Dr. Frank Lipman’s 6 Easy and Uplifting Rules for Aging Well
When it comes to aging, Dr. Frank Lipman wants us all to relax a little more. “You don’t have to be so harsh and hard,” says the functional medicine practitioner about the never-ending myriad of aggressive wellness hacks and products available. “Aging well is not about pushing and pushing and pushing. It’s actually the opposite. It’s about letting go and being comfortable with where things are while still trying to get healthier.”
Lipman outlines this ethos in his new book, The New Rules of Aging Well. A brilliant, easy-to-read resource filled with accessible tools for boosting immunity resilience (critical in these times) and optimizing longevity, the book is as much of a guidebook of ancient wisdom as it is a reminder that the ordinary, often-overlooked choices we make each day can have enormous effects on how we age. We recently caught up with Lipman to learn what these are, gleaning more of his heartening outlook on getting older in the process. “You need to be able to pull back and rest,” he says. “And be able to laugh about it, as well.”
#1: Eat well—and not as much.
As we get older, we don’t have to eat as much, says Lipman, who touts an overall moderation of daily caloric intake (generally after 45) in helping to increase longevity and mitochondrial function. If this sounds daunting, don’t worry: There are simple ways to practice restricted eating. Eat only nutrient-dense, organic and local produce and poultry, and limited amounts of pasture-raised meats. Consume less sugar, a substance Lipman calls “the devil.” And reduce your intake of animal protein. (Lipman also likes the Japanese practice of hara hachi bunme, which loosely means eating until you feel 80 percent full.)
#2: Rethink when you eat.
Fasting, abstaining from drink and food for a sustained period, is essential. But if you’re envisioning days of only lemon water, don’t fret. Simply eating dinner earlier—by 6 or 7pm—and breakfast later—around 11am—will give your body a longer time to efficiently metabolize food and turn down the mTOR longevity gene, which Lipman says is important to do as we get older. This simple means of fasting also helps us eat less, and it triggers autophagy, “your body’s internal cleansing mechanisms.”
#3: Celebrate movement.
By design, we humans are meant to be mobile, not sedentary. So to keep our bodies optimally working, we need to move as much as possible. But this does not necessarily mean heading to the gym every day, says Lipman. Rather, we need to keep up with basic movements that we take for granted, like getting up from a chair, taking the steps, and going from sitting on the floor to standing. Just like a well-designed machine, we need to use our bodies so they don’t break down.
#4: Value sleep.
“When it comes to sleep, people don’t take it seriously enough,” says Lipman. “They push themselves and work too hard.” Don’t push this critical element to the back burner. Quality, ample sleep is critical.
#5: Stress less.
This is a tough one, especially these days. “Everyone’s stress levels have shot through the roof,” says Lipman, who admits he’s even fallen prey to common American pitfalls including watching the non-stop news cycle. “It’s such an important time to realize that you’re going to age quicker with all the stress,” therefore it is important to manage it with things that are meditative. This can mean different things for different people: exercise, gardening, knitting, spending time with kids or grandchildren. “Whatever it is,” says Lipman, “find time to do that.”
#6: Honor the “intangibles.”
Things such as community, having meaning in life, volunteering, kindness, and being surrounded by those you love are instrumental in keeping us vital. “When I look at older patients and older friends of mine, the ones who have aged better and are doing well have meaning in their lives,” says Lipman. “They tend to be kind and they do things that make them feel good.” Because joy and meaning can’t be quantified, Lipman calls them “intangibles”—but their impact is felt. “Those aspects of life may even be more important than what we eat and how we move.”
Frank Lipman, MD, is a pioneer and internationally recognized expert in the fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine and a best-selling author. He is the founder and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center and Chief Medical Officer of The-Well, both in New York City. Dr. Lipman received his initial medical training in South Africa and emigrated to the United States in 1984. He became board certified in internal medicine after serving as Chief Medical Resident in his final year of residency at Lincoln Hospital in New York City. He is a best selling author of 6 books, including The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness; How To Be Well, The 6 keys to a Happy and Healthy Life; and his latest The New Rules of Aging Well: A Simple Program for Immune Resilience, Strength, and Vitality. To learn more visit drfranklipman.com.
This interview was featured in the February 21, 2021 edition of The Sunday Paper. It is solely intended to provide information and inspiration. This interview is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. The views are those of the expert. The Sunday Paper inspires hearts and minds to rise above the noise. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.