Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Summer Is Here And You Can Make It Your Best Ever

There has never been a more important time to think about good nutrition for yourself and the whole family. Global warming increases the risk of sun damage and skin cancer. Rising temperatures in countries unused to dealing with them increases the risk of food poisoning. And the threatened arrival of pandemic virus infections makes it vital for us all to take preventative action. I wrote a book called Superfoods in 1989 and as far as I know, was the first to use that term to describe foods that offer something over and above the normal fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamin and mineral content calculated by nutritionists. Now, 25 years later, the world has caught up and the word is used as well as misused everywhere.

The true Superfoods are often simple, everyday things like carrots, cabbage, onions, beetroot and garlic. And while Goji, Acai and blue berries are certainly Superfoods, so too are our home-grown strawberries, raspberries and blackberries; all at a fraction of the price of exotic imports. Fresh and dried fruits; vegetables; nuts and seeds are Superfoods – all an essential part of a healthy diet. Take it from me, the man who invented the word.

Natural Tips For Summer Health And Energy
With summer on the way, outdoor living and holidays to look forward to, everyone wants to feel and look their best. No matter what else you do, making sure that your diet overflows with all the protective, energising and mood-enhancing foods is the cheapest, easiest and most effective first step.

And if you do need to drop a size or two, here’s the perfect summer diet plan that helps you do it in the most healthy and easy way.

One really common problem is the summer holiday cold. As the stresses of holiday time build up, the anxieties of travelling, getting everything packed, coping with crowds at airports and traffic jams on the roads, it’s inevitable that extremes of tension take their toll. When you finally arrive at your destination, your exhausted immune system switches off and by the second day you’re coughing and sneezing.

Now’s the time to think about boosting your natural immunity before the holiday season even begins.
Start your day with a glass of any fresh fruit or vegetable juice, a good source of protective anti-oxidants and free from artificial colours, preservatives and sweeteners.

Michael’s special muesli
Then have a bowl of sugar free Muesli. For the best absorption of nutrients, prepare the night before by soaking the muesli in a little juice and stirring in a pot of low-fat natural bio yoghurt. By morning you’ll have a smooth, creamy mixture with a host of friendly immune-boosting bacteria. Then add your own favourite fresh fruit and a spoon of fromage frais or single cream.

When it comes to workday lunches, it’s easy to get into a rut and make the same choice day after day. But optimum nutrition needs as wide a variety of food choices as possible. Instead of your usual tuna, sweet corn and mayo sandwich, try a healthy vegetarian pizza or a kebab. Not the awful Donner kebab oozing fat, but a lean chicken or lamb shish kebab cooked on a skewer, served in a wholemeal pita bread with plenty of salad – followed by your own soaked dried fruit salad sprinkled with a heaped dessertspoon of mixed seeds for extra omega 3s, zinc, vitamin E and fibre.

In the evening, choose a good low GI starchy meal like pasta, brown rice or sweet potatoes, with your favourite sauce and vegetables. This will help you sleep and give you lots of slow release energy. During the evening, use mixed dried fruit and nuts as a satisfying and nutrient rich nibble for lots of immune boosting protective nutrients.

Go easy on the alcohol, but drink around 2 litres of fluid a day, including lots of juices.

A one-month course of the registered herbal medicine, Kaloba, could also help boost your resistance to the bugs that cause colds and flu. This extract from an African Pelargonium is known to relieve the symptoms, but at your most vulnerable, it may be protective too.

Michael’s Summer Survival Plan
Surviving summer can be a bit of a battlefield, but one way of making sure you win this particular fight is to know your enemy and take the appropriate steps.

Almost half the people in the UK still think that being brown is healthy. In fact, a suntan comes from damaged skin. Starting with dark, brown, or even black skin is not necessarily a protection either. The most important way of avoiding skin cancer during the summer is regular use of high factor sun screen, wearing a hat and loose fitting clothes and keeping out of the sun. Take special care to replace creams after swimming or excessive sweating. Keep children out of the sun and everyone out of the midday heat.

Foods containing vitamin A and beta-carotene help protect your skin and as everyone wants nice skin in the summer, eating foods rich in the essential nutrients is important. A low-fat diet mustn’t mean NO fat. Omega 3 fatty acids from oily fish and unsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocadoes, with their vitamin E content, are essential skin nutrients.

B vitamins, from wholegrain cereals like oats, wheat and barley in good muesli; and beta-carotene, from fresh and dried apricots and berries; are all extremely valuable. If you have sensitive, dry skin, take two capsules of Evening Primrose Oil every day for three months.

Most families will normally spend more hours together during a two-week summer holiday than at any other time and this can be stressful. Make sure you include plenty of feel-good foods like basil, rosemary, lemon balm and nutmeg in your regular cooking.
Also top up the nerve-strengthening B complex vitamins with extra meat, dairy products and eggs as well as all the wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds. This is where the herb Hypericum can play a vital role. The Ancient Greeks called it the sunshine herb as it brought happiness into people’s lives.

Today, scientists know that St John’s Wort, its common name, is a powerful mood enhancer and as effective for the treatment of mild to moderate depression as prescribed drugs, but without the side effects. Karma is a high strength, registered herbal medicine containing 425mg of St John’s Wort per tablet and effective for the treatment of low mood and mild anxiety.

Travelling itself can be a trial, so as well as the obvious wet wipes, tissues, games, tapes and DVDs to keep the kids happy, ward off the dreaded travel sickness with Crystallised Ginger cut into small cubes and dusted with icing sugar to stop them getting sticky. If children won’t eat the ginger, use ginger biscuits or take a thermos of ginger tea sweetened with honey on the journey. Sea Bands use acupressure to prevent all types of nausea. They’re extremely effective and available from all chemists.

Instead of high sugar sticky sweets and chocolate, give youngsters a mixture of dried cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and any others you can find.

Finally, to help prevent the all too common travellers’ tum, eat plenty of garlic before you go. If you really don’t like the taste you’ll find garlic pills at any health store or chemist.
Make sure you have a daily pot of live yoghurt and a dose of Yakult too, as these natural probiotics protect the digestive system.

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