How to shine this summer
We all want to look -- and feel -- our best over the summer. But what are the steps that you can take to ensure that you actually achieve this?
1 MARINADE YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH
We've had half a glimpse of sunshine, so it must be time to drag the barbecue out of the shed, dust off the cobwebs and get charcoaling. However, barbecuing meat does come with somewhat of a health warning.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are created when fat drips from grilled meat on to the hot coal beneath it.
The smoke and hot flames from the coals that blacken barbecued food then send the PAHs upwards to land on the meat. These chemicals increase our risk of developing cancer, especially if eaten regularly.
But don't worry, there are simple things you can do to reduce the potentially harmful effects, such as marinating the meat first. Use citrus juices, rosemary, spices and olive oil which are rich in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. Also choose lean, small cuts of meat and cook at lower temperatures, flipping every couple of minutes.
2 BANISH CELLULITE
Orange-peel skin is a fact of life for most women, however, sticking to the right foods can help to suppress it and when it comes to cellulite, prevention is most definitely better then cure! Go for foods that are high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Essentially this means a high fruit and vegetable intake as well as eating plenty of oily fish and nuts and seeds. Drinking plenty of water is also essential to an anti-cellulite diet because water helps to flush away toxins from the body. Try starting the day with a glass of warm water with half a squeezed lemon to aid liver detoxification. Avoid processed foods and those high in sugar and salt and reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption.
3 EAT IN SEASON
In today's world, you can virtually have any food at any time of year. Is this beneficial, though? Not necessarily. Ultimately, you are likely to pay a higher price for far inferior nutritional content when it is out of season. The longer the produce sits since harvesting and in transportation, the more nutritionally depleted it becomes. With the availability of foods year round, many of us get stuck in a rut, eating the same foods over and over again. Eating seasonally brings us back to our roots, back to a simpler time when we ate what we had, and what we had came from local sources. Eating local crops in season has a variety of benefits for your health, as well as perks for your local community, the economy and the environment.
4 MAKE THE MOST OF SUMMER FOODS
Light, cooling foods benefit the body during the warm summer months. Fresh fruit and vegetables are in abundance during this season and should be taken full advantage of. Summertime is also the best time to eat your vegetables raw, considering we spend the rest of the year cooking them. Raw vegetables provide the body with living enzymes, oxygen and potent vitamins as well as fibre. June's most seasonal foods include spinach, mange tout, gooseberries and strawberries. July's seasonal foods are watercress, courgettes, raspberries and blueberries, while August brings the best tomatoes, beetroot, plums and salmon.
5 DITCH THE SANDWICHES
Summer is the perfect time to ditch the sandwiches and opt for a tasty and nutritious salad. Bread is a fast release carbohydrate which means it can upset our blood-sugar balance and cause energy dips, the mid-afternoon slump being a classic example. Salads, on the other hand, are always a quick, easy and healthy option which will keep you energised and alert throughout the day. But don't just eat a bowl of leaves, make sure to add a good source of protein to fill you up. The easy-open tins of tuna, salmon or chick peas can be taken to work and put into a salad.
6 EAT YOUR FIVE A DAY, THE RAINBOW WAY
While it's important to 'eat your greens', it's just as important to eat your reds, oranges, yellows, blues and purples, too. So what benefits do the different pigments that colour fruit and vegetables bestow? Well red cherries, red peppers, strawberries and tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a potent age-defying antioxidant that has disease-fighting properties and can also help protect against sunburn. Oranges, apricots, carrots and mangoes contain beta carotenes, antioxidants that protect your skin from ultraviolet damage. Green apples, broccoli, rocket and spinach are good sources of lutein, a carotenoid that is good for skin hydration and healthy eyes, whilst purple grapes, beetroot and blueberries all contain a plant pigment that reduces inflammation in the body.
7 ALKALIsE YOUR BODY
Achieving and maintaining a proper pH balance in your body is vital to your overall health and well-being, so alkalise your body if you want to look and feel your best this summer. In its natural state, the pH of the body is slightly alkaline. The majority of us have become overly acidic. That's because nearly everything we are exposed to -- foods, environmental toxins, even stress -- contribute to an acidic condition in our bodies. Roughly 75 to 80pc of your diet should consist of alkaline-producing foods. Most vegetables and fruits alkalise, as do lentils, coconut, soybeans, almonds, buckwheat, millet and quinoa. All meats are acidic, as are rice, pastas, cheeses, soft drinks, coffee, alcohol and sugar.
8 BITE BACK
Whether abroad or at home, avoiding getting bitten by mosquitoes is a universally shared obsession. The most widely available natural alternative is vitamin B1 (thiamin) and certainly, the anecdotal evidence for taking B1 to ward the pesky insects off is huge. B vitamins work best in synergy with each other so go for a B complex and take it for a couple of weeks before your holidays. Also, mosquitoes, like many insects, do not like the smell of garlic, so eat a clove a day to keep the mozzies away.
9 GIVE HAY FEVER THE HEAVE-HO
There are natural ways to build your body's resistance to hay fever and alleviate symptoms. First and foremost, it's vital that you stay hydrated in order to help flush the system of toxins, so aim to drink at least two litres of pure water per day. Herbal teas, such as rosehip, ginger, chamomile, peppermint or liquorice may help to soothe mucus membranes and decrease allergies symptoms. Chamomile teabags, placed on the eyes, can also help to soothe the itchy feeling you get from hay fever and reduce redness. Many people report that taking a Quercetin supplement works well as a natural alternative to anti-histamines. Food sources of this natural antioxidant include citrus fruits, apples and red onions.
10 HEALTHIER FLIGHTS
If you're lucky enough to be heading abroad you may want to follow a few simple tips to avoid the unpleasant symptoms that come with flying, such as bloating, wind and water retention. This can be done easily by avoiding the obvious culprits, such as fizzy drinks, caffeine and alcohol. Instead, stay hydrated with plenty of water or herbal teas. Also, avoid salty snack foods such as crackers and pretzels that can contribute to water retention by bringing your own healthy snacks such as nuts and fruit. That way you'll arrive at your destination feeling light and energetic.
The new series of How Healthy Are You?, which sees nutritional therapist Elsa Jones and her team of experts offer advice, starts tomorrow, at 7.30pm on TV3