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Expat Tips: Staying Healthy in a Tropical Christmas Holiday


If your home country has winter in December, spending Christmas in the Philippines will give you a taste of a warm tropical holiday for a change. Although the climate here is not as cold as its neighboring Asian countries like Korea or Japan, the prevalence of flu virus, colds, cough and allergic rhinitis could ruin the most wonderful time of the year. The season of festive food from different places also puts most of us at risk of digestive disorders. While here in the Philippines, there are many local fruits, food products and ways on how to protect yourself from getting sick.


Christmas celebration in a country where people are inherently warm, friendly and generous might be your dream holiday thing, but when illness strikes, it is hard to appreciate the cheerful spirit in the air. Here are tips on how you can stay healthy and happy…so you can party all day and all night with your friends and loved ones.


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Virgin coconut oil (VCO) has a clear appearance like water on room temperature. In groceries, the cold air conditioning turns this oil’s appearance into white and cloudy. VCO is very popular for its medicinal and heal-all properties.


  • Virgin Coconut Oil for overall good health. One way to get rid of the feverish feeling is by taking a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil (VCO). VCO is popularly used as an ingredient for cosmetics for beautiful hair and skin. VCO is also known to prevent heart disease, obesity, liver and kidney disease. More notable is that VCO strengthens the immune system and ideal to take daily to stay healthy. For days when you feel feverish, just take one or two teaspoons of VCO and try not to drink water right away. Let it linger on your throat for a few minutes, then drink water. In this season of overeating, a teaspoon of VCO a day is also a good way to counter all the bad cholesterol from all the festive food that we will eat this season.



The Philippine lime – Scientific name: Citrus microcarpa


  • Get your daily dose of vitamin C from the local Philippine lime – Calamansi.


Calamansi or kalamansi (Citrus microcarpa) is a native, small, round, green, citrus fruit that grows in the Philippines. It looks like the Japanese sudachi or kabosu. Calamansi has other names like Golden Lime or Panama orange. You will often find slices of calamansi beside a plate of pancit (local Chinese noodles) or mixed with soy sauce (toyo) as a dipping sauce for fish or meat dishes.


How to prepare: Slice and squeeze two or more calamansi into a glass of water. Add a little sugar or a teaspoon of honey. Add ice if you prefer it cold. Most people prefer to prepare it with warm water.


Since the calamansi is small, it might be inconvenient to slice and squeeze individually, so one option is to buy a bottle of calamansi juice concentrate instead. This is quite sugary so you need to dilute it in water. Some brands already have honey in their concentrate. Calamansi juice concentrate is perfect to drink on days when you feel you are about to have a fever. Calamansi juice is also known for its detoxifying properties and helps in weight loss.



An artist’s depiction of the Lactobacillus, a bacterium known as “the good guys” found in probiotic dairy health drinks in Asia. In the Philippines, kids love this drink so much that very young school children are familiar with the words “Lactobacillus Shirota strain” since they have a bottle of probiotic drinks in their lunch boxes daily. (Artwork by: Pepper. “Your Brands Is Bland”)


  • Enjoy probiotic milk drink like Asians do. There are many probiotic health drinks in bottles in Asia that are conveniently available in groceries and even served in Japanese restaurants. There is one popular delicious probiotic dairy brand from Japan that was introduced in the Philippines in the early 1970s. The drink is a cultured milk with a good bacterium called Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS). This good bacterium was discovered by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Minoru Shirota. LcS prevents digestive disorders (like diarrhea and constipation), helps build immunity and reduces the risk of infection. For these reasons, probiotic drinks are perfect for the holiday season. It is advisable to drink one bottle before you head to a party or before a long trip. This drink will protect your digestive system from possible harmful bacteria or germs that might be present in the food you will eat. Since probiotic drinks are immunity boosters, this drink will help you be healthy despite staying up late most of the time. This is also good to drink in case of fever.


There are many fruits, vegetables and health products in the Philippines that can help one stay healthy naturally. Keep in mind that these are not medicines and are not intended to replace your meds. Consult your doctor in case of illness and ask them as well about VCO, probiotic drinks and about local fruits in the Philippines.


More holiday survival tips: 


Holiday celebration in the Philippines is greatly influenced by Chinese culture as most Filipinos have Chinese ancestors. Therefore, expect a lot of fireworks exploding everywhere and even all night. This is the typical festive mode especially in Metro Manila. Gear up for the New Year “battleground” by getting ready with earplugs (if you are sensitive to noise) and face mask (like the medical face mask) to protect yourself from lots of gunpowder dust that will float in the air, especially as we get closer to New Year’s Eve. A medical face mask is a must for people who are prone to allergic rhinitis or have asthma.


Stay healthy and safe. Happy Christmas! ♔☆✲✵★





Author: Marcelle Villegas
Photo source:
Calamansi –
Calamansi juice – by Gloria Maris Restaurant –
Virgin Coconut Oil –
Probiotic good guys –

Calamansi info –
Virgin coconut oil –






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