When it comes to the perils of winter, health expert Susan Smith Jones advocates the “super foods” for immunity from colds and flu and to avoid the blues often accompanied with the lack of sunlight. Here are her top 10 tips for staying well—mentally, physically, and spiritually—during winter and beyond.
1. Include sprouts in your daily diet. One of the best foods in the world, according to Jones, is sprouts with alfalfa, red clover, lentil, and broccoli sprouts being extremely beneficial. “Eating a quarter cup of broccoli sprouts daily will cut your chances of getting cancer by 50 percent,” Jones said. “Red clover is very detoxifying.” Jones recommends becoming your own “kitchen gardener” and growing your own sprouts for just pennies a day and little tending.
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. “Produce is the most important health care that your money can buy,” she said. When it comes to the organic produce debate, Jones said there isn’t a taste difference; only nonorganic produce contains more pesticides that may tax the body. The bottom line is this: If you can afford to buy organic, do so. If not, just wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
3. Reach for the “super foods.” Blueberries, or “brain” berries, are rich in antioxidants. Garlic, “nature’s penicillin,” has been used for thousands of years to fight infections and can keep the flu at bay. Jones recommends eating one to two cloves a day. Green vegetables offer the most protection against cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
4. Detox. Detoxification is essential in order for our immune systems to function at their highest levels. “The four channels of elimination are the skin, liver, lungs, and bowels, and its important to periodically clean them out. Jones detoxes one day a week, two to three days a month, and seven to 10 days every change of season. (See her recipe for a detoxification smoothie below.)
5. Add supplements to your diet. To fill in the nutritional gaps of the modern-day diet, Jones recommends two essential supplements—Hawaiian Spirulina and Astaxanthin, two natural aids rich with vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants. Also, the moment you feel a cold coming on reach for an Echinacea, golden seal combo. For allergy sufferers, Jones recommends adding 3,000 mg. Vitamin C and stinging nettle leaves on a daily basis to remain allergy-free in the coming spring.
6. Beat the winter blues. For mild depression and anxiety, Jones advises sticking with super foods packed with calcium and magnesium, such as kale, and adding herbs such as black cohosh root, chamomile, and lemon balm tea, catnip, and St. John’s Wort. If you can’t get enough calcium and magnesium through diet alone, add one daily capsule that contains at least 1,000 mg. of calcium.
7. Meditate. According to Jones, studies show that people who meditate on a regular basis live longer, sleep better, and are less depressed. “Begin your mornings and end your days in quiet prayer and meditation,” said Jones, who has been meditating for 40 years.
8. Help others. Find ways to serve people. “This always changes the vibrational rate in your body because you are focusing on positive gratitude, which is a dynamic energy and powerful healer for the body,” said Jones.
9. Get adequate sleep. There is nothing more restorative for the body than getting “good” sleep every night. That means seven to eight hours a night. Restful slumber helps banish depression, curbs junk food cravings, eliminates extra amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, and burns calories. The right amount of sleep is nonnegotiable in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
10. Exercise. It’s no secret that our bodies need to move to stay fit. When it comes to exercise, don’t let your excuses get in the way. Develop a well-rounded fitness routine that includes cardio such as brisk walking, and strength training with yoga or Pilates. New to exercise? Make an agreement to remain active for at least 20 minutes a day for 21 days. However, there is a catch, if you miss a day, you must start back at one and proceed again. “It takes 21 days for the mind and body to start or break a habit,” Jones said. “Most people can commit to three weeks of exercise.”
Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D., has made wellness her life’s mission. A long-time instructor at UCLA, she is the author of more than 26 books and 2,000 articles on health. To learn more about the herbs and supplements mentioned in this article, where to order them, and for more tips on optimal health, visit susansmithjones.com.
Susan’s New Year Smoothie to Detox and Rejuvenate
Dried Plum and Apple Green Smoothie
This is a healthy and refreshing midmorning or afternoon pick-me-up guaranteed to keep you in the flow throughout the year and to help you detoxify and rejuvenate your miraculous body. Blend and enjoy. Serves 1-2.
- 1 cup vanilla yogurt (dairy or nondairy if you are a vegan)
- 8 dried plums, pitted
- 4 leaves of romaine lettuce
- 1 kiwi, peeled
- 1/2 banana (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 cup frozen apple-juice concentrate (you can also find it bottled and unfrozen)
- 1 tsp. (3,000 mg) Hawaiian Spirulina
- 1/4 lemon, peeled (leave pithy part on)
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 leaves fresh mint
- 5-6 ice cubes