Health & Lifestyle

The best books on Natural Living

recommended by Janey Lee Grace

Most of us are overfed and undernourished, according to this natural-living guru and bestselling author. Plus a free tip: "Always look in your kitchen cupboard before you go to a pharmacy"

  • 1

    Everybody’s Guide to Nature Cure
    by Harry Benjamin

  • 2

    Slim 4 Life
    by Jason Vale

  • 3

    Ultra Health
    by Leslie Kenton

  • 4

    What Really Works in Natural Health
    by Susan Clark

  • 5

    F**k it
    by John C Parkin


Most of us are overfed and undernourished, according to this natural-living guru and bestselling author. Plus a free tip: "Always look in your kitchen cupboard before you go to a pharmacy"

Janey Lee Grace

Janey Lee Grace is an internationally bestselling author whose books on natural living range from diet and exercise tips to natural first aid for children and adults. She is a former backing singer and radio presenter.

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Everybody’s Guide to Naturecure.

It’s a really ancient book – it’s just about still in print – but it’s the first look at naturopathy and it really opened my eyes to how everything we need is in nature, but somehow we’ve lost it all along the way.

Naturopathy is an integrated approach to natural cure and allowing the body to heal itself where it can, obviously with the aid of the correct diet and nutrition and also, where appropriate, herbal and homeopathic remedies. This particular book must have been radical when it came out in 1936. It must have been mind-blowing. He talks about the importance of sun-bathing, which we would now see as very controversial. We’ve all gone bonkers on sun protection but we’ve forgotten that heliotherapy, the healing power of the sun, is incredibly important. Old-style naturopaths would get their clients to literally bathe in the sun for half an hour, under controlled conditions, and it would actually aid their recovery. Obviously, I fully appreciate that we’ve got an ozone layer to worry about now, but even so I think this bonkersness we have about plastering on sun cream even in the winter – I don’t buy that at all. Most sun creams are full of chemicals anyway. He’s got some quite controversial stuff in there – I think a coffee enema might be a bit much for most people – but it’s a really eye-opening book.

What does he say we should be eating and drinking? 

Well, the basics are whole foods. The book says eat whole grains, small amounts of protein, masses of fresh fruit and vegetables (and vegetable juices) and, in an ideal world, no refined fats or sugar. It’s obvious stuff really. Just common sense. But most of us have come so far away from it. Harry Benjamin was also a friend of someone called Bates who devised the Bates method of sorting out your eyesight with muscle exercise, and he talks about that in the book.

Slim 4 Life, Jason Vale.

I’m a big fan of Jason Vale and this is one of his books where he gets into the whole psychology of weight loss. What he’s saying is that you can lose weight very, very easily, or be a healthy weight, by going on a juice detox fast and it’s something I do once or sometimes twice a year. I go to one of Jason’s juice detox retreats in Turkey – I drink just juices and smoothies for a week and I come away feeling incredible. It’s about way more than weight loss – it’s about a complete mindset really, a way of life. It’s along the same lines as the Naturopathy book in that a lot of it is just common sense but we’ve forgotten it all. We’re so toxic in our bodies that every now and then we just need a kick up the backside to say: give yourself a chance here and think what you’re doing. Your body is an amazing thing but it needs the right fuel and most of us are not giving it the right fuel.

It doesn’t sound like common sense to me to drink juice for a week. You must be starving. 

It’s all very carefully worked out. We’re not talking any old carton of apple juice. You have everything you need nutritionally in the juice including your pro-biotic content. It’s living fuel that gets straight to the cells. People find that not only do they lose weight (and, interestingly, if you don’t need to lose weight you don’t) but many, many people find that all kinds of minor ailments just disappear – eczema, asthma – just by kickstarting the immune system.

Are there juice recipes in the book? 

There are some and he has other books that are only recipes such as 7lbs in 7 days (, but this one is quite a lot about the psychology behind weight loss and juicing.

What is the psychology behind it?

What happens is that we spend such a lot of time digesting our food and we put so many different types of food in at different times that it can overburden the system. What fresh juice does is get straight to the cells where it’s needed. There might be an argument for people in hospitals not to be given the plates of tacky carbohydrate but to be given fresh juices and it might hit the spot and give you the energy you need to recover. Most of us most of the time are overfed yet undernourished. This is a great way to redress that situation.

Ultra Health, Leslie Kenton. 

She is the person who has inspired me most. There are lots of things around that we think are quite new but she’s been on them for years. In her book she looks at everything from diet to exercise to sun care and treatments, but one of the things I remember most was rebounding, mini trampolines. We think of this as new but she was promoting it in the 80s. She is also an advocate of Far Infrared Therapy, FIR, which, again, is a treatment that is not known about very much unless you’re in with naturopaths and holistic healers.

I have never heard of it. What is it?

You’ve probably heard of Far Infrared Saunas?

No, I haven’t!

Some gyms have got them, but FIR treatment therapy is actually used in hospitals in Germany to treat cancer patients, which just shows you how way behind we are here where most people have not even heard of it. I work with a little charity called Yes To Life which offers alternative treatments to people with cancer and they loan FIR machines to their patients and they are just amazing for helping to shrink tumours and you just plug it in and lie under it. It’s not to be confused with an infrared lamp.

What Really Works in Natural Health, Susan Clark.

She helps you sift through the real science from the marketing hype and make the right choices for you and your family. She also goes through every ailment and gives a suggestion for how you can help cure yourself with herbal remedies or kitchen cupboard remedies. She’s very sensible, though, and she’ll also tell you where conventional medicine is going to be more appropriate. It’s an amazing reference book to have on hand and its sister book is What Really Works For Kids which I just have as my bible.

Can you think of any fun examples? 

Well, the first thing I’m turning to is your skin. So, if your skin is dry and tired it probably means you’re not getting enough essential fatty acids so she suggests adding a teaspoon of liquid flaxseed oil to breakfast cereal. She also suggests foods that are brilliant for your skin – avocado, apricot, broccoli, beetroot, figs, fish, garlic…all the good stuff. If you’re bloated it’s often a sign of hidden wheat or dairy allergy so she suggests taking a probiotic, drinking peppermint tea and she mentions a herb called gentian, that you can make into a tea as well.

What’s your new book about? 

Well, it’s everything to do with natural living and it’s called Look Great Naturally…Without Ditching the Lipstick. It’s certainly not only about beauty though I cover everything from ethical fabrics, through DIY cleaning, Feng Shui, mindfulness – even colonics!

So what would be your tips to natural living?

Well, if you want something general I would say: Always look in your kitchen cupboard before you go to a pharmacy. The chances are you’ve got something in your kitchen that will solve the problem without needing to darken the door of a pharmacy.

So, what about a headache? I take a lot of ibuprofen and paracetamol every time anything hurts.

Oh no! You don’t want to do that. The best thing to do is drink masses of water. The other great thing is feverfew and you can buy capsules and also willow bark from a health shop and finally you can apply tiger balm to your temples but I would advise you to use a natural one and not the one with petroleum in it.

What about keeping fit?

Again, I’m a big fan of rebounders, the little trampolines. It’s the best all-round workout other than swimming and that’s been proved by NASA scientists who got their astronauts doing it. I’ve also just trained to be Nia teacher – it’s a holistic form of dance and an incredible workout for both body and mind.

F**k It, by John C Parkin.

This is such a great book. I know that he holds retreats somewhere beautiful like Portugal. When I saw it I just thought: Oh, trendy title and zero substance. But, interestingly, it really is a fantastic read. It’s a reminder of all the self-help stuff you’ve ever done. I don’t know if there’s anything groundbreakingly new in it, but he’s saying that you’ve got to do what you can, eat well and exercise and do acts of kindness and all the things we learn from self-help books all the time but, ultimately, at the end of the day, you need to just let it go. That was so great for me. I’d be agonising over certain things for ages but this book just told me to take a deep breath and say: Fuck it. It’s so simple.

You mean that ‘fuck it’ is his life advice? 

Exactly. If something goes wrong, fuck it. It doesn’t mean trample over other people or don’t care about your health. He says all that matters, and you do what you can, but after that stop sweating the small stuff.

How does that fit in with going on juice detoxes?

Really well. I had an international bestseller with Imperfectly Natural Woman and the imperfect bit you just don’t worry about. It’s the ‘small change big difference’ approach. But the more you start down this route the more passionate you become and you end up actually wanting to do more anyway, wanting to eat healthily. But if you fancy a piece of cake you just say: fuck it, it’s not going to kill you.

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Janey Lee Grace

Janey Lee Grace is an internationally bestselling author whose books on natural living range from diet and exercise tips to natural first aid for children and adults. She is a former backing singer and radio presenter.