How small changes in your diet can result in really big health payoffs

8 smart tips for better nutrition, from LA-based expert Susan Smith Jones

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Putting an emphasis on our health and wellness is key, but completely changing the way we eat can be overwhelming at times.

For National Nutrition Month, Susan Smith Jones, PhD — a holistic nutritionist and the author of "Wired for High-Level Wellness" — offered tips in an interview with Fox News Digital for making small but important eating changes to benefit overall health.

The Los Angeles-based health expert stressed the need to take care of our bodies and rein in bad habits that could cause health complications down the road.

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"Our gift back to God should be to take really good care of our body," she said. "It was not designed to be sedentary and to eat a lot of junk foods."

Here are a few small substitutions for the biggest nutritional payoff.

1. Ditch the soda — go for purified water instead

There’s nothing worse than highly acidic, sugary sodas that dehydrate your body. 

As an alternative, Jones suggested loading up a glass of purified water with an array of herbs, spices and lemon slices to cleanse the body and give the water some flavor. 

Add fresh herbs like sage and rosemary to your water to supercharge your brainpower. (iStock)

Add fresh herbs like sage and rosemary to your water to supercharge your brainpower. (iStock)

Adding a cinnamon stick will also give great taste while balancing out blood sugar levels and providing an immunity boost. 

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You can also add fresh herbs like sage and rosemary, she said, to boost brainpower. Throwing in some cilantro can help bring down inflammation and help with high blood pressure and low iron.

Adding in a little basil, too, will also boost immunity, aid digestion, protect the liver and prevent against cancer. Slices of raw ginger and turmeric bring a kick to your water mix, said Jones. 

Include one or two of these additions — or pile them all in at once for powerful hydration. 

2. Replace coffee with ginger and turmeric tea

The habit might be tough for coffee drinkers to kick, but steeping tea with ginger and turmeric as a replacement is a recipe for max-hydration and immunity.

Health expert Susan Smith Jones, PhD, holds a plate of sprouts grown in her kitchen, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (Fox News Digital)

Health expert Susan Smith Jones, PhD, holds a plate of sprouts grown in her kitchen, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (Fox News Digital)

Throw three to four slices of raw ginger and turmeric into a teapot, bring the water to a boil and simmer for five to 10 minutes until the golden-colored tea is ready to drink. Feel free to toss in some lemon or other spices to your liking, too, as well as a green tea bag for caffeine.

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"There are over 3,000 studies on the healing benefits of just ginger and turmeric," Jones said. "And it’s much less expensive than buying lots of tea bags."

Drinking hot beverages, especially tea, can also aid digestion. 

3. For a sweet treat, eat raw fruit — not candy

Jones stressed how important it is to steer clear of processed sugar.

"Cancer feeds on sugar," she said. "It wreaks havoc in your body."

Holistic nutritionist Susan Jones suggests staying away from processed sugar. A much better choice is fresh fruit. (iStock)

Holistic nutritionist Susan Jones suggests staying away from processed sugar. A much better choice is fresh fruit. (iStock)

The best alternative to munching on a chocolate bar is snacking on sweet fruits such as high-antioxidant grapes, which are great for your skin (and for an energy boost, too). Throw some grapes of your choosing in the freezer for a frozen snack on a hot day.

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For on-the-go snacking, bananas are an easy option; or, collect a variety of fruits such as brain-boosting blueberries, orange slices and vitamin C-rich strawberries in a freezer bag for road trips.

4. Never go out to dinner famished

When you’re out to eat with friends, family or coworkers, there’s almost always pressure to indulge in foods you know you shouldn't eat. 

The first rule of thumb is to never show up for dinner famished. You'll avoid snacking on bread or over-ordering from the menu if you're not starving when you arrive.  

Jones advised drinking a glass of water with lemon once you get to the table, to fill your stomach a bit more.

"You never want to overeat."

— Susan Smith Jones, nutritionist, to Fox News Digital

Sequencing how you eat at a restaurant makes all the difference. 

For example, incorporating fiber into your meal will help you feel fuller, so try ordering a vegetable soup as an appetizer before you attack the pizza or pasta at an Italian restaurant.

5. Add a little avocado

Next time you sit down at a Mexican restaurant, tell your server to hold the chips but bring the guacamole.

Avocados have the highest level of protein, vitamin E, folic acid, potassium and fiber out of all fruits. (iStock)

Avocados have the highest level of protein, vitamin E, folic acid, potassium and fiber out of all fruits. (iStock)

Avocados have the highest level of protein, vitamin E, folic acid, potassium and fiber out of all fruits — while having just one-quarter of the fat calories as butter.

Mixing up fresh guacamole makes for a great butter substitution. Try it on toast, a baked potato, or as salad dressing.

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A little-known fact about avocados is that they're also an aphrodisiac and can help boost libido.

"And you thought it was the margarita that got you in the mood," Jones said. "But it was probably the guacamole."

6. Color your smoothies green

Fruit smoothies are already a great option, but adding a little more oomph to the blender will give you an extra nutritional boost.

Sprouts are a great start, since most kinds such as radish and alfalfa sprouts have high nutritional value and can be grown from seeds right in your own kitchen.

Greens like spinach, kale and romaine lettuce add more protein to your smoothie. (iStock)

Greens like spinach, kale and romaine lettuce add more protein to your smoothie. (iStock)

Broccoli sprouts have even more health benefits than an actual head of broccoli. 

Consuming one and a half cups per day has the power to reduce the risk of cancer by 50%, according to Jones.

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She explained that greens like spinach, kale and romaine lettuce will add more protein to your smoothie, since these super greens have more protein ounce for ounce than meat and milk.

Toss in flax or chia seeds as well for some more fiber; add almonds for vitamin E and more protein. 

7. Graze on light meals throughout the day

Load up on a light salad filled with colorful vegetables, sprouts and beans throughout your day instead of filling up on two large meals a day.

Your body can handle only so many calories per meals — a lot of that will be deposited as fat — and big portions can tax your digestive system. Meanwhile, grazing on four or five smaller meals a day will help stoke your metabolism and lower cholesterol.

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"It makes you feel like you’re in more control of what you’re eating because you never want to overeat," Jones said.

8. Sub out that salt and sugar

It’s hard not to want to add a little more flavor to a meal, but that doesn’t mean you have to reach reflexively for salt and sugar.

"Cancer feeds on sugar. It wreaks havoc in your body."

— Susan Smith Jones to Fox News Digital

Instead of salt, try vegetable alternatives such as celery, onion, or garlic powder. Fresh cracked pepper or lemon pepper will add a little zing, too. 

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Sub out sugar with pure maple syrup, maple syrup crystals or date crystals for a bit of sweet. 

Cacao powder and nibs, the purest form of chocolate, are a great alternative for chocolate, whether used in baking or as a sweetener.