The 3 Best Healthy Aging Tips, According To Functional Medicine Doctor Frank Lipman
For a widely recognized trailblazer in functional and integrative medicine and a New York Times bestselling author of five books, Frank Lipman, M.D.'s philosophy on healthy aging is surprisingly simple.
"Basically, eat less, laugh more, deal with your stress, take sleep seriously. What else would be important?" he tells me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast.
We discuss everything from how to eat for anxiety to how to get optimal vitamin D levels to the specific blood tests you should ask for at your annual checkup, and Lipman provides expert advice that seamlessly combines the best of traditional Western medicine with age-old healing techniques from the East.
But what excites Lipman the most in this day and age, it turns out, is the concept of aging itself, namely, the ways we can prolong our health, not necessarily our lives.
"We should be aware of increasing our health span, not our life span," he tells me.
Below are Lipman's three tips on how to increase our health span. Not only are they incredibly simple and easy, but they're also absolutely free.
1. Move intentionally.
"As you get older, it's harder to recover when you injure yourself. So it's important to change the way you exercise according to your body," he says.
That said, working out can have an opposite effect on healthy aging if we're not exercising safely and properly. According to Lipman, the key to healthy aging lies in moving in an intentional way that pushes your body, but not so much that it causes an injury.
2. A little physical adversity is good for us.
"A little bit of stress is actually good for you," Lipman states, a lesson he actually learned from his Chinese medicine teacher.
This idea of a "little bit of stress" encompasses a wide range of physical adversity—spurts of high-intensity exercise, experiencing hot and cold temperatures, and fasting are all ways we can put our bodies under just a little bit of stress and stimulate longevity.
"They're stressing your body a little bit, enough to stimulate what some people are now calling these longevity genes." It's as if the physical adversity is teaching your body to better handle any big stressors (i.e., illnesses and environmental stressors) that may come your way.
That's not to say you should starve yourself or push yourself through a half-marathon with little training—to reap the longevity benefits of stress, Lipman believes a little truly goes a long way.
"I'm seeing incredible results with just telling people to skip breakfast," he adds.
So make sure you're not putting your body under too much stress, as we know that constant, chronic stress can be the foundation for many health-related issues. So if your body needs breakfast, eat breakfast!
3. Don't take life too seriously.
Lipman's final piece of advice (and, arguably, the most important) is to remember to enjoy life. In our world of biohacking and meticulous measuring, we can become so caught up in all of the numbers and blood tests and food restrictions that it may cause more harm than good.
"Biohacking is a very good, preventive thing. But then it can go a little too far, and you could become too stressed about it," Lipman says.
He even believes that stressing about nutrition and diet can actually have the opposite effect. Sometimes, the stress that comes with being neurotic about food can actually spark worse reactions in people than if they had just eaten the allergen itself.
"I think the stress of being neurotic and dogmatic about food is probably worse for you than eating a little bit."
Of course, some people have serious flare-ups with certain foods, so that's not to say you should ignore your allergies with a nonchalant, carefree attitude. But the concept of orthorexia and being neurotic about food isn't healthy, according to Lipman. That said, we should be aware of when we're going too far when it comes to our well-being.
So, if you're going to remember one piece of Lipman's valuable advice, let this be it: "Eat less and laugh more. You've got to have some humor about it, and you've got to loosen up."
There you have it—a little physical adversity, but don't take it too seriously. A wise—yet simple—sentiment from the famous Frank Lipman, himself. As the holidays are quickly approaching, you might want to make relaxation a priority this season. You can even tell your family members that taking the time to sit back and laugh was prescribed by a widely recognized functional medicine doctor.
And are you ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.