5 nutritional pointers to take your health to a new level for 2023

40 cloves of garlic soup. 

40 cloves of garlic soup.

Becki O'Brien Yoo

Most of us have at least a basic understanding of healthy nutrition.

We generally know more than just apples=good, cookies=bad. We understand there's nuance with diet and lifestyle, and our collective knowledge has only continued to grow as fads have come and gone and food culture has revved up.

But it's a new year and a great moment to broaden our nutritional horizons — get some fresh perspectives, try some new things.

That's what I was thinking, at least, while recently browsing Ali Miller and Becki Yoo's website and work.

MORE FROM MARCI SHARIF: What's the Dalai Lama’s secret to happiness? Be kind

Miller is the author of the bestseller "The Anti-Anxiety Diet," as well as "The Anti-Anxiety Diet Cookbook," and "Naturally Nourished: Food-As-Medicine for Optimal Health." Yoo partnered with Miller several years ago after having opened two popular juice and smoothie bars in Houston and running a local farmers market.

Their focus on food as medicine involves pursuing natural solutions to health complications, digging into root causes and lasting solutions instead of quick fixes with medication, which they say, "may contribute to additional health issues by causing side effects."

Every time I look at their work (cataloged at alimillerRD.com ), I learn something new and discover a recipe, approach, or product to try. I have a backlog of their content on my desk.

So, I asked them for some of their favorite nutritional pointers for, ideally, a new level of health and vitality this year.

If you already have some level of balance in your diet, here are their five recommendations to kick things up another notch.

1. Skip the non-caloric sweeteners.

"Even those that claim to be 'natural' like Stevia and monkfruit are highly processed, chemically extracted, and can have an unfavorable metabolic impact, driving insulin resistance and weight gain," says Yoo. "Stick to real food sweeteners like raw, local honey, dark amber maple syrup, dates and bananas."

Yoo adds that using real food sweeteners (sparingly) can actually do a body good. They give us a boost of healthy stuff like B vitamins, electrolytes, prebiotic fiber and potassium.

2. Consume bone broth.

"We love bone broth for its ability to support gut lining integrity as well as support healthy hair, skin and nails. Bone broth is an immune supporting powerhouse, containing high levels of NAC or n-acetyl-cysteine to thin mucus and phlegm," says Yoo.

To make it at home: Simmer chicken or beef bones for 24-48 hours with onions, carrots, celery, and nearly any vegetable scraps like carrot tops, onion skins, etc. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to enhance the extraction of the minerals in the bones.

Yoo and Miller recommend FOND Bone Broth or Bonafide Provisions if you prefer to buy it instead. "Many companies now sell bone broth that is not slow simmered or made with quality ingredients. Always look for a broth that 'jiggles' when cold as a sign that it is true bone broth," Yoo says.

3. Incorporate garlic and onions as natural flu fighters.

Yoo says garlic and onions contain antimicrobial compounds that help fight the common cold, flu and other viruses. These are two of the main ingredients in a pair of recipes they recommend when you're feeling under the weather: 40 cloves of garlic soup and master tonic.

The master tonic recipe is on their website. The 40 cloves of garlic soup recipe is published here. They advise making it at the first sign of cold or flu. They promise it's worth the subsequent halitosis.

4. Pick your cooking oil with care.

Yoo suggests avoiding "highly processed oils like canola, soybean, corn, cottonseed, safflower, grapeseed, rice bran and sunflower oil." She adds that many products marketed as healthy tend to contain sunflower oil, so reading labels is always wise.

"These oils are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can promote inflammation, especially when they are oxidized or heated."

As an alternative, Yoo and Miller suggest using whole food fats like lard, tallow, coconut oil, butter or ghee, avocado oil and olive oil.

5. Make teatime your thing.

"Tea can dramatically reduce hunger by lowering levels of ghrelin (your hunger hormone), and green tea in particular, has been shown to reduce body fat as well as LDL cholesterol," Yoo says.

They suggest sipping tea between meals and/or enjoying it in the evening as a way to settle in and get over the urge to snack.

For more tips and recipes visit alimillerRD.com.

40 cloves of garlic soup

1 tablespoon ghee or avocado oil

½ yellow onion, diced

1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces

40 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon sea salt

6 cups chicken bone broth

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

For serving: lemon zest; toasted pine nuts; extra virgin olive oil; roasted cauliflower pieces (optional)

Instructions: Heat ghee in a large stockpot and add the onion. Stir to coat with the fat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until visible browning begins, about 3-5 minutes.

Add in the cauliflower pieces and stir to distribute evenly. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes, until cauliflower begins to brown.

Add in the garlic cloves, thyme and sea salt. Cook an additional 3-5 minutes until cloves begin to soften.

Add the bone broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 25-30 minutes, until all vegetables are tender.

Add in the lemon juice and zest. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a blender, working in batches if needed. Blend to a creamy consistency.

Pour into bowls and serve with additional lemon zest, toasted pine nuts, roasted cauliflower, and a drizzle of good-quality olive oil.

Serves 6

Marci Izard Sharif is an author, yoga teacher, meditation facilitator and mother. In Feeling Matters, she writes about self-love, sharing self-care tools, stories and resources to know and be kind to yourself.