Want to lose weight? Want to give your health a kickstart? August is the perfect month to start a new healthy regime.
In my book The Natural Year I give suggestions (nothing more) about how you might adjust your diet and lifestyle to live a little more in tune with the seasons. Generally this is pure common sense – making use of seasonal foods; adapting the amount and type of food you eat according to the weather.
So, how about August? Well, this is a time to eat light and cool. Soft fruits are plentiful now so make the most of them (but aim for organic if you can – pesticide use is heavy on soft fruits). Think about super salads and check the recipes from Exmoor House for summer barbecues and picnics. Middle Eastern food is adapted for hot weather – I am still missing the heavenly vegetarian food of Israel from my trip last year.
If you want to lose weight, this is an ideal time of year to do it gently, naturally and easily. Your body doesn’t need so many calories to keep warm and you naturally feel less hungry when it’s hot. If you really want to kickstart weight loss, try juicing.
I’ve talked about juicing before but, if you haven’t already discovered the wonder of fresh juicing, August is a good month to begin. Not only are they delicious but they are a great way to get lots of vitamins (particularly those essential anti-oxidants) without having to chomp your way through pounds of steamed veg. They also have individual health-giving properties of their own.
Many naturopaths say that a day a week on a diet of vegetable juices will be beneficial to anyone. They usually recommend you have between 500-700 ml up to a litre. Take the juice in sips throughout the day, don't just gulp it down. Make sure in addition you drink plenty of water - you could also supplement the juice with weak rose hip tea to help elimination through the kidneys.
So why is vegetable juice so wonderful? In general vegetables are highly alkaline in their nature and have the ability to bind acids and eliminate them through the kidneys and urine. So it's not surprising that alkaline vegetable juice can be so useful for people who suffer from rheumatism and arthritis.
As far as weight loss goes, a few days on a juice fast will shrink your stomach and make it much easier to carry on with a light diet. Obviously, if you have any health issues then check with a health practitioner before any kind of fast.
Anyhow, a quick run-down of some super-juices to try…
CARROT: The essential oils in carrots have an effect on the mucous membranes of the body and stimulate the circulation of blood in the stomach and intestinal tissues. Because of this balancing action carrot juice is also good for constipation and diarrhoea and all sorts of digestive problems.
Often when the digestion is sorted out, other problems disappear - many people find their headaches, eczema and bad skin all vanish when the digestion is functioning properly. If you suffer from frequent coughs and colds remember carrot juice - it is refreshing and soothing and helps battle against infectious diseases.
Packed full of anti-oxidant vitamins it is a feisty fighter against the free radicals that cause disease and ageing. And its rich supplies of carotene (provitamin A) improves the eyesight and stimulates the production of rhodopsin (visual purple) the lack of which causes night-blindness.
As if all that were not enough, carrot juice is said to help balance your weight and to give a beautiful complexion - certainly worth trying.
BEETROOT: This dark purple juice is my absolute favourite (and now you can get beetroot in all shades - including white). Beetroot contains betaine which stimulates the function of the liver cells, protecting the liver and bile ducts. 100mg of beetroot juice contains 5mg of iron in addition to trace elements which encourage the absorption of iron in the blood. Everyone can benefit from beetroot juice but it is particularly recommended in the first two years of life, during puberty, during pregnancy, when breast-feeding and during menopause. Children from six months to two years need only a teaspoon of juice before meals.
CELERY: Celery is alkaline and encourages elimination and so it is recommended for any diseases or problems connected with an accumulation of wastes and toxins - ie rheumatic and arthritic ailments. It also regulates the water balance in our bodies and is superb for elderly people. Personally I don't like it solo - so mix it in with other juices (but it's a question of taste).
TOMATO: Tomato juice is highly acidic so not recommended for arthritic or rheumatic conditions. In addition, quite a large number of people find they are intolerant of tomato. However it has interesting properties. The old herbals say it can help with overtiredness and combat unpleasant body odour. They also suggest it is a protection against premature ageing. It is a lovely refreshing juice which cleanses the body. Bloody Mary? Hmm, not quite the mix I had in mind. :-)
Of course, you can experiment with a wide variety of juices. Naturopaths will often recommend particular combinations and Polarity Therapy, a therapy that combines elements of naturopathy, ayurveda and other Eastern influences strongly advocates the use of fresh natural fruit and vegetable juices to aid healing and general health. The following are recommended by the founder of Polarity Therapy, Randolph Stone:
FOR CONSTIPATION: cabbage, spinach, celery and lemon juice.
FOR SKIN CONDITIONS: carrot, beetroot and celery juice.
FOR ARTHRITIS: carrot, celery and cabbage juice.
FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: celery, beetroot and carrot juice.
FOR LOW BLOOD PRESSURE: carrot, beetroot and dandelion juice.
FOR ASTHMA AND CATARRHAL CONDITIONS: carrot and radish juice.
TO OPEN UP SINUSES AND AIR PASSAGES - horseradish and lemon juice (4oz of horseradish and 2oz of lemon juice, combined with one teaspoon of garlic juice and a tablespoon of honey - take a teaspoon four times daily.)
TO HELP YOU SLEEP: celery juice.
TO SOOTHE THE NERVES: lemon and lime juice.
FOR SORE THROATS AND COLDS: lemon, lime and pineapple juice.
Adapted from my book The Natural Year – a seasonal guideto holistic health and beauty, in which I talk about my belief that we can all live more balanced, healthier lives if we work with the forces of nature, rather than pitting ourselves against them. Now updated and available for Kindle at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk