10 Rules for Aging Well

Lipman’s recent book, The New Rules of Aging Well, covers 10 habits that are critical to healthy aging, which he also highlights in this conversation. They include the following:

1. Eat less. Lipman shares that most research on aging focuses on decreased caloric intake: As we shift from the phase of growth and production to maintenance, we don’t need as many calories to sustain us. This point ties to the next factor . . .

2. Try fasting. Extending non-eating periods can stimulate autophagy, which is the body’s way of cleaning out dead cells. Fasting overnight or choosing two instead of three meals a day, for example, is a way to automatically eat less and help improve this mechanism.

3. Support your gut health. Inflammation is one of the most common underlying issues with aging — and Lipman says that, for many of his clients, the most common sources of it are a damaged gut and altered microbiome.

4. Cut your sugar intake. Sugar is also pro-inflammatory and negatively effects your gut, in addition to having adverse effects on hormones. As we age, we also become less carbohydrate tolerant.

5. Prioritize sleep. What most people don’t realize, Lipman says, is that older adults still need as much — if not more — sleep as someone who’s younger. He emphasizes that sleep is not a passive state; one of the many activities taking place during shuteye is the glymphatic system clearing out waste from our brains.

6. Move as much as you can. Lipman encourages finding exercise “bites” as often as possible throughout your days, even if it’s just getting up periodically from your desk. He also speaks to the importance of strength training: This helps combat muscle loss that naturally comes with age and aids our ability to metabolize sugar. Further, exercise is the best way to increase BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a molecule that helps with neuron formation.

7. Mind your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a toxin. While the severity of its impacts are individualized, in general, people tend to drink more than is best for them. Lipman notes that you don’t have to forgo alcohol all together, but that it’s wise to moderate and be conscious of your habits.

8. Hydrate. As you age, your perception of thirst decreases, which can lead to being underhydrated. Among the far-reaching benefits of water, Lipman shares he didn’t realize how much of a positive effect being well hydrated had on his own blood-sugar levels until he started wearing a continuous glucose monitor.

9. Grow your circle of friends. Studies show that loneliness is damaging to ours brain, hearts, and other organs, in addition to our overall well-being. Lipman says he’s observed that the ordinary things we do daily can have an extraordinary effect on our health: Be kind to others, laugh, have gratitude, spend time in nature, play like a child.

10. Have a sense of humor. It’s normal for things to change as we get older, Lipman says, but getting upset about it doesn’t help. If we can laugh about it and accept it, it will make the journey easier.