5 Nonnegotiables For Healthy Aging, From A Functional MD
There's plenty of advice out there designed to "prevent aging," when in reality, we all age. Rather than fearing the process, aging should be approached with health and longevity in mind. And it turns out, the path to get there is relatively simple.
During an Instagram Live conversation, mbg co-founder Jason Wachob asked Frank Lipman, M.D., functional medicine doctor and author of The New Rules of Aging Well, his nonnegotiables for better health. Despite the array of health advice out there, Lipman recommends these straightforward tips:
1. Moderate your sugar intake.
What he actually said was "Eat as little sugar as possible." Limited consumption of sugary treats is OK (according to the convo, Wachob is partial to the occasional doughnut himself), but limited is the key word here. The reason being, excess sugar consumption has been linked to Alzheimer's risks and increased inflammation in the gut.
"Sugar, especially added sugar in processed food, can also result in insulin resistance1," integrative internist Vincent Pedre, M.D., previously told mbg. Along with being another driver for Alzheimer's and dementia, insulin resistance leads to metabolic issues, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, Pedre explains.
While a combination of healthy lifestyle factors is important, keeping sugar intake in mind is one way to promote healthy aging.
2. Move your body.
Traditional workouts aren't necessarily necessary, but keeping the body moving throughout the day is, Lipman said. Whether it's dancing, walking, or picking up and playing with your kids, finding time to be active is critical for overall physical and mental health.
3. Get quality sleep.
The importance of getting quality sleep cannot be overemphasized, and Lipman assured us of that. Tracking sleep patterns, creating a nighttime routine, and taking a sleep-supporting supplement are just a few ways to promote a deeper rest each night.
4. Make time for meditative moments.
Keeping your mental health in check is critical for well-being. "You've got to do something for stress," Lipman said. "It may not be meditation, but it should be a meditative activity." For some, that means making coffee; for others it could be knitting, journaling, or playing music—this could also overlap with your exercise if movement is meditative to you.
5. Find a purpose and a passion.
If you're planning on living longer (i.e., promoting longevity), you may as well enjoy what you're doing each day, no? "Laugh more. Be kind more. Volunteer," he said. "Whatever it is, find something that's meaningful to you."
Relationships are a major part of that purpose, he adds. "Find a community you feel at home with," he urged. Hey—it's helped the people living in Blue Zones, and amid the pandemic, the value of social connection has become increasingly more clear.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.