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Festive health myths

Thursday 4th December

With the festive season underway, we’ve pulled together some of the most common seasonal health myths and the facts behind them, to help you separate fact from fiction this Christmas and New Year. 

Hangovers can be ‘cured’

In general hangover cures are myths. There are no real ‘cures’, except for time to allow your body to recover. The best way to avoid a hangover is to avoid alcohol, or if you do drink, keep within the recommended limits and be sensible about how much you consume. Take a look at these tips for coping with a hangover.

Poinsettias can be ‘deadly’

Poinsettias are a common Christmas feature, but it is common belief that they can be deadly if ingested. However, whilst the plants can potentially cause a minor reaction, research has shown that they are in fact fairly harmless. A significant quantity would need to be ingested in order for harmful effects to occur. Find out more about this myth.

 Suicides peak over the Christmas period

This is a myth. Whilst for some, the Christmas period can be difficult - bringing with it a great deal of stress and an increase in depression over the dark winter months, there is no evidence for a peak in suicides during this time of the year. If you do think that you yourself, or someone you know, is suffering from mental health problems this Christmas, speak to your GP as soon as possible or contact mental health charities such as Mind who will be able to help you with advice and guidance.

Sugar will make your children hyperactive

It’s a myth! As Christmas comes round, it may seem like the many sugary treats available will keep your children in a constant state of hyperactivity. In fact, studies have shown that sugar doesn’t make children hyperactive – it’s more likely that a special occasion or celebration in fact, it can be other external factors relating to the circumstances in which children have a lot of sugar that cause the hyperactivity. For example, at birthday parties, they will become more excited as they play games, see more children and then become very tired. Find out more about sugar and hyperactivity.

If you stick to one type of drink, you won’t get a hangover

Incorrect. You might think that by not mixing your drinks, you won’t end up hungover the day after the Christmas party. However it is the quantity you drink which has more effect on how you’ll feel. To avoid a hangover try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach and drink plenty of water or soft drinks to help keep you hydrated throughout the night. Keep check of how many alcohol units you consume with our useful guide to measuring units.

Eating late at night will make you fat

With all the evening festivities leading up to Christmas day, you might think that all the eating in the evening is making you gain weight. However, it doesn’t actually matter what time you eat – what matters is the amount of calories you take in in relation to how much physical activity you do. Take a look at this guide to understanding calories for further information.

Eating turkey makes you sleepy

Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid which is essential for your body. It controls the amount of serotonin your body produces, which, in turn, controls the amount of melatonin you produce – which controls sleep patterns. After Christmas dinner, it’s often said that the enormous helping of turkey we’ve all had is the reason we feel drowsy. However, turkey contains no more tryptophan than other poultry or minced beef. The probable cause of your post-Christmas dinner drowsiness is the fact that you’ve eating a large meal - with many having a few glasses of alcohol too - which will also make you feel tired. 

 

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