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10 Rules for Aging Well
With Frank Lipman, MD
Every second of every day, all of us are aging, and yet we often wait to address — or altogether avoid — age-related concerns about our health until we reach a certain point in our years or our capabilities begin to diminish. Frank Lipman, MD, shares 10 essential factors he’s outlined for aging well, emphasizing that it’s never too late — or too early — to start embracing them, and that it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Frank Lipman, MD is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative and functional medicine, as well as the founder and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. Lipman is a New York Times bestselling author whose books include The New Rules of Aging Well, How to Be Well, and Better Sleep, Better You.
Lipman’s recent book, The New Rules of Aging Well, covers 10 habits that are critical to healthy aging, which he also highlights in this conversation. They include the following:
1. Eat less. Lipman shares that most research on aging focuses on decreased caloric intake: As we shift from the phase of growth and production to maintenance, we don’t need as many calories to sustain us. This point ties to the next factor . . .
2. Try fasting. Extending non-eating periods can stimulate autophagy, which is the body’s way of cleaning out dead cells. Fasting overnight or choosing two instead of three meals a day, for example, is a way to automatically eat less and help improve this mechanism.
3. Support your gut health. Inflammation is one of the most common underlying issues with aging — and Lipman says that, for many of his clients, the most common sources of it are a damaged gut and altered microbiome.
4. Cut your sugar intake. Sugar is also pro-inflammatory and negatively effects your gut, in addition to having adverse effects on hormones. As we age, we also become less carbohydrate tolerant.
5. Prioritize sleep. What most people don’t realize, Lipman says, is that older adults still need as much — if not more — sleep as someone who’s younger. He emphasizes that sleep is not a passive state; one of the many activities taking place during shuteye is the glymphatic system clearing out waste from our brains.
6. Move as much as you can. Lipman encourages finding exercise “bites” as often as possible throughout your days, even if it’s just getting up periodically from your desk. He also speaks to the importance of strength training: This helps combat muscle loss that naturally comes with age and aids our ability to metabolize sugar. Further, exercise is the best way to increase BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a molecule that helps with neuron formation.
7. Mind your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a toxin. While the severity of its impacts are individualized, in general, people tend to drink more than is best for them. Lipman notes that you don’t have to forgo alcohol all together, but that it’s wise to moderate and be conscious of your habits.
8. Hydrate. As you age, your perception of thirst decreases, which can lead to being underhydrated. Among the far-reaching benefits of water, Lipman shares he didn’t realize how much of a positive effect being well hydrated had on his own blood-sugar levels until he started wearing a continuous glucose monitor.
9. Grow your circle of friends. Studies show that loneliness is damaging to ours brain, hearts, and other organs, in addition to our overall well-being. Lipman says he’s observed that the ordinary things we do daily can have an extraordinary effect on our health: Be kind to others, laugh, have gratitude, spend time in nature, play like a child.
10. Have a sense of humor. It’s normal for things to change as we get older, Lipman says, but getting upset about it doesn’t help. If we can laugh about it and accept it, it will make the journey easier.
- The New Rules of Aging Well by Dr. Frank Lipman
- @franklipmanmd on Instagram and Frank Lipman on Facebook
- Taking Care of Your Gut: Why It’s Critical for Health + How to Do it
- Fighting Inflammation
- Food Habits That Age You
- 8 Factors That Age Us Prematurely — and What We Can Do About Them
- Fit for Life: You’re Never Too Old to Get Moving
- Everything You Need to Know About Hydration
- This is Your Brain on Exercise
- Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You?
- The Sleep-Memory Connection
- The Blue Zones Habits for Longevity
- 23 Perfect Plates
- 10 Habits of Successful Vegetable Eaters
- 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life
- 7 Random Acts of Kindness
More Like This
Buettner joins us to talk about the Blue Zones — places around the globe with the highest populations of longest-living individuals — and the Power 9 healthy-lifestyle habits they have in common, plus ways we can begin to incorporate these behaviors in our own lives for increased longevity and vitality.
Transcript: 10 Rules for Aging Well
Season 17, Episode 17 | August 26, 2022
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Life Time Talks. I’m Jamie Martin, your host. And I have a different co-host today. My colleague David Freeman could not be here. So I have Renee Maine with us. Renee is a Senior Vice President at Life Time. And she is the co-founder of our Aurora Program, which is Life Time’s community supporting healthy living for older adults. On top of that, she also leads Life Time sustainability initiatives, which is kind of awesome. And Renee is just an awesome colleague to work with. So Renee, thanks for joining me for this episode.
Thanks. Great to be here.
And we are talking healthy aging today and really are excited about our guest. Dr. Frank Lipman is joining us. He is a pioneer and internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative and functional medicine, as well as the founder and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, one of the best known integrative medicine centers in the country.
Frank is a New York Times bestselling author who is dedicated to simplifying a whole systems approach to optimal health. His most recent books, The New Rules of Aging Well and How to be Well broke the mold of health books by offering a dynamic and user friendly guide to building better health one step at a time. They succeeded in reaching beyond the health book audience and into a broad general public, setting the stage for his 2021 book, Better Sleep, Better You. Dr. Lipman, thank you so much for joining us.
Thanks for having me.
Well, we’re going to kick off here, talking a little bit. You’ve been on the forefront in integrative and functional medicine for a really long time. And what I really love about functional medicine is how it gets to the root of health problems. It’s not about treating symptoms. It’s about figuring out what’s really at the core of illness or health issues that people are experiencing.
We’ve been working with you for a long time at Experience Life. I have an upcoming article with you based on The New Rules of Aging Well. And I want to just take a step back for a moment and talk a little bit about how you got here. How did this become your area of focus, talking about longevity, healthy aging, and all the factors that influence it?
Well, I got here because in terms of aging, I qualified as a physician in 1979 in South Africa. That’s 40-odd years ago. That’s where I first got exposed to alternative medicine. And long story short, it got me on this journey. I went to Chinese medicine and then functional medicine. And as I got older– I’m now 68 this next week– aging becomes more important, becomes more personal.
So I’ve started exploring ways of aging better. It’s really an extension of functional medicine. Functional medicine is about improving function and just helping the body function better in general. And sort of aging is really about a decrease in functioning of all the organ systems. So this focus on aging was really an extension of my interest in functional medicine.
And as I got older, that sort of got more important to me to age well. When you have grandchildren and you want your health span to increase, not just your life span, you get more serious about aging. So that’s how my interest started.
Well, I’m going to jump in because I can totally relate to that. So I’m in my 50s. I’m a grandmother. And what you said about as we get older, aging becomes more important. And that’s what happened with me at Life Time. I’d been with Life Time for over 11 years. And I had seen this opportunity to offer more to our older members and to help change the health of older members. And we simply weren’t doing a good job of that.
And so last October, I asked to take this on and switched careers to launch this program for Life Time. And one of the things I did was I started reading everything. And I read a ton of books. But your book I read twice because the first time I read it, I said, this is it. This book aligns to our philosophies of nutrition, and exercise, and sleep, and stress management, and all of that, along with some of the ways how.
But what you did differently that at that point, even in my life– and it changed my life. I lost 30 pounds by implementing some of your things as well. What you did differently was explained the why so well, like at the cellular level, at what it does to my body if I do or don’t do something, all of the different things that you went through, the 10 steps, and all of the color and information behind it.
I read it once, and I reached out to Jamie, and I said, do you know this person? We got to work with this person. And then I read it again. And then I started incorporating some of those philosophies in how we developed Aurora, which is our program for older adults. So I just want to thank you for that inspiration and for exactly what you said, the older we get, the more aging and being healthy becomes important to us. And that certainly was an inspiration to me.
Well, what a great story. I love that. Thank you.
Yeah, and because of that, I think one of the things– so you came to that aha wanting to continue and apply it in your own life and help others. I came to that aha. Why do you think it’s so hard for so many people to embrace that as we age, we may need to do things differently?
Well, it takes work. Things get a little bit harder as you get older. Things don’t come as easily. You can’t mess with your diet like you used to. You’ve got to stay exercising. If you want to stay sharp and you want to stay as functional as you were before, it just takes a little bit of extra work. And most people don’t want to put that extra work in.
It’s a reality that it does become harder, not that it’s– I believe, and the research bears this out– that it’s never too late to make changes. You can make changes in your 60s and your 70s, and you’ll still get results. That’s never too late. And it’s actually not as difficult as people think. But you do have to put the work in. That’s just the reality.
It’s not– you become a little bit more carbohydrate intolerant, so you can’t eat the extra bit of crap that you used to eat. You may not tolerate alcohol as well. So you’ve got to cut back down on that. You’ve got to pay more attention to your exercise, for instance. And you may not be able to exercise as hard or as long. Things change. You’ve got to adjust. So having an open mind and being able to adjust is really important. And I think people need to realize that it’s never too late, and it’s not that difficult. But you do have to put the work in.
And it’s worth it. It’s worth it.
Yeah, definitely. Thank you.
Absolutely. So you talked about functional medicine. You kind of defined how it starts. One of the things that I found so interesting over the years as we’ve covered various health ailments, especially those that are lifestyle related, is that when it comes to addressing them, it often comes down to things that we have some semblance of control over, some of these habits that we can take control of, moving our bodies, eating well, changing how we eat in some ways, connecting with community.
And we want to delve into the new rules that you outline in your book. We’re going to get to those. And we’ll have to kind of move quickly through those. But one thing that you talked about too, before we get to that, is this whole idea of that once we kind of shift into our 40s and 50s, there’s this transition from we’re being in this kind of production and growth phase of our life to maintenance. So I’d love to just delve into that a little bit. But then I also want to address why all of this is important for all of us, regardless of what age we’re at.
Yeah. I think the way I see it when I started researching, and what I always try to do is take a lot of information and try to simplify it for people and make it accessible to people. And what I realized is that I started seeing our lives as sort of divided into two phases, one of growing, getting stronger, having babies. And then the second part is maintaining what we have. You don’t have to grow anymore. You don’t have to get stronger. You just want to maintain what you have.
So it became very clear that if you see it that way, you start seeing things a little bit differently. When you exercise, you don’t necessarily have to get stronger and grow bigger muscles, although you don’t want to lose muscle mass, which is what happens as you get older. But you don’t have to get strong and grow anything.
And for women in particular, it’s probably more of an issue because women want to have babies, not always, but for the most part, until they’re about 40. Once they’ve had their babies, they need to learn to shift into a different way of being because it’s not about reproducing. It’s about maintaining what you have.
That’s a really interesting way to think about it. So you don’t have to keep going up. You just have to maintain. And I think that’s persistent in a lot of your chapters of your book, as far as how you implement that. So let’s move on to the book. So you really outlined kind of those 10 essentials for healthy aging.
And I’ll just start with the first two. One of them was just simply eat less. We need to eat less as we age and try that 16-hour fasting. And again, as I mentioned, those are two of the things that I put into place. Yeah, I’ve worked for Life Time for years. And I know that eating right is really important. And I’ve heard about intermittent fasting and all of that.
But I read your book, and I read the reasons behind it, and I implemented it. I cut down to two or three smaller meals a day with good food. And when I eat my dinner, that’s it. Kitchen’s closed. I think that was one of your– kitchen’s closed. I have that mentality now. And then I don’t eat again until about 9:30 or 10:00 the next morning. So talk a little bit about those two pieces or those two chapters, if you will, of the essentials and why it’s so important for people.
Well, eating less, the most research done on aging has been about decreased calorie intake. So when it comes to research on aging, that would be number one. You want to age well, eat less. I find fasting overnight, or just as you point out, cutting back from three meals to two meals, you automatically eat less.
But fasting or extending that period where you don’t eat has many other positive effects on the body. One of them is a stimulating this mechanism in your body called autophagy, which is a self-cleansing mechanism. And as we get older, the self-cleansing mechanism in the body, actually its function decreases.
Jamie, you’re talking about functional medicine, improving functions. So when the functioning of a key mechanism decreases as we get older, you look for ways to actually improve that mechanism. And one of the easiest ways to improve autophagy or the self-cleansing, getting rid of dead cells and old cells, is actually extending that period where you’re not eating. So that’s one way.
So to me, the intermittent fasting is an easy way. Fasting can be difficult. When people do a day or a week, that can be difficult. But just eating a little bit earlier in the evening and eating a little bit late in the morning, extending that period, actually isn’t that difficult for most people. And when you do that, not only do you get the effects of fasting and improved autophagy, but you also tend to eat less.
It’s one of those concepts. It’s like until you hear that, like, oh, that’s what’s happening when I don’t eat in that period. You’re giving your body time to do this essential work when you give your digestion a break, which is interesting. So I love that.
Yeah, what’s interesting about it, in Chinese medicine I always learned early in the days, my teachers Efrem Korngold and Harriet Beinfeld always used to say you need to give your digestion a good 12-hour rest overnight. That’s the Chinese medicine concept. But now we know from the science it goes way beyond that. It’s not just resting the digestion. Yes, that’s part of it. But it’s triggering these mechanisms in the body that are anti-aging or work on your longevity genes or promote healthy aging.
Well, speaking of still the connected to what we put in our bodies is gut health, obviously. And so let’s talk a little bit about why that matters so much. A significant portion of our immune system resides in the gut. Why does that matter?
Yeah, so the gut, to me, is I’ve been obsessed with the gut for many, many years because what I see clinically in my practice is a lot of issues often start in the gut. And that’s because even in Chinese medicine, it’s a central element. But most herbal traditions– I was taught by a famous herbalist many, many years ago that in most herbal traditions when you don’t know what to do, you treat the gut.
So I think a lot of medical systems have understood that the gut is central. But now we know, even in Western medicine, there’s this concept of the microbiome and damage to the lining and a leaky gut. And what we see a lot is when you have an altered microbiome, which happens very frequently in this day and age because of the way we eat and then the glyphosate that’s sprayed on so much of our food– there are many causes, but we don’t have to go into that.
But you get an altered microbiome, and you get a damaged lining of the gut, which is very thin, and you get a leaky gut. And that is often a major source of inflammation in the body. To me, that is the commonest source of inflammation that I see in the body. And inflammation is one of the common and most common underlying issues with aging.
So if you want to age well, you want to keep your inflammation down as much as possible. If you want to keep your inflammation down as much as possible, you want to optimize your gut function so you don’t have a leaky gut, so you don’t have an altered microbiome as much as possible.
So that’s why, to me, the gut is not only where most of your immune system is, not only is it the second brain because there are more neuro– as you guys know, there are more neurotransmitters there, made there, than in the brain. But most important, it’s a center of where inflammation often starts. And if you can keep that inflammation under control, the chances are you’re going to age better.
I heard this interesting thing once that made me think about my digestive system differently and how some people describe it as an external organ because of the exposure, because you eat and it’s the first place. And that was such an interesting thing for me to hear. It was like, oh, that makes so much sense.
Yeah, it’s your internal skin.
Same as we have this layer protecting us from the external world, we have this layer in our digestive tract, which is protecting us from the external world, everything we put in. And that layer is particularly thin for most of it, so it gets damaged quite easily.
Well, it’s interesting because you talk a lot about inflammation and what gut health, how that causes it and how inflammation is really underlying. I wrote, when I took notes the second time I read your book, I wrote inflammation equals root of all evil as we age. So that was a note that I took. And one thing that causes inflammation, it was your next point, which was getting serious about cutting sugar. So talk a little bit more about that. I know that is hard for many of us because it’s so prevalent in the things that many of us eat. So just we’d love to share more on that.
Sure. Sugar’s the devil. But I think it goes beyond sugar. Now I’ve become obsessed with– I’m wearing a continuous blood glucose monitor. I think this is the next level of health care, measurables, as you measure your sleep, you measure your blood glucose.
But anyway, sugar is pro-inflammatory. When we eat too much sugar, apart from all the hormonal effects that sugar causes, it actually affects your gut in a really negative way as well. It feeds the bad bacteria. It’s often one of the common causes of this altered microbiome, so eating too much sugar, eating too much processed food.
So now I see it as beyond sugar. I think sugar is really important. Don’t get me wrong. And as we get older, as I mentioned earlier, we become a little bit less carbohydrate tolerant. For instance, I can’t eat that many carbohydrates now. My sugar just goes crazy. So I think sugar is a problem on many levels. But probably the one we don’t think about enough is what it does inside the gut and how it feeds the bad bacteria.
Well, there’s so much more we could talk about food in general. But we’re going to kind of shift to another one of those lifestyle habits. We’ll actually share some notes and stories that we have that can help people understand the foods and the choices that we make that matter. I want to get to sleep because we know that sleep is so, so important. Your 2021 book, Better Sleep, Better You is all about this. And in many cases, we’ve heard sleep is more important than sometimes nutrition and even movement because of what happens. So can you talk to that?
Yes. So sleep is not a passive state. I also became obsessed with sleep. What happens when you start getting older, you start seeing what happens to your body with different things. So you learn about sugar and diet. And then you realize that most people used to– or I used to think, like most people, that as we get older, we don’t need as much sleep as someone who’s younger, which is actually nonsense.
So I then started getting a little bit more obsessed with sleep and exploring and researching sleep. And what most people don’t realize is not only do we need as much, if not more sleep as we get older, although we don’t think so, is sleep is not a passive state. There’s a lot happening in our bodies while we sleep.
And one of the classic things that happens when we sleep is it’s clearing. We talked about autophagy. But there’s this clearing mechanism in the brain. There’s something called the glymphatic system, which clears out all the metabolites that get created during the day. And it clears it out at night. And if you don’t sleep, this glymphatic system doesn’t get the chance to clear out all that junk at night.
It’s the metaphor I always use is if you have a party, and the next morning there’s a mess there, and you don’t clean up the mess, and you have a party the next night, and the mess keeps building up. And that’s what happens in your brain with all this junk if you don’t sleep because you don’t give your body the chance to clean up the mess
So I think that usually scares people enough to take sleep a little bit more seriously because when we start losing cognitive function, and we start losing it. And I used to notice that with myself, if I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t as clear and sharp during the day. I used to get two nights of not sleeping well, I’d start getting the sniffles. So I started taking it a little bit more seriously. Once again, it was a selfish experiment. I started exploring sleep more selfishly.
But once you start reading the research and exploring it, you realize how important sleep is to the functioning of your body. It’s not a passive state. There’s a lot happening while we sleep. And we do need to take it more seriously. It’s just one of– I always used to think that I didn’t;t need as much sleep because I’d still wake up in the morning and I was fine. And well, anyway, you can go into sleep in a big way. But yeah, I think the important piece to remember is a lot of mechanisms, important mechanisms, in your body are occurring while you sleep.
As a quick follow up to that, I just want to tag on, I know your whole book is about this. We know that sleep habits matter, going to bed, how we go to bed, how we wake up, all of those pieces. If there was one thing– and I know it’s individualized– but what’s one thing you would suggest people do if they’re really struggling to get to sleep, where to start?
Well, I think you start realizing that sleep is a body rhythm. It’s a key body rhythm. You have your daylight and your awake time and your sleep time, as it is light and dark. So it’s very important to have the room as dark as possible. But one of the most important tips I give people to sleep better is to get outside first thing in the morning and get some natural light because you want to try to sink your body into the natural light during the day and darkness at night.
And too many of us are under artificial lights during the day. So if you can get outside the first thing in the morning and get some natural light– and I know you guys are in these cold areas during the winter– but just sit at the window even. But getting some natural light first thing in the morning is one of the best things you can do.
And once again, think of sleep as a rhythm. And you want your body to get into that rhythm, so going to sleep and waking up at about the same time every day is also important. Don’t think you can catch up on sleep on the weekends, which I used to often do. So that’s not a good thing because you want your body to get into this rhythmic, to get in sync with this day night concept. So thinking of sleep as this important body rhythm, I think that would be a healthy way of seeing sleep.
Yeah, as somebody with two dogs, I think that really helps getting out first thing in the morning, regardless of how cold it is. Another part of your book, which obviously is near and dear to Life Time’s heart, is getting active, getting active and being active every day, not just working out, but I think you put it as be one of those people that’s always moving. And you have a lot in the book about that. So just share a little bit with the audience about what you mean and why it’s so important.
You guys do a lot of movement, which is great. I actually learned a lot from Experience Life on movement, to be quite honest, because that was an area that– I exercise, but not as much as I should. And I’m exercising more. But I think, for most people, or for some people, not to see it as exercise, but see it as moving your body. Exercise sometimes scares a little bit, scares people.
So I think you want to move your body as much as possible. Even if you’re sitting at a desk, get up and move. It’s about moving, moving, moving, finding these little exercise bites. You guys have written so much and so well about it, in fact, I take a lot of your movement blogs and put them up on my blog.
I know. We love that.
I think you do a fantastic job because exercise is so important. So I think just remembering to move your body as much as possible. And I think also as we get older, and something that I just really got into as I’ve got older, is some strength training. And I used to think because I rode my bike and I did some yoga that I was fine with exercise. But an important aspect of aging is we start losing muscle mass. And that’s really, really a problem.
Once you start losing muscle mass and you can’t function as well, you become a little bit more disabled. And it’s normal to start losing muscle mass as you get older. So doing some strength training becomes more important as you get older. And so thank you, Experience Life, for really pushing me to start doing some strength training.
But I think strength training is important not only for that reason, because as we get older, we lose muscle mass and there’s this aspect of disability, but it’s important to realize that muscle is a metabolic organ. And it helps with sugar metabolism. So as we get older, we don’t metabolize carbohydrates as well. So having more muscle and improving that organ which can help with sugar metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism is important as well. So strength training is really important as you get older.
Can we build on that, just kind of another bodily thing, something that’s happening physiologically within us? You talk a lot about BDNF, brain derived neurotrophic factor, and why that matters. Can you just touch on that and what that is?
Sure brain derived neurotrophic factor is a molecule that actually helps us with our neuron formation. And actually, exercise is the best way to increase BDNF. And now that we do genetic testing, you can actually tell if you have genetic variants which make you need more BDNF than the next person. So there are now genetic tests which actually can tell you if BDNF is a bigger issue for you than the next person.
But exercise is probably the most important way to increase BDNF. So if you don’t want to start losing cognitive function, if you don’t want to slowly go down that Alzheimer’s route, exercising is probably one of the best things you can do for that end. And once we’re at BDNF, let’s just talk about another aspect of the importance of exercise and Alzheimer’s.
There’s another gene variant called APOE, which I’m sure you’ve written about as well. There’s a variant, the APOE3/4, which 25% of people have– I have it– which predisposes you to Alzheimer’s. And just by exercising alone, you decrease your chances of getting it by 50%. So exercise not only will affect your APOE gene, which is actually a cholesterol carrier, but will affect the BDNF as well. So exercise , is probably one of the best things you can do for your brain and cognitive function. So if you want your brain to work better, you want to exercise more.
So the next two in your essentials are tied to what we imbibe. The first one is mind your alcohol, which is one thing. And then the other is hydrate, so it’s kind of what we’re drinking. Can you talk just a little bit briefly on each of those?
Well, alcohol I’ve always thought was a toxin. And there’s more and more research coming out that it’s harmful. People just drink too much. Now, I’m not saying you can’t have a glass of wine now and then, you can’t have two, three, four glasses, five glasses. It depends. Everyone’s a little bit different.
But most people drink too much. And I see that as a problem because when I get them to stop drinking for a while, they tend to feel so much better. And their biomarkers get better when we do their bloods. So I think alcohol is a huge issue for a lot of people. And it’s just part of the culture.
Dehydration is so much more of an issue than I ever, ever believed until I started putting my CGM on, my continuous blood glucose monitor. Now granted, the CGM is measuring the blood in the interstitial fluid. But my blood sugar tended to be high until I started drinking more water. I used to snore a little bit until I started drinking more water.
So there are tangible effects of– people say, well, I think I drink enough. And it’s very hard. Unless you’re really dehydrated, you may feel tired, and you may look wilted. But there are tangible effects that you can pick up from being dehydrated. And a lot of people, especially as we get older, tend to get dehydrated because as we get older, our perception of thirst decreases.
So I think dehydration is important. A lot of people actually are thirsty. When they think they’re hungry, they’re really thirsty. So that’s one of the tips I always give to people. When you think you’re hungry, just have some water and see what happens. So I do think, and once again, these are a lot of lifestyle habits that I learned as I got older that I didn’t really take that seriously, whether it was dehydration, sleeping, exercise.
It’s very interesting. I’ve been this holistic doctor for so long, and it’s only as I got older that I started realizing how important it was. So don’t wait till that happens. Now, one of the biggest tips I give for snoring– there are many causes of snoring– is drink more. You just may be dehydrated.
Well, all of this is so interesting. And we’ve talked about sleeping and nutrition and exercise and water, but not alcohol. But switching gears here, another piece of it is kind of growing your tribe or growing your friend group. And when I’ve been researching as well that having social activity is almost as important–
–if not more than some of those other aspects. So talk about that. Talk about the social end of it.
Well, loneliness, every week there’s another study on what loneliness causes to your brain, to your body, your heart, to every organ. So loneliness, there’s no question is a major issue. And having community, whether it’s family, friends, or whatever is really important. That most cultures have always known.
But I think we can go beyond that. I think everyone sort of knows that community is important. Loneliness is a problem. But what I’ve always said, which I honestly think is also more important as we get older, is what I say. It’s the ordinary things we do on a daily basis have an extraordinary effect on our health, being kind to others, having gratitude, spending some time in nature.
These little things that we take for granted– I see it with myself, and I see it with others– become more important as we get older. I think they’re always important. But as we get older, these little ordinary daily activities are really essential for aging well, just laughing, playing like a child. I was spending a lot of time with my grandson. I get more out of– I can I’d rather eat crap and spend time with him than have this pristine diet and not spend time with him. Stupid example, but you get the point.
I think being around people you love, playing, spending time in nature, and really, I think being kind, being kind to others, being kind to yourself, and being kind to the Earth are really, really important issues that no one talks– or not no one, but people don’t talk enough about. And to me, those are as important to aging as eating well, exercising, and sleeping.
Well, it comes back to holistic health. It’s all these things. It’s this web of things. You pull one, and it affects the other. And all of these things are intertwined and cannot be separated, which is why it can feel hard, but also when you know that if you change one of those things for the better, it can also make other things easier. And how do we get out in this world and experience that sense of awe? How do we connect with one another, have kindness?
One of our most popular stories ever for Experience Life was a story we did on kindness. It was a beautiful story, but it was just about how do we be kinder to each other and why it matters. And that made my heart happy when that happened.
I think, you see, these are the things we don’t realize are important. And to me, they are as important, if not more important, than those lifestyle changes we sort of know about.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, you touched on what your last factor is with this. It’s have a sense of humor about aging, which I love, the importance of laughter and maybe not stressing about it too much?
Yeah, you’ve got to laugh about it because things happen as you get older. It’s just normal. And you get upset about it, it’s not going to help. So definitely laughing about it and accepting it makes it much easier. Yeah, a sense of humor is really important. Being able to laugh at yourself, actually even more important than generally having a sense of humor. Just you can’t take it too seriously, and you can’t get down on yourself. Things will change as you get older. And it’s better to laugh about it than freak out about it.
Agreed. I love that.
Yeah, you said this earlier at the beginning of this podcast, but I just want you to, again, reinforce that it’s never too late. What I’m hearing is it’s not too late. I have two aging parents, and it’s like an A/B test, one, dad, that’s active and eats right and social and my mother, who same age, doesn’t do any of those things. But yet, she started working on this in her mid 70s. And she is starting to see progress towards an improved quality of life. So just share a little more. I know you have countless clients and patients that you work with on this.
The research shows it as well. And I’ve just seen this over and over again, it’s never too late to start making changes. I’ve seen, as you point out, your folks in their 70s, I’ve seen patients in their 70s start making changes. And it’s unbelievable what happens. So that’s the great news, that it’s never too late and you’ll start seeing the effects. Obviously, you want to start making changes, the earlier the better. But it’s never too late.
Well, I have a broader health question for you. And you’ve alluded to a couple of things already. So looking ahead to the future of medicine– you’ve been in functional medicine. You’ve been practicing a long time functional medicine and integrative. Where do you see medicine going? You’ve mentioned your continuous glucose monitor. You mentioned some genetic variations and things like that. Are those part of it? Or where do you see the future of medicine? And how does longevity play into that?
Yeah, to me, this is the future of medicine, taking the functional medicine model, overlaying that with this genetic testing where we get someone’s blueprint so you can personalize it to a certain extent, and then adding on these wearables so you can measure from second to second how your blood sugar is, how you’re sleeping.
There’s more and more technology that we can now measure. And this is something you can do by yourself. So I think the future is we’re combining the information we get from wearables with the biomarkers that we test normally with functional medicine plus someone’s genetic blueprint. And I’m excited to be– I’m part of a startup. I’m luckily being asked to be the chief medical officer for this amazing startup. Maybe that’s who you should have on next time, the CEO.
It’s called Hearty. The website is JoinHearty.com, where they’re actually doing this. And it’s all done in the comfort of your own home. At the moment it’s just New York and California. But they’re going to expand it. But it’s fascinating. It’s given me a whole new lease on life because
I had no idea until I put this continuous glucose monitor on– I knew I was sensitive to sugar in my blood. I became pre-diabetic years ago, but I maintained it, and I washed my sugar lever. But I had no idea when I was eating certain foods what it did to me. So now you can get empowered to really choose the right foods for you. You wear a sleep– something that measures your sleep.
You can see how alcohol– this is what I’ve done with so many patients. I’ll get them to get an Oura Ring, and they see what alcohol does to their sleep. So it’s extremely empowering when you can see changes in real time for yourself. You don’t have to go to a doctor’s visit. You don’t have to do blood. You can see if you eat drink alcohol what it does to your sleep. You can see if you exercise what it does to your sleep, if you eat certain foods what it does to your blood sugar.
So I think we entering into a very, very exciting time in medicine, where we’re taking the functional medicine model, where we’re still looking for the underlying issue, and we get someone’s blueprint with their genetics, and then they can measure certain health markers in real time. That’s pretty amazing. I think it’s a whole blossoming of a new era of medicine.
And yeah, this is right up Experience Life. This is what you guys talk about. So yeah, to me, it’s a no brainer. This is the future. Look, it’s still in its infancy. But people are getting there. And this Hearty, this guy’s created an app where all this information is in one place.
So you have all your genetics, all your bloods, all your wearable information in one app, and you have people looking at this information from at the back end. And you can see if your HRV, your heart rate variability decreases. You can call up, email someone to say, hi, what have you been doing that your HRV has dropped? Or what have you been doing that you’re not sleeping? So I think we’re entering into a really exciting time in medicine.
Well, what I’m hearing is it’s individualized medicine to it’s personalized. It’s about you and not as part of this bigger theory.
Exactly. You see exactly what works for you. I have a patient now, and he can’t believe how much the CGM has helped him because he would eat these foods, had no idea that they’re affecting his blood. He’s changed his diet. He was so resistant to changing his diet because he said, no, no, no, this is fine, until he started wearing this. And now he’s obsessed he wants to invest in CGM companies.
So there are 4 billion people in this world that are pre-diabetic. We can change the world. So I think we’re entering into a really interesting time in medicine, because as you point out, it’s really individualized. And that’s what we’ve been talking about for so many years.
So individualized and personalized, which I love. I’m a data person at heart, which is why your book really spoke to me because it gave me the why and the data. We just want to make sure we leave you with a few minutes for any final thoughts that you have for our viewers or listeners that we didn’t cover before we sign off today.
Well, I think we covered most of it. I think the big things for people to realize is it’s never too late. It’s not that difficult. But you do have to make some changes. You do have to accept that as you get older, things change, but you adjust. And remember to be able to laugh at yourself and laugh about it and be kind. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. But being kind to yourself and others is probably one of the most important ways we can end off this talk.
I love that, a little bit of self-compassion and compassion for others too. Well, Dr. Lipman, thank you so much for coming on. I just want to point our listeners and viewers, if they want to follow your work, they can find you at DrFrankLipman.com, as well as all across social media. They just need to search for you. We’re going to link to all of those in our show notes, along with some of the articles you’ve contributed to Experience Life. We’ll also link over to your blog. So thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to spend some time with us. This has been awesome. We’re so grateful.
Thank you guys.
We appreciate it. And I love, love, love your magazine. I love what you’re doing. It’s by far, by far the best magazine on health it is. So thank you.
Thank you for that. And we will continue to work together. Thank you so much.
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