain and improve circulation. Its oils can be used in massage to soothe muscle pain and ease a tired mind. Christmas is already bearing fruit and we haven’t got past the tree yet!
On to the music. From hymns in church to carols in the street and shops blasting out festive favourites, it would be impossible to disassociate this time from its familiar music. What distinguishes or, perhaps, is amplified by Christmas music more than any other genre, we reckon, is its power to recall memory. It is not necessarily the quality of the song that brings us back every year but our experience of it over time, and the music’s ability to stir our earliest memories and move us emotionally. This is good for you. Nothing engages every single part of our brain more so than music. Music can boost memory, improve cognition and puzzle solving abilities, even physically alter the neurological pathways in our brain to make us more intelligent!
Now. The food. Known to be a a time for waistband expanding, belt-loosening over-indulgence, the Christmas feast has some remarkable hidden benefits to which we’d like to call your attention. The lowly brussels sprout, for example – admittedly a tricky vegetable to love – contains the highest concentration of nutrients of any of the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, all the fun ones). In particular, these tiny green bad boys contain isothiocyanates, a chemical group that keeps our cells in check and stops us getting cancer. Nice. Parsnips, a vegetable we adore and have already praised at length in a previous post, are great for the gut, allowing healthy bacteria to grow and strengthen from certain compound sugars found in this mighty root. Awesome.
Finally, what would the Christmas feast be without turkey? This fabulous bird has one of the highest concentrations of an essential amino acid called tryptophan. Used to create serotonin, tryptophan is directly contributing to our chemical happiness. What’s more, serotonin is in turn used to create melatonin, which helps us induce deep sleep. No wonder we feel tired after Christmas lunch…
So there you have it. Christmas could actually be good for us. From the scent of the tree and the tunes on the radio to the food on our plate, there is so much to love about this time of year and, happily, so much to benefit from when it comes to our health!
From all of us at Fare Healthy, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Be Well x