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May 8, 2021, 6:21 p.m. EDT

New rules about eating, exercising and sleeping as you age

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Barbara Sadick

This article is reprinted by permission from  .

Aging is a natural process that involves direct damage to cells and an accumulation of cellular waste, says Dr. Frank Lipman. Our ability to repair this damage decreases over time, but the extent and speed of that decline varies — a lot.

Diet, activity, rest and stress all play a role in aging, Lipman says. And that’s good news because it means we have some control over the course of how we age.

Lipman is a medical doctor and practitioner of Western and Chinese medicine. He’s also the founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness in New York City, a treatment center that works with patients to get healthy and stay healthy. His book with co-author Danielle Claro, “The New Rules of Aging Well: A Simple Program for Immune Resilience, Strength and Vitality,” is a practical guide to strengthening your immune system and reversing the symptoms of aging.

I interviewed Lipman about the lifestyle strategies he recommends to guide people toward aging well and living well longer. Highlights:

Barbara Sadick: In your book, you say people come to you with aches and pains, exhausted and gaining weight. They assume these are symptoms of aging. Are they?

Dr. Frank Lipman:  Most of us have been programmed to believe that growing older is synonymous with getting tired, fat, slow, forgetful and having no interest in sex or the loss of the ability to perform. The real obstacle for most of us isn’t age. It’s loss of function.

Our bodies are perfectly capable of remaining healthy and vigorous and our brains can absolutely stay clear and sharp if we treat our bodies properly and [do] not abuse them.

You say it’s more important than ever to prioritize immunity and overall wellness. Would you elaborate on what you mean?

The immune system fights infection. How well your immune cells function is a direct response to how well you take care of yourself.

When you take good care of yourself, the immune system’s self-cleaning mechanism or autophagy kicks in. Autophagy is digestion of cellular waste by enzymes of the same cells. Those cells clean their own waste. When autophagy is working well, your body recovers faster and better.

As we’ve seen, people with co-morbidities (more than one disease or condition) have worse reactions to COVID-19 .

You write that our daily life choices affect our overall health. What are some of those lifestyle choices we should be aware of?

People need to be aware of things like what and when they eat, how they move their bodies, how they deal with stress, how they sleep, how kind they are to others and whether they hold on to resentments.

Food, you say, plays a major role in optimizing health. What kinds of foods should people eat as they age?

Research shows that to age well, we have to eat less and consume fewer calories.

Sugar is a major inflammatory [substance] and should be gradually cut out of your diet.

Eat dinner earlier and breakfast later and eat only within an 8- to 10-hour period of the day.

As much as you can, eat fresh, natural, real food that doesn’t come prepackaged and won’t go bad if not refrigerated. Move away from processed foods.

Eat non-starchy vegetables and other greens and stop eating when you feel 80% full. 

We are commonly told that we should eat three meals a day, with breakfast being the most important. Is this true?      

Contrary to popular wisdom, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day and can be skipped entirely. Try eating only two meals a day between late morning and early evening and then fast until the next day. That gives the body a rest from digesting. 

Cut down animal protein to once a day. If you like red meat, make sure it’s organic and grass-fed, but generally eat more plants than animals.

Drink lots of water, cut out sodas and juices and drink your coffee black if you can.

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