Must Have/Must Do: Tuesday's book: Foods for Mind and Body by Michael van Straten

She's a startling icon of the Nineties: hair of flying herrings and strips of lean meat, kiss-curls of ginger and mussels, oysters for ears, a complexion of mixed pulses, a carrot nose, rosy apple cheeks, blackcurrant pupils set on apricot eyes, a collar of celery laced with basil leaves and rosemary, studded with hazelnuts. Not only is she unforgettable, but she's good for your memory: an edible mnemonic of the foods to tone up your little grey cells.

Everyone I've shown her to so far has wanted the book in which she appears. For van Straten's goddess of brain-food prefaces illuminating advice about which foods increase your mental energy and concentration. And mental energy is today's philosopher's stone: a healthy brain is worth far more than gold these days. The prospect of spending a fifth of our lengthened lives short of several essential marbles haunts us all.

The biggest irony of the current obsession with food is that it's harder than ever before to eat right. We are so deluged with contradictory research that none of us can remember what's good for us and what isn't. Moreover, the range of choice is so infinite, and so deeply tangled up with convenience, fashion and fear, that most of us simply don't know where to start.

Michael van Straten, a renowned naturopath, leads us through the jungle of rumour and offers lucid answers in a highly palatable fashion informed by both modern medicine and traditional herbal lore.

He explains what key foods we need to maintain physical strength, stamina and mobility, and why men and women should be eating different things. Then he maps our needs at different stages in our lifecycle, from infancy, through teenage, twentysomethings, "prime time" and third age.

The next section covers the role food plays in mental energy, concentration, sleep and mood. Then there's a whistlestop tour of fashionable diets, and a detailed and dashingly designed food index explaining what the good- for-you foods do for you. Finally - and hypochondriacs may well have started here - there's an ailments index which explains how food can help everything from asthma and arthritis to TB and varicose veins.

Van Straten is not promising miracles, but what he says makes a whole lot more sense than the official medical line of hitting everything on the head with costly wonderdrugs. Nor is he a fanatic: chocolate eclairs are allowed occasionally if you eat wholemeal bread most of the time.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Since I read the book two weeks ago, I have been religiously (and food is, of course, now a religion) snacking on "trail mix" to keep my blood sugar in balance, sipping rosemary tea for remembrance (so that's what the Bard meant) and wrapping myself round five fresh fruits and vegetables a day. The result? Pinky and Perky have nothing on the new bright-eyed bushy-tailed me.

HarperCollins, pounds 19.99

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Life and Style
A general view during the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Earl's Court exhibition centre on 2 December, 2014 in London, England
fashionIt's not all about the catwalks: the big changes of the past year can be summed up in six clothing items
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

    £32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

    Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

    £25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?