Five holiday health tips from The Nature of Things
Five holiday health tips from The Nature of Things
‘C’ is for cold?

The holidays coincide with cold and flu season — a time when we turn to age-old remedies to keep from getting sick. Not only is Vitamin C touted as a tried and tested cure for the common cold but many people take it all winter as a preventative measure.

The real benefits of Vitamin C have been debated for decades. Some people believe that vitamin supplements aren’t necessary but are just big business. Bryce Sage, a curious filmmaker, and health-freak wanted to find out: does taking vitamin C supplements benefit our health?

WATCH: The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me

Good sleep for a thinner you

It can be tough to get a full night’s sleep. Canada is the third most sleep-deprived country in the world; nearly a third of us don’t get enough shut-eye. Less sleep will make you tired — something that can be cured with a big cup of coffee — or two.  But new research is showing that sleep plays a much larger role in your health.

MORE: Sleep: More Important Than You Think

In While You Were Sleeping, Jennifer Gardy meets scientists who have discovered getting less sleep can cause people to eat more, leading to weight gain. 

So, it’s a good idea to schedule that nap BEFORE a big holiday meal — your waistline may depend on it!

Is it love? 

Knowing if your date is interested in meeting you under the mistletoe may be easier than you think. In Body Language Decoded, behavioural analyst Lillian Glass claims to be able to determine if a couple is in love.

According to Glass, signs of genuine interest are easy to spot, if you know where to look. “When I look at people, I look at the whole person, I don’t just look at one thing,” she says. Whether they know it or not, a couple with a strong romantic connection will display their love for the world to see,  in the way they lean towards each other, where their feet are pointing, and how they smile at one another.

Take care of your microbes, and they’ll take care of you

Gut microbes outnumber your body cells ten to one, and they live inside you. These microscopic bacteria form a unique ‘ecosystem’,  breaking down nutrients to help you get the most from your meals.

MORE: The Junk Food Diet: How does it affect gut microbes?

During the holiday season, we stuff ourselves with rich fare and tasty treats, washing it all down with a good helping of alcohol.  This diet starves our microbes of the high-fibre nutrients they rely on, allowing undesirable bacteria to take over causing obesity and other health problems.

Tim Spector, genetics professor and author of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat has been studying guts microbes for years and has some advice for how to take care of your gut during the holidays. Resist boiling your brussel sprouts and other veggies. Cook them slowly in garlic and olive oil. Keep the skin on your potatoes and add root vegetables to the mix as much as possible. Mixed nuts and cheese platters are great for introducing healthy microbes and happily, and red wine is the winning alcoholic beverage when it comes to feeding your gut bacteria.

WATCH:  It Takes Guts

Spector says that with "a few festive tips, you can help your microbes survive until the New Year without breaking too much with tradition."

Sweet Science

And what about the dessert table? Kids — and some adults — overindulge on sweets and then regret the hyperactivity that comes with a sugar high and the grumpiness that follows from the "crash";  But does too much sugar affect our mood?

In Myth or Science 3: You Are What You Eat, Jennifer Gardy wanted to find the truth and devised a sneaky experiment to determine if sugar is the culprit.  The sugar crash is all in our minds, says Gardy. While too much sugar is not good for you, our brain can't store glucose and gets a steady flow no matter how much we over-indulge.