“This book is not meant to change you in a weekend.” That is how The New Health Rules by Integrative Doctor Frank Lipman and writer Danielle Claro begins. But, the truth is, it could. Why? Because it makes wellness feel easy, not overwhelming. It’s a quick read, that breaks down health and beauty information in short, easy bursts. Explains Claro about the inspiration for the project, “I realized that there is much more information than people could possibly wade through—and the fact is we all just really want to know what to do. We wanted to boil it all down so that people will want to flip the switch and make changes.”
Related: 10 Superfoods to Add to Your Diet
Flip to any page, and you will inspired to start integrating the little changes, that will add up to a healthier, happier, more glowing you. Whether it’s Dr. Lipman’s list of superfoods to include in your diet each week, his explanation of why the products you put on your body really matter, or his warning about the scary ingredients in so-called “natural” products—there’s a ton of helpful information. I spoke with Dr. Lipman to get his insight about what exactly what we can do to look more beautiful from the inside. Here’s his smart advice:
Sara Bliss: What foods and supplements should you take for beautiful skin?
Dr. Frank Lipman: For skin, it is not only about what you should take, but what you should avoid—sugar, processed foods, dairy and gluten. Instead, eat foods like avocados, vegetables, and fish like wild salmon. Also take fish oil every day. Often skin issues are related to the gut so take a probiotic supplement. Make sure you get a good amount of sleep and chill out. Learn to relax. It will help.
SB: Stress is really something that affects how you look, especially your skin. Are there are any supplements or foods that help with stress?
FL: The antidote for stress is meditation. It creates the exact opposite effects on the body as stress does. But if you are looking for a supplement, the one I recommend is L-Theanine, it is an amino acid that is strictly for calming.
SB: In your book you say that what you put on your body goes in your body, can you explain this?
FL: What you put on your skin is as important as what you eat and put into your body. Products absorb into the skin and the bloodstream, so if you are putting toxic chemicals onto your skin, they stay in your body for a long time. I am a big believer in using clean cosmetics. My motto is that you should be able to eat your cosmetics. I know that that’s unrealistic for women because a lot of the natural stuff doesn’t work as well, especially not on the face. Even my wife has the same struggle. So I recommend that you use what works on your face and take it off when you can. But on your body, I would only use clean cosmetics. That’s a good compromise.
SB: What skincare brands do you recommend?
SB: I know you are a big fan of coconut oil. What are all the benefits?
FL: There are so many reasons. It can moisturize skin and protect hair. It is great for cooking as it has a high smoke point. The Lauric acid in coconut oil can help kill bad bacteria viruses and fungi, while the fatty acids can reduce hunger. It can also increase energy.
Related: 7-Things Coconut Oil Can Do For You
SB: You discuss how “natural” toothpaste might not be that much better for you. What should we be aware of?
FL: This is important because you actually ingest bits of toothpaste. You have to watch for chemicals, whether it is cosmetics or toothpaste or your soap. I just don’t think it’s healthy to be exposed to so many chemicals and many of these “natural” toothpastes still contain dyes, artificial flavorings, and chemicals like propylene glycol, triclosan, and SLS. Check labels and switch to pure brands like Tom’s of Maine or Natural Dentist.
SB: So is your advice to really limit your chemical exposure with everything?
FL: Yes definitely. In the book, we want the reader to become more aware of chemicals everywhere. How we clean furniture at home, how we brush our teeth, what we put on our skin, the pesticides that they put on fruit and vegetables—there are so many chemicals used in everyday life that I think we should be aware of, and avoid when we can.
Dr. Frank Lipman
SB: In terms of what you put in your body, is coffee good or bad for you? I am always hearing conflicting advice.
FL: I don’t think it’s good or bad. For someone like me who doesn’t metabolize caffeine well, it is not good. If I have coffee, I get jittery, agitated and I get headaches. For many people though, it is not a problem. I’m not saying five or six cups of coffee is good for anyone, but a cup or two of coffee for many people is fine. But there are numbers that show that a fair percentage of people don’t metabolize caffeine well.
SB: Is there a good bread option for those of us who love it?
FL: I’m not fan of breads in general, but if you tolerate grains, then bread is not the end of the world. But as a general rule, I don’t encourage people eating bread. Even Ezekiel bread, although it is a little bit better because it has sprouted grains which are easier to digest. You’ve also got to be careful of the gluten-free breads because a lot of them are high glycemic and are not made with good grain. The only bread that I recommend now is bread made with almond flour or coconut flour—the Paleo breads.
SB: What about sugar?
FL: No compromises on sugar.
SB: What about coconut sugar or stevia?
FL: Stevia is better, but if you are going to get your sugar, you should get it from a little bit of fruit. Almost everyone has too much sugar in their diet. Coconut sugar is now being carted as healthier, but I’m wary of it. We’ve been down this path with agave before. To me, sugar is sugar, so I would try to limit it as much as possible.
SB: Should we be limiting our sugar intake from fruits?
FL: For some people, eating a lot of fruit can be healthy. What tends to happen however as you get older, is that you don’t metabolize the carbs or process insulin as well. I was eating a diet filled with fruits and whole grains and limiting my animal proteins and I became pre-diabetic. As you get older you become more resistant and you can’t tolerate as many carbs. Many people think that because they are eating so many fruits they are healthy, but it may not be because it turns into sugar. In general, unless you’re exercising a lot and you’re really young and healthy, it can be an issue. So that’s the catch.
Dr. Lipman’s new book, The New Health Rules
SB: What about calories, should you be counting them?
FL: I’m not a fan of calorie counting at all. It is the quality of the calories, and not the quantity. You could have a hundred calories from a cookie or from some kale and there is no comparison. The point should be to eat food as close to nature as possible, once we start altering the food, then it becomes a problem.
SB: Tequila, vodka or wine, what’s the better choice when it comes to alcohol?
FL: I would put wine at the bottom of the list and tequila at the top. Alcohol is full of sugar. I believe that the beneficial effects of alcohol aren’t from the alcohol itself, but from the social effects, sitting around the table drinking wine with friends and family and enjoying yourself.