The word “diet” comes from the ancient Greek word “dieta,” which means “way of living.”
For most of human history this simply meant living with nature: eating with the seasons, resting and rising to the natural cycle of night and day. Common sense.
Over the last 100 years, however, the idea of a proper diet has become increasingly complicated and contradictory. Just 20 years ago, top nutrition experts were celebrating the health benefits of trans fats. Since then, carbs have been the enemy, fat has been the enemy, and new chemical additives, nanotechnology, and bioengineering have become a fundamental part of the food supply.
Today, there is more health advice than ever before, yet the rise in obesity and disease suggests that we’re still getting the wrong message. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, many health myths have accumulated over the last century, and it’s time to set the record straight.
“A lot of what we’re finding with health now has to do with getting back to common sense and what the old cultures and traditions have been teaching for years: from meditation, to yoga, to how we eat,” he said. “We’re realizing that most of these old traditions had so much wisdom, and we lost that during the Industrial Revolution as we became more, we think, sophisticated and modernized.”
Substance in Simplicity
Lipman’s new book “The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole Body Wellness” aims to clear the 20th century haze, and give readers timeless, easy-to-use health advice. The book is based on ancient traditions, hard science, and clinical experience, told in short paragraphs with lots of pictures.
One page is titled “What Are Omega-3s and Why Do They Matter?” In just a couple of sentences, it gives a clear understanding of how these fatty acids benefit the body and a list of good food sources.
Another page, “Learn Your Numbers,” mentions three tests that most doctors don’t take seriously enough: vitamin D levels, hemoglobin A1C, and fasting blood glucose.
“Everything You Know About Breakfast Is Wrong” makes a quick case for ditching the typical morning meal of sugar and grains for a poached egg or avocado.
According to co-author Danielle Claro, former editor-in-chief at Breathe magazine and current deputy editor at Real Simple, the idea behind “The New Health Rules” was to make something that everybody could understand and put into action.
“Frank has all the technical information that allowed us to distill this down to something so accessible. We have the expertise behind it, and there’s so much more to know. But the thing is that people really don’t need to know that in order to help themselves,” she said.
The book can easily be consumed in a single sitting, or taken in small doses, a page or two at a time. Contents include a list of six foods to buy every week, the dangers of GMOs and sugar, the value of meditation and sunshine, strategies for confronting sweet cravings, and a reminder to take a break from screens.
“Those who remember life before addictive electronic devices need no explanation of why it’s important to break away from technology regularly,” the book states. “For the younger set: Think of it as a cleanse for your mind. After some discomfort and craving, you’ll discover a clarity and peace you may never have known.”
Lipman uses the same tips in New Health Rules to treat patients at the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. He practices what is known as functional medicine—a system of healing which combines Eastern techniques and philosophies of wellness with Western scientific understanding of physiology and biochemistry.
“In Western medicine, we’re often just putting a Band-Aid over a problem,” he said. “If someone has inflammation, you give them an anti-inflammatory. If someone has heartburn, you give them a proton pump inhibitor. With functional medicine, we’re looking to see why someone has those symptoms, what’s the underlying thing that’s causing those symptoms, and then you treat that.”
People who already subscribe to an alternative medicine philosophy will find familiar company with “The New Health Rules.” For those to whom these ideas are new, the book provides an easy entrance.
“It’s a really nice, non-preachy way to spread what you believe if you’re already in this place,” Claro said. “What I’ve found is that people are giving this book to their parents and their siblings who are not as comfortable in a wellness space or don’t consume this type of content. People feel like they can be an emissary with this book.”
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