Back to nature


Got a niggle? There’s a simple, natural solution for that

If the idea of boosting your health using nature’s bounty and some easy lifestyle tweaks appeals, Patrick Holford’s book Good Medicine (£14.99,  Piatkus) is your must-have health bible. Patrick is one of the UK’s best-known advocates of a natural approach to good health and has written more than 30 books on the subject. 

Good Medicine is, in its own words, ‘a guide to the most effective, safe and natural ways to help prevent and reverse many diseases’. It’s a comprehensive handbook for those looking to live a healthier life and combat health issues from a natural perspective.

So why go natural? ‘It’s not really a question of choosing a “natural” approach, but choosing to address the true causes of your health issues,’ says Patrick. ‘The place to start is to research what these underlying causes are. The reason I have written Good Medicine is to provide a shortcut to the main underlying causes, and their treatment, for over 75 common diseases.’

It’s about treating the root cause of your problems, rather than just trying to ease your symptoms. So, if you’ve got a niggle you need nixing, Patrick’s got the answer.

The problem: A sore throat

The solution: Vitamin C – and lots of it – to boost your immunity. Take a good-quality high-dose vitamin C supplement or have a shot of Cherry Active or Blueberry Active (from £15.99, to boost your immune system and fight off infection. Patrick also recommends stocking up on herbs such as goldenseal, echinacea, ginger and elderberry, and increasing your zinc intake – seeds, eggs, nuts and beans are all good sources. Ginger, garlic and carrots are also a great addition to any good immune-boosting diet.

Avoid: Sugar, refined carbs, alcohol.

The problem: PMS

The solution: It’s important to eat a low-GL diet to keep your blood sugar even and balance your hormones. You’ll also need to keep omega-3 and omega-6 topped up to keep those hormones in check. Munch on oily fish, nuts and seeds, cruciferous veg, and fermented soya such as tempeh, chickpeas and lentils. And take a B complex supplement and a good-quality magnesium supplement (200-300mg) daily – magnesium is particularly good for relieving water retention and mood swings.

Avoid: High-sugar foods, refined foods, alcohol, meat and dairy.

The problem: Infertility

The solution: Having trouble in the baby making department? Top of your shopping list should be zinc and vitamin B6 – that’s oysters, lamb, nuts, eggs, rye, oats for zinc and cauliflower, watercress, bananas and broccoli for B6. Make sure you’re getting enough omega-3, too, for healthy hormones. Cut back on alcohol and avoid cigarettes and pharmaceutical or over-the-counter drugs. Make sure your weight is in a healthy range as being underweight or even moderately overweight can affect your fertility.

Avoid: Refined foods, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

The problem: IBS

The solution: First up, Patrick recommends taking an at-home food intolerance test or seeing a nutritional therapist for an allergy test. If this doesn’t shed any light on the situation, check your fibre intake and make sure you’re eating enough to support good bowel movement. It’s also worth considering whether excess stress may be playing a part in the ‘shutting down’ of your digestive system.

Avoid: Foods rich in sulphur – bread, eggs, onions and dried fruit – beans and cruciferous veg, sugar and wheat, refined foods, alcohol, tea, coffee, cigarettes and spicy foods.

The problem: Insomnia

The solution: Want to catch quality zzzs? Patrick recommends boosting your melatonin by taking a 5-HTP supplement or supplementing with melatonin directly – 3-6mg should do the trick. Steer clear of stimulants and take minerals that promote calm, such as calcium and magnesium. The herb valerian could also help and, if you’re really struggling, try cognitive behavioural therapy. It can help patients acknowledge the stress that stops them from sleeping.

Avoid: Sugar, refined foods, caffeinated drinks and alcohol.