Health Experts

Jaclyn Smith

The TV icon, designer, and doting grandma stays strong—and cancer-free—with exercise and nutrition.

She inspired generations as one of ABC’s karate-chopping Charlie’s Angels in the 1970s, introduced affordable ladies’ fashions in the 1980s, and empowered women as a breast cancer survivor in the 2000s. But now, actress and entrepreneur Jaclyn Smith strikes a healthy balance in part by chasing after her cherubic granddaughter.

“That’s the joy. That’s sort of the departure that keeps me really in the moment,” Smith, a glowing 73, says of playing with baby Bea. “And I have so much fun. I do realize with two-year-olds you need to be in good shape—your knees, your back, everything—because they’re everywhere. There’s something exciting about it that makes me say, ‘Hey, I better work out because I’ve got to run after her.’ And I do. So she’s a plus.”

Bea is also the inspiration for Smith’s Kmart and Sears infant clothing line, Spencer—designed by Smith’s daughter, Spencer Margaret Richmond. And her multi-generational love extends even to Smith’s sanctuary: her bedroom. “I have my mother’s desk up there and Bea’s picture hanging above it. It is a place of calm. Everybody needs their own little place where people knock before entering. I think part of wellness is taking a little time for yourself.”

Healthy tip!

“Everybody needs their own place where people knock before entering. I think part of wellness is taking a little time for yourself.”

What steps have you taken to stay cancer-free?

I eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables, and organic meats. I exercise. They have said that when you do aerobic exercise at least three times a week, you cut down the incidence of breast cancer. Just getting older with each passing decade, your chances of getting breast cancer go up. But we know so much about it today that with early detection [you can be] cancer-free after treatment. I traveled for about three years with a foundation called Strength in Knowing, speaking to women about the risk factors, and many women are in denial or they’re not proactive. Or at a certain point they say, “You don’t need a mammogram.” Well, that’s silly. My mother got breast cancer at 90. She was thriving at 90. She did a lumpectomy. She didn’t do radiation. She was fine. She didn’t pass away from cancer. So I think that women should get their mammogram. I also believe in pap smears. Being proactive is key. And, again, it’s important to balance your life, and take a lot of the stress away.

What types of workouts help you keep up with your granddaughter?

I do circuit training with weights, and I do Pilates. Two years after my breast cancer diagnosis I went on Arimadex, which caused some bone loss—so weight-bearing exercise to build strong bones is very important, especially as you get older. Pilates really centers on your core, and a strong core protects your back. I’ve had a microdiscectomy in my back, so I realize the importance of a strong core. Planks are great core moves, but they’re boring and tedious, so I incorporate those in with the Pilates machine in a different way. I work out with a trainer, and she’s very creative with how she puts them in. She incorporates planks so that I might lift one arm, and then the other arm. My mind is occupied, and it isn’t like, okay, we’re just in this one position.

Which supplements and natural beauty products support your wellness?

Definitely vitamin D. It’s good for the bones. It prevents cancer and can help with depression. We think we get enough from being in the sun, but we’re covering ourselves in sunblock, so we really don’t get enough vitamin D. I also take vitamin C. There is controversy over too much calcium for women. I think it can affect the heart, but I take no more than 500 mg a day, and I don’t always do that. I think psyllium husk is good because it gives you fiber. I do a B complex. Green drinks are full of vitamins and are a lovely way to go, too. I try to do a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in water to control inflammation; it’s supposed to help with arthritis and acid reflux. Also, I believe in conditioning your hair and your body. Coconut oil is amazing. Grapeseed oil is incredible for the face. Both can be healing. They’re great on your legs, your feet, your hands, your hair—everywhere.