Renowned integrative doctor FRANK LIPMAN mixes traditional and new practices to help his patients improve their health. He shares with us his top three strategies for BOOSTING YOUR WELL-BEING.
What do you recommend for someone who exercises and eats pretty well but wants to boost her baseline health?
Start a meditation practice. Really? Yes, because most of us are stressed out. Meditation teaches us to relax the nervous system. It lowers blood pressure, improves focus, and helps us be less reactive to stress. Meditation can be somewhat intimidating, though. And it still feels a little woo-woo. That’s why it’s important to tell people that meditation is not about sitting on a cushion and chanting. It’s about improving the performance of the mind. Just as we exercise our bodies to perform better, meditation exercises our brains to train them to be more focused and sharper. Find what works best for you: breathing exercises, a mindfulness practice, a mantra-type practice, or yoga.
STAY IN SYNC
You’ve written a lot about tuning in to your body’s natural rhythms. Can you explain what those are?
We are all aware of the rhythm to our hearts and our breathing, but all of our organs have a tempo. The more you work with your innate rhythms, the better you feel. It’s like swimming with the current instead of against it.
How can you make sure you’re in sync?
The most important thing is to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day, including weekends.
And why is that essential?
The primary rhythm is sleep and wakefulness – keeping it stable means you’ll feel more energetic in the morning and less wired at night. People don’t take sleep seriously enough. There’s something called the glymphatic system, a housecleaning process in your brain that works only when you sleep. If you don’t rest properly, toxic substances build up. You can’t think clearly, and over time that can lead to all sorts of neurological problems, like Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep is crucial.
After sleep, what’s the best thing a woman can do to improve her health and stay in tune with her body?
Try to eat dinner earlier and breakfast later two or three days a week. It helps regulate insulin, metabolism, and weight. Our bodies are meant to have a cycle of feasting and fasting. Training them not to snack all the time is a good idea.
Interesting. So should we be moving away from the idea of eating six small meals a day?
Yes. I don’t agree with that at all anymore, though I used to suggest it. Now I’m more focused on trying to leave 14 to 16 hours between dinner and breakfast a couple of times a week. That strategy is really working for my patients. I do it myself, and I find it makes a big difference in my energy level and mood.
TEXT MIREL ZAMAN ILLUSTRATIONS DAMIEN CUYPERS