10 health rules you should swear by now -- and forever

Frank Lipman, MD, New York City's most well-known integrative physician (and resident member of our Wellness Council), is known for prescribing "medicine" that doesn't necessarily come from a bottle, like recommending you should cut out sugar and chill out more with meditation.

Related: Your guide to Natural Sweeteners

His tell-all book, The New Health Rules, is a modern manifesto for living a healthy, cool life. And it's filled with nearly 100 simple ideas and tips.

"These rules work for everyone. This book is for you whether you're a meat-eater or a vegan, whether you're an athlete or are just now getting inspired to commit to an exercise routine," says Dr. Lipman. "It's about the whole self—body, mind, and spirit—and the habits and routines that make all three thrive."

Related: Is the 80/20 diet actually a diet?

The book is also an adorable size—about 5×7—so you can throw it in your handbag and flip it open on the subway, or while you're waiting for your smoothie at Liquiteria. Abiding these basic health rules feels like a pleasure, not towing the line.

Related: Why Splenda is worse for you than sugar

"You don't have to master all of the rules at once," he says. "Open to any page, anytime, and there's a step you can take toward feeling better. Change by change, you'll build a healthy lifestyle that sticks."

Click through to get Dr. Lipman's top ten new health habits from the book—and get the whole book, here:

10 health rules you should swear by now
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10 health rules you should swear by now

1. Break up with bread

Dr. Lipman is a big advocate of eating little to no gluten. So why cut it out? “Wheat is not your friend,” writes Dr. Lipman. “It’s addictive and an appetite stimulant, and the gluten it contains can make you sick.” Easier said than done, but Dr. Lipman swears that once you make it a priority to stop eating bread you’ll find plenty of yummy alternatives—and you can still have your favorite comfort foods.

2.  Do intervals! (AKA exercise like kids play)

Think about how you played outside as a kid. Were you running super fast while playing tag for five minutes and then slowing down for ten—then doing it all over again? That’s called interval training. And our bodies really like it.

“We’re built to chase down prey and then stop. To run from danger and then stop,” writes Dr. Lipman. “The long-held belief that we need to elevate the heart rate with 30 minutes of sustained activity is being replaced….” There’s lots of evidence that intervals burn more calories, too.

3. Don’t look at any screens one hour prior to bedtime

This is one of Dr. Lipman biggest secrets for a getting a good night’s sleep—no mindlessly flipping through Instagram, answering email, or even watching Netflix an hour before shuteye. In fact, he wants you to put the iPhones and laptops out of reach. “Tuck in your devices in another room to keep the eerie charging lights away from your sleep zone. If you can’t, use an eye mask,” he writes. It messes with your body’s production of melatonin.

4. Swear off sugar

If you can only make one change, “let it be a drastic reduction in the amount of sugar you eat,” writes Dr. Lipman, who 

 called sugar the “devil” in our 2015 Wellness Trends report. Why should you cut it out? Because it raises your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Oh, and gives you breakouts.

5. Learn this chill out yoga pose

If your to-do list resembles the Dead Sea Scrolls and your stress-o-meter is reading 100, then supta buddha konasana is for you. “It’s a heart-opening, lung-stretching, deeply restorative posture,” writes Dr. Lipman. And notice how it doesn’t really take much flexibility?

Put a bolster, or folded blankets, under your shoulder blades to support your knees, spine, and head, and you’ll feel a gentle release in your hips, chest, shoulders, and throat, he says. Hopefully your whirring mind will follow.

Yoga instructor directing a back stretch at yoga studio

6. Do something you love for at least 10 minutes a day

No matter how slammed at work you are or how demanding your responsibilities, spending just a few minutes a day on 

 something you love can have amazing benefits, says Dr. Lipman. “We all think we don’t have time, but most of us can find it somewhere…It doesn’t have to be a big deal: Shoot hoops in the driveway. Sketch something on the bus home. It’s incredibly powerful and healing,” he says.

7. Eat the yolk

Three decades in, it looks like egg whites will never go out of style. But that doesn’t mean the yellow stuff is bad for you. “Contrary to popular belief, the cholesterol in the food you eat has virtually no impact on the cholesterol level of your blood,” writes Dr. Lipman. “It’s sugar and carbs that trigger production of bad cholesterol in your body.” May we suggest cutting out the sugar from your latte, instead of the yolk from your morning avocado toast?

8. Consider clutter the junk food of your home

A healthy home doesn’t have magazine piles in every corner and clothing on every chair. “Clearing it out gets energy moving again,” writes Dr. Lipman. So, throw it out, donate it, and stop buying so much stuff, he says—and that doesn’t mean hide it all away in closets and drawers. Marie Kondo to the rescue.

9. Get 15 minutes of sunshine a day

Vitamin D is important and most people don’t get enough, explains Dr. Lipman. It’s especially hard for those of us who are at our desks all day, tied up in work. But taking a few minutes a day to walk outside is better than none. “Get out in the sun, arms and legs exposed (weather permitting) for 15 minutes every day, no sunscreen,” Dr. Lipman writes. “It’ll do wonders for your mood and energy level, too.”

Ohgaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan

10. Honor thy feet

We’re not saying book a pedicure—though that sounds lovely! Your feet are super important because “they’re the command center of the body,” says Dr. Lipman. He suggests rolling a tennis ball under the bottom of one foot, then the other, for five minute each. When you take off a pair of high heels he suggests “to stretch yourself back into shape; stand on a step with just the balls of your feet and let one heel lower down for a deep calf stretch.” Switch feet and do that for two minutes.


Originally posted January 6, 2015, updated March 17, 2016.

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