Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Natures Morning After Pills

Hell hath no fury like a hangover. You vowed you'd never do it again, you took the pledge, you joined the Temperance Society and swore you'd never touch another drop - but that was last year.

Despite all your good intentions here comes Christmas and the combination of all that wonderful rich food with the seemingly unavoidable excesses of alcohol, and it's time for the action replay. But don't panic, here's how to nurse yourself through the horrors of a Christmas hangover.

- Don't go out on an empty stomach. You may think it's an old wives tale but alcohol is one of the few substances absorbed into the blood directly through the stomach lining, so if your stomach is full of food, it happens much more slowly. It doesn't make much difference what you eat as long as it's reasonably substantial.

- Before you leave home, make sure you take a one-a-day tablet of Kwai garlic to speed the elimination of alcohol from your body; 2000 mgrams of the non-acidic vitamin ester C, an antioxidant which reduces the damage done by alcohol; one vitamin B complex tablet, to protect your brain and nervous system and 1000 milligrams of evening primrose oil, a powerful anti-inflammatory and one tablet of Cynara Artichoke Extract which protects the liver.

- In the forlorn belief that prevention is better than cure, you should drink plenty of water along with the alcohol - glass for glass is ideal, but as the evening progresses it will inevitably be more booze and less water.

- When you get home drink at least two large glasses of water. Alcohol dehydrates the body and this is a major cause of some of the worst symptoms of a hangover. If you're able to swallow anything more take another gram of vitamin C and 1000 milligrams of evening primrose oil. If you can't manage anything else, the one thing you must take is another capsule of Cynara Artichoke Extract which helps overcome the effects of alcohol on the liver.

- As soon as you're able next day drink a large mug of ginger tea, sweetened with honey - you probably won't feel like grating your own so use a ginger and lemon teabag. This is the best remedy for nausea and sickness. Take another gram of vitamin C, two Cynara Artichoke capsules and another B complex.

- Have a healing hair of the dog juice made from 4 carrots - full of healing betacarotene, 4 radishes - to calm down the liver, and 2 apples - for their cleansing and detoxifying benefits. If you're really desperate, add a small tot of vodka. It's best to get someone else to make this for you as the noise of the juice machine will probably tip you over the edge.

- Finally, your first food should be a steaming bowl of chicken soup filled with healing enzymes, easy to digest, and guaranteed to bring you back into the land of the living in the shortest possible time.

If all this fails, the ancient Romans resorted to desperate measures after their Bacchanalian feasts, boil a whole head of garlic in a pint of red wine, let it simmer for 10 minutes, add a dessertspoon of honey and sip - serves you right!

Protective Foods Before, During and After

Eating the right foods before you set off for the party can make all the difference. By the time you arrive there'll be nothing left but salty nibbles, cold sausage rolls and a few curling sandwiches, and in any case after you've had a few drinks you won't be thinking of food. The ideal is something really starchy like a bowl of rice and vegetables, a dish of your favourite pasta, or a large jacket potato with some baked beans. These are all digested quite slowly and will make sure that your alcohol absorption is more gradual.

Alcohol really is extremely toxic and damaging to the cells of your brain and nervous system, so make sure you fill up with some of the powerfully protective antioxidants. The richest sources are all the red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, and the dark berries and cherries. Stir a handful of blueberries into a carton of bio yoghurt - the good bacteria protect your digestive system as well. If you've got a juicer make a large glass of carrot, apple, celery and fennel juice which is not only good protection but the fennel will keep your liver working and help your system to get rid of the alcohol.

Before you leave home make a large jug of ginger tea - grate one inch of fresh ginger root, add a pint and a half of boiling water, cover and stand for 10 minutes, strain, add a dessertspoonful of honey - drink one glass before you go and pour the rest into a Thermos. Leave it by the bed so you can have another glass as soon as you get home and one first thing in the morning. Ginger is the best remedy in the world for the prevention and treatment of nausea.

If you've had a week of partying it's now time to give your body a well-deserved treat, starting with a 24-hour detox which gives your digestive system some R&R. Start with a glass of hot water and lemon juice, some fresh pineapple, a mango and a cup of mint tea. Then go for a brisk walk.

Mid morning, have another glass of hot lemon water, a handful of raisins, dates and unsalted nuts. For lunch have a large, mixed salad with carrots, cabbage, red and yellow peppers, watercress, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Drink at least two glasses of plain water.

The natural bacteria living in your intestines are destroyed by alcohol so replenish them with a daily dose of Yakult and a sachet of the probiotic supplement Beneflora.

In the evening have a plate full of your favourite cooked vegetables, a large jacket potato, filled natural yoghurt and chopped chives, and at least two more glasses of water.

Don't forget your body, a sauna or Turkish bath helps get rid of a lot of waste products and a good massage works wonders too. A professional one is great but swapping DIY treatments with your partner is also healing and fun, and it's easy to get aromatherapy massage oils.

If all this sounds a bit too indulgent, then how about a little exercise. It needn't be anything frantic or excessive, a good brisk walk for half an hour will burn off a bit of the extra weight, but more importantly, stimulate the circulation, get the heart working a bit harder and make you breathe a bit deeper. A grand antidote to the overindulgences. If you want to be really smart why not buy the family some skipping ropes and have some fun in the garden.

Your body has amazing powers of recovery, and you can prove it by following this simple guide which will leave you bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to do it all again during the new year celebrations.




'Chips with everything' may be a pretty good description of great British cooking, but it could just as easily be tomatoes. We add them as ketchup to chips, tomato sauce to pasta and pizza, and juice to our Bloody Mary. Tomato soup is the most popular and fresh, canned, sun-dried or pureed, they make an important contribution to our daily nutrition.

Although they're available all year, there's nothing like the August glut of English tomatoes bursting with flavour and aroma. As a bonus this is when they're most nutritious.

The ancestral home of the tomato is South America where they were first domesticated by the Mexicans. Brought to Europe by the Spanish during the 16th century they spread throughout the Mediterranean thriving and ripening to perfection in the sunshine. It's at their ripest that they're healthiest, which is why our home grown crop has such important health benefits.

It's around three days from picking to plate, so they're harvested ripe which really matters as one of the key nutrients, lycopene, doesn't develop in under-ripened fruit. They're rich in protective antioxidants, especially betacarotene which the body turns into life-prolonging vitamin A, and lycopene which specifically protects against breast and prostate cancer. There's also vitamins C and E, essential for healthy heart, circulation and immunity, and they've got hardly any sodium and lots of potassium to prevent high blood pressure and fluid retention.

Tomatoes are part of the 'Mediterranean Diet' and play an important role in the way this healthy style of eating helps the southern population of Europe to live longer and healthier lives. In fact, looking specifically at prostate cancer, scientists have found that men eating around eight tomatoes a day have a much lower incidence of this condition which is now as common in men as breast cancer is in women. The key substance responsible is lycopene and most recent research shows it can reduce the size of prostate tumours as well as protect against them.

In South America they believe that tomatoes are aphrodisiac and whilst there's no scientific proof they do contain substantial amounts of vitamin E which is important for fertility, so it must be worth a try. Happily we're now much more adventurous in the way we combine aromatic herbs with tomatoes - another bonus from our Mediterranean neighbours. And the herbs aren't just there for taste alone. The traditional addition of fresh basil leaves to raw tomatoes creates a simple salad which not only tastes good and smells good, but makes you feel good, as the essential oils in basil are powerful mood enhancers.

My prescription for a long and healthy life is to eat eight tomatoes a day in any form you choose - you won't need a spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down.



'You are what you eat' says the proverb, and of course it's true. But unfortunately, what most people don't realise is that you're also what you don't eat. In spite of a mountain of information about food, cooking, nutrition and health, the messages get confused and I see in my surgery an ever growing number of people who are either over fed but under nourished or so busy trying to follow up on every piece of food advice they read or hear that they end up under fed as well as under nourished.

It's extraordinary that in this age of information technology and hundreds of websites devoted to food, health and nutrition, of a never ending stream of cookery books, a seemingly limitless supply of TV shows about food and acres of newspaper and magazine coverage of this topic, the average shopper still gets it wrong and seems unable to make sensible choices.

But how do you choose when there are so many conflicting messages don't eat eggs - eat eggs; eat margarine - eat butter; eat soya products - don't eat soya products; you need salt - you don't need salt; skimmed milk is healthy - full fat milk is healthy; chocolate is good - chocolate is bad; eat meat - be a vegetarian . . .

No wonder everyone's confused and alarmed by every new report that makes the headlines. What you must ask yourself when you read these stories is who's behind them, who stands to make financial gain by changing public attitudes and eating habits.

It's enough to make you wonder how grandparents growing up and raising their own families in the 1920s and 30s ever survived without the army of dieticians, nutritionists (qualified and bogus), holistic health experts and lifestyle coaches that exist today. In fact, in many ways they survived much better than we do. There was less obesity, less heart disease, less cancer - and eating disorders were virtually unknown. Your grandmothers relied on common sense, seasonal availability and all the skills they'd learned from their mothers to raise healthy well fed families. And it's just as easy to do this today. Thanks to the enormous variety of food available, it only needs a little thought to make sure your family gets all the essential nutrients in abundance, yet avoids excesses that cause disease.


Next time you go shopping put three equal sized boxes in your Waitrose trolley and follow my easy rules for your one week family food supply:-

The first box should be filled to the brim with good quality carbohydrates: potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, beans, good cereals like porridge, muesli, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, whole wheat flakes.

The second box must overflow with fruit, vegetables and salads. Frozen veg is fine if it's more convenient to your lifestyle and you should also include dried fruits, fresh nuts and seeds.

The third box is a little more complicated. Just imagine it's divided into three compartments - two equal ones that take up 80 percent of the space and a third occupying the last tiny 20 per cent.

The first large compartment contains cheese, milk, yoghurt, eggs. The second large compartment is filled with meat, fish, poultry or alternative vegetarian protein like tofu, quorn, TVP, and the final tiny space is where you put the cream, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, sticky buns and other treats.

Use exactly the same proportions to create the healthiest possible daily diet when you get home. This will make sure that you get at least half your calories from good carbohydrates, no more than a third of them from fat, between 10 and 12 percent from protein and by adding a couple of glasses of wine a day your calories from alcohol will be less than 10 percent and won't exceed the safe number of daily units.

These proportions work for everyone unless there are specific medical reasons why they should eat differently. You'll get your five portions of fruit and veg which contain all the wonderful plant chemicals and anti-oxidants that protect you from heart disease, infections and many types of cancer. You'll have more than enough protein to build and maintain strong muscles and a strong heart. You'll get the essential fatty acids for skin, joints and hormone regulation and, according to latest research, lots of the special nutrients that reduce the risks of hay fever, asthma and other allergies. This isn't hair shirt time - you can still enjoy fresh cream on your strawberries, a piece of chocolate with your evening coffee or a delicious gooey dessert once in a while.

Just to set the record straight, here are the real facts about the food you need. If you can find and afford organic produce, that's terrific, but don't become a fanatic. American paediatricians are already dealing with parents they label 'chemophobes' who are so obsessive about only giving their children organic food that if they can't find organic fruit and vegetables they'd rather give them none. This is madness - the risks of depriving children of any fresh produce are far greater than the risk of chemical residues.

Once and for all, bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and cereals are not fattening or unhealthy. It's what you do to them that makes the difference. Potatoes drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with rosemary and roasted in the oven are wonderful. Pasta with tomato, vegetable or fish sauces are great food. Good wholemeal bread with a thin smear of butter is delicious and highly nutritious.

Buy as much as you can of fresh seasonal produce and don't rely exclusively on ready made meals, takeaways and convenience foods. Some convenience foods though, should always be in your cupboard. Tinned fish of all sorts, all the beans like baked beans, kidney beans, borlotti or chick peas - two or three varieties of beans, well rinsed to remove the salt, a can of tuna, couple of tomatoes, some spring onions, garlic, cucumber, a pepper and your favourite salad dressing makes a healthy nourishing instant meal.

Watch the labels for salt content, salt is known to be a major factor in the cause of high blood pressure and strokes, so aim for 4 grams a day maximum - the average in the UK is 12. Once you start looking, you'll be amazed where salt crops up. Cornflakes, for example, have more salt in one bowl than the equivalent amount of seawater. Throw away the salt cellar and enjoy the wonderful flavours of the food itself enhanced by spices and fresh herbs.

Use more fresh herbs in your cooking. They not only taste good but have wonderful medicinal benefits. Sage improves the digestion of fats. Mint is a powerful antacid and prevents indigestion. Basil calms you down and makes you feel good. Bay leaves are good for chest infections. Garlic lowers cholesterol. Coriander is good for wind and reputedly an aphrodisiac. Dill is great for irritable bowel syndrome. Parsley is a diuretic and helps with premenstrual puffiness. And ginger is the perfect cure for early morning or travel sickness..

Don't be taken in by the 'food police' who try to tell you about the evils of everything you like. And. even more importantly, watch out for the bogus nutritionists and health store allergy therapists who tell you you're allergic to wheat, dairy products, apples, strawberries or anything else you care to mention. These tests are absolutely useless and I see more and more patients - particularly women - who cut out whole food groups from their diet on the basis of these ill informed practitioners with no qualification recognised by any British university.

I was recently buying cheese at my local Waitrose and apologised to the young lady next to me in the queue for taking so long. 'Don't' worry.' she said, 'nice to see someone else interested in cheese, even though it's very naughty because it's high in fat. I love it I feel really guilty eating it.'

I was appalled and, risking being told to mind my own business, I looked her up and down and said: 'You're 5 ft 8 tall, you're barely a size 12 and must weigh less than 9st. That means you're much too thin and at real risk of osteoporosis when you get older. You should eat cheese every day.' Funnily enough, she didn't slap - but I hope she listened.

'A little of what you fancy does you good' is one of the truest of the old proverbs. Healthy eating is about what you do most of the time. The occasional indulgence does no harm to your body - and a great deal of good for the soul.


Dr. Wendy Doyle, spokesperson of the British Dietetic Association, is a outspoken critic of all extreme weight-loss diets. Currently there is huge media interest in the revival of the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet which was popular in the '70s and '80s. Dr. Doyle says:

'The problem is that many popular diet books rely on celebrity endorsement but no science. Because they come up with a new idea, people rush to try them even though they make no scientific sense and can be detrimental to health. The high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, for example, flies in the face of healthy eating advice from expert committees around the world. There is absolutely no scientific basis for this diet and because of its very high protein content, dieticians and nutritionists are concerned about its long-term health risks. What people should be doing is following a regime of high starch, low fat, modest amounts of protein and masses amounts of fruit and vegetables.

Jonathan Brostoff, Professor of Allergy and Environmental Health at King's College, London, worries about lack of some essential nutrients in the average diet and the effect this has on the development of allergies. He says:

'If you want to help your health, the first step is to take care of your diet. Though many of the diseases of “civilisation” are caused by excessive consumption of less healthy foods like fats and sugars, there are many other elements of nutrition that can help with the occurrence and relief of allergies.

'Interestingly, the most recent information suggests that a high intake of foods rich in vitamin E means a lower risk of allergies, especially hay fever and asthma - one more reason to make sure that dietary vitamin E is maintained at a good level.

'We also know that getting more zinc increases natural immunity and more magnesium improves lung function while reducing salt in the diet helps lessen the severity of asthma.

'So everyone should be eating more avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, wholegrain cereals for vitamin E, plus pumpkin seeds, shellfish, liver (but not if you're pregnant), cheese, sardines and eggs for zinc, and beans, almonds, Brazil nuts, brown rice, seafood, bananas and dried fruits for magnesium.'

Dr Ian Drysdale, Principal of the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy in London

"I'm increasingly concerned about the number of patients coming through our out-patient clinic at the College suffering from vague symptoms of lethargy, exhaustion, borderline anaemia, hair and skin problems, after they've suddenly switched from a meat eating to a vegetarian diet. They are nearly always 'moral' vegetarians who are not interested in health or nutrition and haven't sought proper guidance. They tend to live on cheese, eggs, bread and sticky buns and don't understand how to create the proper balance of vegetable proteins like nuts, beans, wholegrain cereals, soya products, and a modest consumption of dairy foods. Good vegetarians are extremely healthy but this group put themselves at increased risk of nutritional deficiencies, high blood pressure and heart disease."


Some of my books...

Sign up for my e-mail newsletter:


10 Day Detox With Kim WildeMichael Van Straten's 10 Day Detox With Kim Wilde

"In this video, we will take you through a series of easy to follow and achievable steps. You too can safely and effectively lose weight as well as significantly increase energy levels".

Migraine Misery?


MigraHerb® Feverfew capsules.

MigraHerb® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the prevention of migraine headaches exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

tickLessens frequency and severity of migraine attacks

tickFor people who have a doctor's diagnosis for this condition

MigraHerb® 30 one-a-day capsules.
Normally £8.16
NOW £6.90
Save £1.26.

» For more information visit www.migraherb.co.uk

De-stress and Energise!


Vitano® Rhodiola rosea tablets.

Vitano® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and mild anxiety, based on traditional use only. Always read the label.

tickHelps revive both mental and physical performance

tickBalances a hectic lifestyle... naturally!

Vitano® 30 tablets normally £13.27
NOW £9.90 - Save £3.37.
Multi-buy deal also available.

» For more information visit www.vitano.co.uk

Not Sleeping?


NiteHerb® Valerian tablets.

NiteHerb® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to symptoms of mild anxiety exclusively based on long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

tickA natural solution to a good night's sleep

tickWake up revived - not groggy!

NiteHerb® 30 tablets normally £6.12
NOW £5.20 - Save £0.92.
Multi-buy deal also available.

» For more information visit www.niteherb.co.uk