Marlene Watson-Tara, author of Go Vegan and co-founder of the Human Ecology Project gives her tips on healthy summer eating to help us “keep our cool” and improve our health.
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” You may remember these words from the song. “Summertime,” all about lazy days when everything seems to slow down. Summer is a good time to forget our worries and let our hair down. Summer is the season of high energy, joy and passion. It is when nature is at its full and glorious height. It’s a time of openness and peace … and the living is easy.
This is the time of the greatest expansion of energy in the cycle; it is the most abundant time for growth. The foods that are most needed when the weather is warm are salads, fruits and green vegetables – and lighter cooking is required. Cooking needs to be subtle as well, so be sure not to overcook. This kind of food will help us to keep our cool and improve out health.
Healthy blood from a naturally balanced diet
When all stretched out, there are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in a body. Understanding vascular health is of paramount importance. Many diseases are caused by compromising the flow of blood to various tissues. As my friend John McDougall MD eloquently put it, close the arteries to the brain and you have a stroke; to the eye, macular degeneration; to the inner ear, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing), and vertigo (dizziness); to the heart, myocardial infarction; to the kidneys, renal failure; to the leg, gangrene; and to the penis, impotence. The vessel walls of arteries with unhealthy blood resulting from an unhealthy diet will stiffen within minutes. If you equate the health of our blood to the roots of a tree, a tree absorbs nutrients through external roots; the roots of the body are deep inside in the region of the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. It is here that they enter the bloodstream and are distributed to the body’s cells. This is the home of the major microorganism colonies in the body where food is digested along with pancreatic enzymes. Nutrients are absorbed through the villi, small root like structures on the intestinal lining.
When a tree grows in healthy soil, it receives balanced nourishment and can thrive. But if the soil is deficient in minerals or contaminated with chemical toxins, the tree becomes unhealthy and its leaves eventually wither and die. A naturally balanced diet is like healthy soil. When the body is properly nourished, the quality of the blood is sound, and the cells function in a normal way. So, strong blood is like healthy soil. If food becomes unbalanced, the quality of the blood begins to deteriorate, and the body’s cells may eventually become unhealthy and lead to many degenerative diseases.
In the medicine of the Far East, the energy of summer nourishes the Heart and the Small Intestine. Summer energy provides us with a good opportunity to lighten the diet, cut down on salty foods, eat more raw foods, enjoy fruits and generally relax the system. Sunny days and warmer weather call out for an orderly and relaxed way of being. Summer is an easier time cut the sugar, coffee, black tea or alcohol out of a diet.
You may find the light and simple foods of summer helpful if you suffer with digestive problems. Simplicity is the key, nothing fancy or complex. The abundant variety of raw vegetables and fruit, and lightly cooked dishes help restore the balance and calm the system. Foods that over-heat the body are not good for the heart and salt is usually reduced.
Drink more water
It is usually a good time to increase the amount of pure water we drink (always at room temperature), particularly first thing in the morning, as we lose approximately half a cup of water each night when we sleep, and the cells need hydrating when we awake. The brain is composed of 80% water so water will make you will feel more alert. You might also try dry skin brushing before having a shower – it will not only make your skin velvety smooth but also increase circulation, creating a healthy glow.
Avoid processed foods
Eating a plant-based vegan diet does not mean living on processed foods, sweets or soft drinks. You must eat FOOD AS GROWN to receive the adequate protein you need daily. Corn on the cob is one thing, corn crackers are different, potatoes are a wholefood, and potato crisps are not. When adopting a wholefood plant-based vegan diet, there are some things you must do properly. It’s not just a matter of eating snack foods or processed fake ‘meats’ and burgers, and think you are going to be healthy.
Food to lose weight
This is the best time of year to lose weight, so choose foods which are easy to digest. Sea vegetables salads such as wakame with grated apple, mixed fresh greens are a great way to pack in minerals. Vegan paella served alongside a delicious summer salad. Use spring onions and some parsley for garnish. Foods that strengthen the heart are bitter endive and dandelion, asparagus, whole grains such as rice and bulgur or couscous. Dandelion root tea is an excellent tea for strengthening the heart and also aids in digestion.
About Marlene Watson-Tara
Marlene is a high profiled and dedicated health counsellor and teacher with over 40 years’ experience of transforming lives. She is a graduate of T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition Studies eCornell, New York and an expert in her field on plant-based nutrition. Marlene an international author of the best-selling book ‘Macrobiotics for all Seasons’ and her most recent book ‘Go Vegan’, which is also available worldwide. Her dietary advice draws from the fields of Macrobiotic Nutrition, her studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine and her certification in plant-based nutrition. Marlene teaches alongside her husband Bill Tara and have graduates of their Health Coach Programme in 27 countries.