Q&A is our exclusive interview series where we chat with experts, activists and leaders we love! We’re kicking things off with health maestro, Dr. Frank Lipman.
A surefire way to get me to notice a book? Title it, The New Rules Of Aging Well. (Well-played, Dr. Lipman.)
Dr. Frank Lipman is a leader in the field of integrative and functional medicine. He’s written bestsellers on healthy living, so when he shares his advice on aging well, I’m listening… er, reading.
The New Rules Of Aging Well is compact and straightforward with beautiful pictures and inspiring examples of Dr. Lipman’s own patients who turned their lifestyle—and most importantly, lives—around.
It’s the perfect guidebook to kick off the new year because Dr. Lipman’s advice is incredibly doable. There’s nothing extreme and that simplicity is what makes The New Rules of Aging Well so accessible and appealing.
(Because I am a little extreme, I’m ready to do every single thing he tells me to! But as Dr. Lipman explains, even one small change can improve our wellbeing.)
Maggie Q has been a patient and friend of Dr. Lipman’s for years, so he graciously agreed to answer our questions on aging, lifespan vs. health span, and why a good laugh may be the best medicine for aging.
The New Rules For Aging Well is the manual we all need for a vibrant life in 2021 and beyond.
Q&A: Dr. Frank Lipman
In your book, you mention how until our 40s, our bodies are still producing and growing—and then we switch over to maintaining. Can you explain this more?
In our 20s and 30s, it’s about getting stronger, growing and reproducing, having children. Around our 40s is when things start shifting a bit. It’s no longer about growing stronger, so we need to do things a bit differently.
Those things that everyone says are inevitable parts of aging—the menopausal belly fat, lower energy—they don’t have to be. You see in the examples of my patients in the book that these changes not only aren’t inevitable, they’re even reversible.
How much of longevity and aging well has to do with genes versus lifestyle?
It’s mainly lifestyle. There’s some genetic component, but I’ve seen people with good genes age terribly because of their lifestyle choices. I think genes are a minor part, maximum 30%.
Is it too late by our 40s and 50s to age well?
It’s never too late to make changes. Most of us abuse ourselves in our 20s and 30s. We’re young, we party all night, drink too much. And then by our 40s and 50s, we really start seeing and feeling the effects of all that abuse. But you can reverse the damage.
The research shows that even if you make changes in your 50s, 60s or 70s, you can increase lifespan. In my practice, I’ve seen so many people who, after three to four months, make nice shifts.
Think of it like a spectrum. There’s a huge gray area of that spectrum where we all are. You can always move and shift to the healthier gray. Even just quitting alcohol and doing nothing else. I’m an optimist about the changes that are possible.
What are the biggest factors in aging?
Many factors affect how we age, but big ones are lack of sleep, stress, not moving, loneliness.
Is it realistic to think we can live to 100 and our bodies and minds are high-functioning?
Absolutely! I think about it as increasing our health spans. The amount of time we’re healthy, as opposed to just a lifespan. I don’t want to be 100 if twenty years of that was spent sick and bedridden. That’s not worth it. It’s perfectly valid to live to 100 and remain vital, moving our bodies, enjoying our kids and grandkids.
Why does it seem like cancer is inevitable with aging? Will these lifestyle choices change that inevitability?
There’s genetics involved with cancer—weak detox pathways. But it’s really environment; the number of toxins in our environment are enormous. There are so many chemicals we’re exposed to, even in our food. I grew up in South Africa without all the shit in the environment. Your parents had a better start because there weren’t all these chemicals everywhere. Your generation and the following ones have to be much more aware of toxins and what they’re exposed to, of what’s going inside their bodies and how they live their lives.
Lifestyle changes, not exposing ourselves to chemicals (if we can help it), and using supplements to support health are all ways to stay as healthy as possible in our polluted environment.
Tell us the New Rules! What are the most effective lifestyle changes we can make to age well?
- Take sleep seriously. It’s when your body repairs and restores.
- Move your body as much as you can. Keep moving throughout the day, not just for an hour at the gym.
- Cut out sugar and starchy and processed foods.
- Be kind and have gratitude.
- Have a community you love, whether it’s family, church or synagogue. Loneliness has severe consequences on our lifespan.
I just had to get reading glasses, as did many of my friends. Is there anything we can do to make our eyes better?
Unfortunately, that’s a part of aging we just have to accept. I can’t read a word on those supplement bottles! But those things we can’t change, we just have to have a sense of humor about. We’re all aging, so it’s best to accept it and have a laugh.
Bonus! We’ll be giving away three signed copies of The New Rules Of Aging Well, so sign up for our newsletter (below) to be the first to know about our upcoming Giveaway!