Dr Frank Lipman http://www.drfranklipman.com Functional and Integrative Medicine Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:36:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dr. Lipman’s Wellness News Roundup (Dec. 9) http://www.drfranklipman.com/wellness-news-roundup-dec-9/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/wellness-news-roundup-dec-9/#respond Fri, 09 Dec 2016 09:00:25 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28661 Every day, we scour the Web for compelling wellness stories. Here’s a look at this week’s roundup.

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By the Be Well Team

Every day, we scour the Web looking for compelling wellness stories that provide the information — and inspiration — you need to make good choices. Here are this week’s must-read wellness articles.

The Key to Longevity? Optimism!

Looking on the bright side could extend your life. That’s the upshot of a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which found that older women who were positive about the future were less likely to die in the next several years than those who weren’t so sanguine. “Optimism may directly impact biological function,” says study author Eric Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, by enhancing immune function and lowering inflammation. (NPR)

Youth Vaping is a Public Health Threat, Says Surgeon General

E-cigarettes are a growing health threat to the country’s youth, says Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a new report. From 2010 to 2015, he noted, the number of high-school students saying they had vaped in the past 30 days went from a “negligible” number to about one in six students. “I’ve traveled around the country and many young people and many adults don’t recognize e-cigarettes are not harmless,” Murthy told CBS. “They think these are not tobacco products and that they are benign water vapor. But we know nicotine has harmful effects on the developing brain. We’re issuing this report to draw people’s attention to the scale of the problem.” (CBS)

The Top 11 Wellness Trends of 2017

“Has wellness ever been bigger, broader, or cooler than it was in 2016?” So begins a fun mindbodygreen feature story that predicts the top 11 wellness trends in 2017. Included in the mix? Personalized nutrition, the rise of “ugly” produce to help combat food waste, communal gathering and women-only social spaces, medicinal mushrooms, infrared saunas, and the ketogenic diet. (mbg)

Global Prescription Drug Spending to Reach $1.5 Trillion by 2021

The amount of money spent on prescription drugs will reach almost $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to a new forecast report by Quintiles IMS Holding. “That figure, based on wholesale pricing,” Reuters notes, “is up nearly $370 billion from estimated 2016 spending.” The United States, the world’s largest market for prescription drugs, will account for up to $675 billion of the $1.5 trillion, the report notes. (Reuters)

Healthy Lifestyle Can Prevent Cancer

Simple lifestyle habits, including regular exercise, healthy diet, and tobacco avoidance, can help prevent cancer, according to a new study in JAMA Oncology. The study looked at more than 135,000 men and women, analyzing both lifestyle habits and cancer risk and death, and found that healthy habits were associated with significant reduction in both cancer incidence and mortality. “These findings reinforce that primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control,” says lead author Dr. Mingyang Song of Harvard Medical School. (Experience Life)

U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for the First Time in 20 Years

For the first time in two decades, the life expectancy of Americans has declined, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Specifically, it declined by about a month to hit 78.8 years of age. Although the top ten leading causes of death remained the same between 2014 and 2015, the death rates from the causes, including heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, has increased. (Time)

Teething Rings Contain BPA and More

Most commercial teething rings for babies contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers studied 59 commonly sold teething rings and found that every one of them contained Bisphenol A (BPA) or BPA alternatives like Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisephenol F (BPF). “These alternatives [to BPA] are equally toxic, or in some cases, more toxic,” study author Kurunthachalam Kannan, a research scientist at the New York State Department of Health, told FoxNews.com. Most of the teething rings contained other worrisome ingredients as well, including parabens and the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarbon. The vast majority teething rings studied were labeled either BPA-free or non-toxic. (Fox)

Extreme Grooming ‘Down There’ Linked to More STDs

Frequent pubic hair removal is linked with a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes and syphilis, according to a new report in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections. People who remove all of their public hair more than 11 times a year were four times as likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease, researchers found, while those who did it at least once in their lifetimes were almost twice as likely to report having at least one STD. “We were surprised at how big the effect was,” says Benjamin Breyer, a urologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the study. “Right now, we have no way [of] knowing if grooming causes the increase in risk for infections. All we can say is that they’re correlated. But I probably would avoid an aggressive shave right before having sex.” (NPR)


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Food Allergies Vs. Food Sensitivities: Know the Difference http://www.drfranklipman.com/food-allergies-vs-food-sensitivities/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/food-allergies-vs-food-sensitivities/#respond Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:00:11 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28633 Understanding the relationship between the two is key to grasping the true nature of the allergy epidemic.

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By Robyn O’Brien

Today, a life-threatening allergic reaction to food sends someone to the emergency room in the United States once every three minutes. On November 24th, it was Oakley Debbs. He’d visited the ER multiple times for his asthma, but it was his nut allergy that sent him there where he died in his dad’s arms at the age of 11.

Today, one in ten children struggle with asthma, and one in four are affected by allergies. The incidence of allergy has increased significantly over the past two decades, and allergy to peanuts has more than quadrupled from 1997 to 2010. Approximately 30 million children – more than 1/3 of our kids – are affected by these new childhood epidemics. This is not something we can just accept.

More importantly, the deaths have to stop. The most important thing is to know the symptoms, understand the condition and always be ready to administer epinephrine.

Today, it is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 1 in every 13 children. That’s roughly two in every classroom.

The Centers for Disease Control issued a report in 2008 that said there has been a 265% increase in the rate of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions over the prior ten-year period. Epipen, which has secured a monopoly in the space with over 90% market share, is now a $1.3 billion brand.

This Begs Explanation

An allergy is basically an overreaction by your immune system to a protein that it perceives as a threat — for example, the proteins in particular types of food, the dust mite protein, or pollen. For people without allergies, these proteins are harmless. But if you’ve got an allergy, your immune system sees these proteins as dangerous invaders.

To drive the invader out, your immune system mobilizes all its resources: mucus, to flush out the intruder; vomiting, to force it out; diarrhea, to expel it quickly. Such conditions may make you feel sick, but they’re actually evidence of your body’s attempts to get well.

A key aspect of the immune response is known as inflammation, characterized by one or more of four classic symptoms: redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Inflammation doesn’t occur only in allergic reactions; it flares up whenever your body feels threatened, in response to a bruise, cut, bacteria, or virus as well as to pollen, dust, or food. Scientists now believe that much of our immune system is found in our digestive tracts, where many of these inflammatory reactions occur in the form of stomachaches, cramping, nausea, bloating, and vomiting.

Ironically, the immune system’s inflammatory reaction — meant to heal and protect the body — often causes more problems than the initial “invader” in the cases when allergic reactions become life-threatening.

Common Symptoms of Food Allergy: Immediate Reactions

  • rash or hives
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • itchy skin
  • eczema
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • swelling of the airways to the lungs
  • anaphylaxis

Food Allergies and Food Sensitivity: Our Immune System Overreacts Again

At first glance, the distinction between “allergies” and “sensitivity” may seem like a meaningless word game. But understanding the relationship between these two conditions is crucial to grasping the true nature of the allergy epidemic — and to seeing how even the supposedly healthy foods in our kitchens may be harmful to our health.

As we’ve seen, allergies are an overreaction of our immune system, a kind of exaggerated response to a perceived danger. When a child comes in contact with these proteins (peanut, egg, etc.) her immune system “recognizes” the protein as dangerous, just as it would have seen the danger in the bacterium that causes pneumonia or the virus that causes mumps. In response, her immune system creates special “fighter” proteins called antibodies designed to identify and neutralize the “invader.”

These fighter proteins are known as immunoglobulin E, or IgE for short. When they’re released into the bloodstream, their purpose is to “seek and destroy” the invader, which they do by creating one or more of the classic food allergy symptoms, such as hives, diarrhea, or, in more extreme cases, the anaphylactic shock that can kill a child within minutes.

The classic IgE response occurs within minutes or even seconds, because IgE proteins are some of the most aggressive antibodies we know. That immediate IgE response is the defining characteristic of an allergic reaction.

Food sensitivities start out in a similar way. If a “sensitive” child is exposed to a protein that his system perceives as a threat, he’ll manufacture another type of fighter protein, known as Immunoglobulin G, or IgG. Although IgE and IgG antibodies play similar roles, they produce somewhat different — though often overlapping — symptoms.

A crucial difference between the two, though, is their reaction time. The less aggressive IgG antibodies typically produce a delayed response that might not appear for hours or even days after the child has consumed the offending food.

So even though food sensitivities and food allergies both produce painful, inflammatory, and potentially dangerous responses, this delayed reaction time has led many doctors to give food sensitivities second-class status. Partly that’s because they don’t present an immediate and obvious threat to children’s lives: only the IgE proteins trigger anaphylactic shock, for example, and in that sense, only the IgE proteins can kill (though the IgG reaction can have serious long-term consequences). I also think that traditional doctors tend to downplay the importance of nutrition, frequently dismissing the idea that such symptoms as earache, eczema, crankiness, brain fog, and sleep problems might be related to a child’s diet.

However, an article in The Lancet, Britain’s most respected medical journal, casts another light on the subject. The article referred to doctors who use elimination diets—diets that begin with a very limited, “safe” array of food choices and then add potentially problematic foods back into the diet, one by one.

When you take a break from eating that problem food, however, and then add it back into your diet, you see how powerful its effects are and how responsible it may be for a seemingly unrelated problem. Foods that you thought were safe for you turn out to be highly problematic, indicating the presence of a previous undiagnosed food sensitivity. As a result, the authors of the Lancet article conclude that the prevalence of food sensitivity (referred to in the article as “food intolerance”) has been seriously underestimated.

Certainly, food allergies are far more dramatic. Whenever you read about a kid who died within minutes of eating at a fast-food joint or after breathing in the peanut dust from a friend’s candy wrapper, that’s an “IgE-mediated” food allergy. They’re fast, they can be deadly.

But doctors should be looking at delayed reactions too, the “IgG-mediated” responses to food sensitivities. And some doctors do look seriously at both. Most conventional doctors, though, tend to focus on IgE immediate reactions. I think there are lots of reasons why they should view the two types of reactions as part of a larger, single problem.

First, both reactions have the same ultimate cause: the immune system’s overreaction to apparently harmless food. According to internationally acclaimed author and physician Kenneth Bock, M.D., there’s also quite a bit of overlap between IgE and IgG symptoms. Both can contribute to inflammatory responses in multiple body systems.

True, the delayed IgG reactions are less likely to cause hives and are more likely to produce a host of vague symptoms, such as headache, brain fog, sleep problems, joint pain, fatigue, and muscle aches. But both the immediate and the delayed responses are immune-system problems triggered by a supposedly “harmless” food.

Conventional doctors’ tendency to separate “IgE-mediated” food allergies and “IgG-mediated” food sensitivities into two separate problems has the effect of minimizing the allergy epidemic. After all, IgE allergies, IgG sensitivities, and asthma—three similar ways that our immune systems can overreact—are all on the rise. It makes sense to find a doctor who is willing to address all three as symptoms of a greater underlying issue.

Common Symptoms of Food Sensitivity: Delayed Reactions

  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal problems, including bloating and gas
  • itchy skin and skin rashes like eczema
  • brain fog
  • muscle or joint aches
  • headache
  • sleeplessness and sleep disorders
  • chronic rhinitis (runny nose), congestion, and postnasal drip

Six Takeaways

1. Even if your kids can’t talk, their skin speaks volumes! Did you know that the skin is a person’s largest organ? Even when your kid is too young to tell you how he feels or too used to her symptoms to identify them (when kids hurt all the time, they don’t know they hurt!), you can often read your child’s condition in his or her skin.

Does your kid have eczema? Does he get rashes around the mouth, especially after he eats a certain food or swallows a certain beverage? Rashes around the knees, elbows, or armpits? Does he have “allergic shiners” — that is, dark circles under the eyes?

These are all inflammatory reactions, signs that the body is trying to rid itself of what it perceives as “toxic invader.” In your child’s case, that “toxic invader” might be an apparently harmless food, to which your kid is either allergic or “sensitive.” Keeping that invader away from your kid may bring relief from symptoms — and it may clear up other problems, such as brain fog, crankiness, sleep problems, inattention, acne, and mood swings.

2. Look below. Your kids’ bowel movements, not to be too delicate here, also speak volumes. Runny poops are a sign that a person isn’t properly digesting his food. And indeed, as we get allergens out of some children’s diets, poops tend to firm up.

3. Chronic ear infections are often a sign of dairy allergies. In some cases, milk may have ill effects like eczema, upset stomachs or chronic ear infections for children who are allergic or sensitive to it.

4. Find a doctor who is willing to work with you. Specifically, find a practitioner who is willing to test for both IgE and IgG allergies and sensitivities and to address the important role that elimination diets can play in managing allergic symptoms like eczema, ear infections and chronic mucus.

5. More research is needed. Food allergies are impacting a growing number of Americans. It is impacting everything from how schools feed children to what snacks airlines choose to carry on planes. Napster co-founder Sean Parker recently donated $24 million to Stanford to conduct research to get to the bottom of this condition, what is triggering it and how to cure it.

6. Find a friend. Find an ally to help you get safe snacks in the classroom or meet with your congressman to discuss this epidemic. The landscape of childhood is changing. It is changing families and changing the food industry. None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something.

Always discuss individual health inquiries and medical issues with a qualified personal physician and/or specialist.

This article was adapted from the original, which appeared on Robyn O’Brien’s website. Robyn is a former financial analyst covering the food industry. She triggered an allergic reaction in the food industry when she asked: “Are we allergic to food or what’s been done to it?”

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Be Well Success Story: ‘I lost 13 lbs. on the Be Well Cleanse, and it’s staying off!’ http://www.drfranklipman.com/cleanse-lost-13-lbs-staying-off/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/cleanse-lost-13-lbs-staying-off/#respond Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:00:08 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28555 “Before I did the Be Well Cleanse, sugar had a real hold on me,” says Sandy Burton.

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By Sandy Burton, as told to Katrine van Wyk

I was truly amazed how much easier a two-week Cleanse was than I previously thought. I felt no hunger or deprivation. It forced me to find new ways of nourishing myself and isn’t that what it’s all about?

What I am most excited about is how I now relate to food and hunger after the Cleanse. I am finally at a place where I have control over my moods, sleep, energy level, and hunger. What a great gift to give myself.  I make much better decisions about food now, and I find I am intrigued by good healthy nutrition. A major shift for me is my view of food as nourishment for my body rather than a reward.

Now that I am eating better, I also feel that my brain fog has lifted, and I feel more aware and awake. I lost 13 lbs on the Be Well Cleanse, and it’s staying off! My friend had me stand up and ‘do the twirl’ in a restaurant to see what I looked like, and now both family and friends are interested in what I’m doing because of the dramatic difference. I’m recommending the Be Well Cleanse to anyone and everyone who asks.

Before I did the Be Well Cleanse, sugar had a real hold on me. Sugar makes me not care what or how much I eat — I just lose all control. When I removed it from my eating, I found a better version of myself — the one I have been hoping was ‘in there somewhere.’ It is such a relief to be free from sugar. I have learned to plan ahead, bring good snacks and eat them whenever I’m feeling hungry, and I drink a lot more water than I used to. I now know that almost any high-quality restaurant has healthy alternatives for a meal so I can still eat out and enjoy social gatherings. I cook healthier foods for myself at home too — I have discovered that roasting vegetables is so easy and delicious!

I was so pleasantly surprised by the taste of the shakes on the Be Well Cleanse. I loved them so much I have continued using the Cleanse shake as my breakfast of choice even after I finished with the Cleanse. The Be Well team was so helpful in giving me ideas of how to prepare the shakes in the morning, and all of them have answered all my questions with such respect, understanding, and a supportive attitude. Thank you!

The Be Well experience? Life-changing. Simple as that.

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The Be Well Recipe: Hot and Sour Chicken Soup with Turnips and Shiitake Mushrooms http://www.drfranklipman.com/hot-sour-chicken-soup/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/hot-sour-chicken-soup/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 09:00:05 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28624 The key to this soulful Cleanse-friendly soup is making fresh broth.

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Photo by Betsy Nelson

The best beginning to a soulful soup is making fresh broth. Making the broth with chicken thighs serves a dual purpose — you gently poach the meat that will be used in the soup while creating a rich base for your soup.

Turnips, cruciferous veggies that lend an earthy note to the soup, are packed with nutrients, fiber, and cancer-fighting properties. If you are lucky enough to find turnips with their green tops intact, feel free to sub them for the collard greens in this recipe.

Lastly, a note about kuzu, a root-based thickener used here instead of cornstarch. Be sure to track it down — it has been used by Eastern healers for centuries and is known for its ability to help balance natural sugars, soothe digestive disturbances, and calm the nerves.

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup with Turnips and Shiitake Mushrooms (Serves 4)


  • 2-3 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 6 cups cold water
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium or 2 small turnips, washed and cubed, about 1 ½ cups
  • 6 shiitake mushroom, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chopped collard greens, tough stem removed
  • 3 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. kuzu (found in the Asian section of most natural grocery stores)
  • 4 green onions, chopped

Place chicken thighs, lemongrass, and peppercorns in a 2-quart stockpot and cover with the cold water. Bring to a simmer, and keep simmering over low temperature, not allowing it to boil, for about 1 ½ hours. Remove chicken and allow to cool.

Strain the lemongrass and peppercorns out of the broth and return to a simmer. Season the broth with turmeric, ground pepper, salt, ginger, and garlic. Add the turnips and simmer until they are almost tender; then add the mushrooms.

Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and pull the meat off the bone. Shred the meat and add to the simmering soup. Stir in the collard greens and simmer for another 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the apple cider vinegar and kuzu until the kuzu is dissolved, add to the soup, and simmer until slightly thickened. Serve the soup topped with chopped green onions.

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6 Ways to Beat Holiday Stress http://www.drfranklipman.com/6-ways-beat-holiday-stress/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/6-ways-beat-holiday-stress/#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:00:14 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28616 The holiday season can be one of serenity, calm, and even a little joy if you play your cards right.

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By Dr. Frank Lipman

The holiday season is upon us — bringing with it a sleigh-full of stress if you’re not prepared. The modern scourge of ‘too much to do’ and ‘too little time to do it’ really comes to a head in December, pushing physical and emotional health to the limit. Holiday parties, family obligations, work commitments, gift-giving, and not-so healthy food create the perfect storm of stress.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The holiday season can be one of serenity, calm and even a little joy if you play your cards right.

So, are you up for a game of holiday pushback? Here are a few tips that will help keep you on an even physical and mental keel for the next few weeks — and well beyond:

1. Keep Immunity Strong

A less-than-stellar diet, too many alcoholic beverages, too much partying, and not enough sleep – yes, December is a social marathon. It’s also a physical one, so you’d be wise to prep for it so you’re still standing by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around. Here are some simple ways to keep your immunity humming:

    • Lay off sugar, alcohol, and junk food. Eat as cleanly as possible in between holiday events, and choose party foods wisely to help keep the bad bacteria in your gut from overwhelming the good — and weakening your immune system’s defenses.
    • Start the day with a smoothie. Even if your diet goes south later on, a morning smoothie packed with healthy fats and protein will lay a good foundation for your day.
    • Eat your greens all day. Put breakfast eggs on a bed of greens, eat a collard green wrap for lunch, and be sure to eat a side (or three!) of broccoli with your dinner. Eating greens helps feed your good gut bacteria the fiber and nutrients they — and your immune system — thrive on.
    • Keep digestion on an even keel. Don’t forget daily digestive enzymes and a good probiotic. If things get slow, add some magnesium to help ease constipation.
    • Sip on a green drink. When whole food greens aren’t within easy reach, shake up a green drink to boost the energy and supplemental nutrients you may be falling short on amidst the holiday whirl.
    • Take a sauna, hot bath, or even a nap. All will help to de-stress and relax muscles and blood vessels, which is helpful for keeping defenses high.
    • Get your beauty rest. Ever notice how a few days of too little sleep is usually followed by a cold or worse? During the holidays, getting enough sleep will help keep your immune system in germ-fighting form.

2. Chill Out Early and Often

When faced with a month of nonstop holiday activities and a to-do list as long as Santa’s, stress can easily bubble over — so tame it before you blow a gasket. Before your day gets underway, do your best to calm, center, and soothe yourself. Start with 5 to 10 minutes of silent or guided meditation. Next, do some energizing yoga stretches to power up for the day. Even if a few sun salutations are all you can muster, they’re great for boosting concentration and focus and taming anxiety and stress. At the end of the day, if you’re feeling wound up or over-revved, add some relaxing restorative yoga. Overwhelmed in the middle of the day? Hit the pause button: Find a quiet spot, and do some slow, deep breathing to help relieve tension, quiet the mind, and help lower your blood pressure.

3. Dial Down the ‘Perfect Holiday’ Mindset

Hosts everywhere expend a lot of energy trying to make holiday gatherings ‘perfect’ (you know who you are). All that perfectionism can actually cast a pall on the occasion, ratcheting up tension and triggering short fuses. If you’re hosting, ease the pressure. Start by reframing the day in your mind. Think of it as simply time spent with those you love (and perhaps a few relatives you may not), with a nice meal somewhere in the middle of it, rather than a once-in-a-lifetime extravaganza. As I’ve said before, nobody will remember the overdone Brussels sprouts, but guests won’t soon forget a holiday host meltdown.

4. Be a Graciously Healthy Guest

When your hosts are handling the cooking, you are at their culinary mercy and chances are, the typical holiday spread will feature loads of dietary landmines — think refined carbs, sugar, and gluten — which can be stressful for anyone who is trying to stay on a healthy eating path. But, rather than passing your stress onto your hosts by calling attention to your dietary needs in the middle of dinner, ask in advance if you can contribute a dish or salad. If the host declines your offer, then dine defensively and eat a healthy meal or nutritious smoothie before you head out for the night.

5. Cut Yourself Some Slack

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of ‘no.’ It’s not always easy to say, but if you want to put the brakes on holiday stress, being able to gently and graciously turn down invitations (particularly the last-minute ones) and extra responsibilities is essential. Overbooking boosts our seasonal stress levels and our total load – which, of course, has a negative impact on immunity. Pencil in a few nights off for yourself and enjoy a little forced downtime.

6. Practice Ubuntu

Though you may be feeling harried as you go about your holiday activities, remember to practice ‘Ubuntu,’ or humanity and kindness towards others, along the way. Creating moments of positive connection with others, no matter how small, helps spreads joy, lifts spirits, and brings us all closer together. So even if someone cuts you off at the checkout line, return fire with Ubuntu to disarm, de-escalate, and shift emotions in a more positive direction. As 
Bishop Tutu says, “my humanity is caught up in your humanity, and when your humanity 
is enhanced, mine is enhanced as well.” It’s a good lesson to keep in mind all year long.

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Dr. Lipman’s Wellness News Roundup (Dec. 2) http://www.drfranklipman.com/wellness-news-roundup-dec-2/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/wellness-news-roundup-dec-2/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:00:59 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28602 Every day, we scour the Web for compelling wellness stories. Here’s a look at this week’s roundup.

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By the Be Well Team

Every day, we scour the Web looking for compelling wellness stories that provide the information — and inspiration — you need to make good choices. Here are this week’s must-read wellness articles.

Lack of Sleep Costs U.S. More Than $400 Billion a Year

Too little sleep costs the United States economy as much as $411 billion annually. That’s the word according to a new report released by the RAND Corporation, which linked sleep deprivation to reduced work productivity and an increased risk of death. “Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and well-being but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers,” noted lead author Marco Hafner. “Improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with our research showing that simple changes can make a big difference. For example, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy.” Of the five countries studied in the report, the U.S. had the largest economic toll. Japan was second, with a $138 billion annual cost linked to sleep deprivation, followed by Germany ($60 billion cost), the United Kingdom ($50 billion cost), and Canada ($21 billion cost). (HealthDay)

The United States of Diabetes

It’s no secret that the U.S. is in the midst of a diabetes epidemic, but some states fare far worse than others, according to new research from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Alabama and West Virginia have the highest rates of diabetes in the country — more than 16 percent of each state’s residents have diabetes — while Utah, Rhode Island, and Colorado have the lowest incidence of diabetes (less than 8 percent of adults have diabetes). (Time)

6 Books to Build Resilience

Looking for thoughtful holiday gifts? Check out this intriguing list of books that covers everything from mindful eating to coping with PTSD to bringing together mindfulness and creativity. (Mindful)

Step Away from the Energy Drink

Yet another study is raising concerns about energy drinks, especially when consumed by adolescents. Researchers surveyed young people who said they frequently drank energy drinks and found they were more likely to report headaches, anger issues, and difficulty breathing in the past six months. Although the researchers could not confirm a causal link between the energy drinks and these symptoms, the evidence against energy drinks is mounting, says study co-author Amelia Arria, director of the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center for Young Adult Health and Development. “While more research is needed, accumulating evidence exists to suggest that energy drink consumption is linked to adverse cardiovascular events, sleep disturbances, and other substance use among adolescents,” she says. (Time)

Rx: Exercise!

When it comes to chronic disease, good old exercise can deliver so many of the benefits of drugs and surgery with almost none of the side effects. Unfortunately, many docs underprescribe exericse. “If a pill could give you all benefits of exercise, it would be the best pill around,” says Edward Laskowski, co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation. (The Washington Post)

Having Trouble Sleeping? Drugs Aren’t the Answer

Although a third of Americans have trouble sleeping, popping a pill is not the answer, say a growing number of experts. Instead, they say, cognitive behavioral therapy along with a host of lifestyle-based changes, including avoiding caffeine and alcohol, taking up yoga and sleeping in a cool, dark room, can help. “Drugs don’t provide a natural sleep, and the side effects are significant,” says Nitin Damle, an internist and president of the American College of Physicians. “It’s true in all age groups, but even more problematic for older adults.” (The Wall Street Journal)

French Lessons: Is Taking Pleasure in Food the Key to Not Overeating?

When it comes to losing weight, most Americans think of dieting, restriction, and sacrifice. But, we should learn from the French who take real pleasure in their food, notes Marie-Anne Suizzo, an American professor who spent eight months researching French parenting styles in Paris. According to Suizzo, the cultivation of culinary pleasure starts very early in French families and is supported in childcare centers where even 2-year-olds are served four-course lunches of real, i.e., adult, food. Suizzo thinks the cultivation of pleasure leads to an overall healthier attitude towards food. “What if we could have it all? Keep the pleasure and stick to our resolution?” Suizzo asks. “In the US, people tend to compartmentalize pleasure, separating it from our daily chores and relegating it to special times. They have happy hours, not happy days. They have guilty pleasures, as if enjoying chocolate or a favorite movie is a moral failing.” (Quartz)


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Acupuncture: Getting to the Point http://www.drfranklipman.com/acupuncture-getting-point/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/acupuncture-getting-point/#respond Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:00:02 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28568 Many people are turning to this ancient practice for relief from acute pain and chronic symptoms. Here’s why it works.

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Written by Selene Yeager with illustrations by Stephanie Dalton Cowan
Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Four years ago, John Pacharis crashed his off-road motorcycle on a rough stretch of trail, tearing his ACL, MCL, and PCL — three of the four major ligaments in his knee. He needed surgery, and afterward he plummeted into a period of pain and depression that lasted for weeks.

“I did everything wrong,” says the 42-year-old from Saint Lawrence, Penn. “I just sat on the couch feeling depressed, taking too many painkillers. Then I found out I needed a second surgery and was determined to do it better.”

He began searching online for ideas about how to better manage his recovery and came across a support group where someone suggested acupuncture. “I was very skeptical but figured I might as well try it,” recalls Pacharis. “The first thing the acupuncturist did was put needles in my hands to calm me down and lower my heart rate. I felt an immediate, amazing flow of euphoria. It was like Dilaudid — but obviously so much better for me.”

Pacharis received weekly acupuncture treatments for two months, both to keep swelling under control and to manage pain with fewer drugs. He still gets treated on occasion, and says he’d do more if it were covered by his insurance.

“I don’t know how it works,” he says. “But it definitely works.”

Time for Acupuncture

Once regarded as alternative medicine in the United States, acupuncture has repeatedly been proven successful in treating cases like Pacharis’s. Today it’s no longer confined to specialized clinics; acupuncturists now work side by side with physicians in many hospitals and other medical settings.

“The current opioid epidemic has opened the door for safer, more natural ways to reduce pain,” says acupuncturist Adam Reinstein, LAc. He was hired in 2013 to work in the emergency room at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis as part of the hospital’s campaign to integrate Eastern techniques with a Western medical approach. He’s the first acupuncturist on an ER hospital staff in the United States.

During one shift, he might treat a car-accident victim and someone suffering complications from chemotherapy with the same basic approach. “We look at acupuncture as the first level of pain and anxiety relief,” he says. “Pain, anxiety, and nausea are the big three I treat most in this setting. In many cases, I can help patients start to feel better in the first two to five minutes.”

As patients like Pacharis will attest, acupuncture can provide as much relief as painkillers. A preliminary observational study Reinstein conducted at Abbott Northwestern, which was published in the journal Pain Medicine in February 2016, found that among 182 patients tracked over the course of 13 months, those who received acupuncture alone reported reduced pain scores equivalent to those who received a combination of acupuncture and analgesic painkillers. Reinstein notes that acupuncture has even preempted the need for prescription painkillers for some patients.

Acupuncture’s efficacy in relieving acute and chronic pain has also made it standard practice for many professional sports teams: The Kansas City Chiefs hired the NFL’s first acupuncturist 23 years ago. In 2008 the U.S. Air Force announced it would train medics in the use of battlefield acupuncture (BFA), using points based in the ears, because of its proven efficacy in relieving acute pain. The VA hospital in Boston began offering acupuncture to veterans in 2013 because of its ability to reduce dependence on opioids for chronic pain and to manage posttraumatic stress.

Though pain relief is still the primary reason many Westerners seek acupuncture, more have discovered what people in China, where acupuncture is part of routine medical care, have long understood: Acupuncture can offer relief from a vast array of health problems, including digestive issues; stress, anxiety, and depression; respiratory disorders, such as asthma and allergies; hormone-related issues like infertility, PMS, and menopausal symptoms; and more. Read on to explore whether it might be right for you.

QI: Your Energetic Force

Even people who receive regular acupuncture treatments often wonder how they work. One reason for the mystery is that Western cultures don’t readily comprehend or embrace some of acupuncture’s central tenets, like qi (pronounced “chee”).

A key concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), qi is often described as a universal or energetic “force.” Grasping energetic forces is challenging for many Western minds: We tend to trust only what we can see, touch, or measure.

Still, according to TCM, qi drives all our biological processes. It’s considered the body’s dynamism, moving blood, prompting organ function, and changing food into energy. Ted Kaptchuk, OMD, professor of medicine at Harvard and the author of The Web That Has No Weaver, defines qi as “the fundamental quality of being and becoming.”

The goal of acupuncture is to promote the free, robust flow of qi throughout your body. It’s like a river, explains Katherine Flesher, LAc, an acupuncturist who runs Three Treasures Natural Healing, a community clinic in Minneapolis.

“When the river is low, the trash bags and algae sit in the stagnant waters, creating a mess,” Flesher explains. “When it’s rushing and high, it’s beautiful. Nothing gets stuck in there. It’s the same with qi. When it’s low, waste products get stuck and you have illness. When it’s high, you feel energetic and healthy.”

Kaptchuk adds that “whether qi is some kind of ‘real’ quantitative energy in the Western sense… or a metaphoric way of depicting and experiencing interconnection” is not a major concern for most practitioners. As acupuncture becomes more mainstream, many practitioners may not mention qi at all.

“I explain it in whatever language works best for who I’m talking to,” says Rhonda Hogan, LAc, an acupuncturist in Somerset, N.J. “I can talk about it in oriental-medicine terms, or I can explain it from a Western physiological perspective.”

In their explanation of acupuncture’s efficacy, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cite studies showing how acupuncture influences blood flow, hormone secretion, and immune function.

Those studies include a meta-analysis of randomized control trials with 18,000 total participants, financed by the NIH and published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2012. This large study shows that acupuncture outperforms “sham” treatments (where needles are placed at random points or not far enough into the skin) in treating osteoarthritis, chronic headaches, and chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain.

Regardless of the precise terms used to describe how it works, acupuncture usually speaks for itself.

According to biologist Kelly Boggs, LAc, DiplAc, CH, who practices Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, and acupuncture in Phoenixville, Pa., “you’re helping the body to function optimally and heal itself.”

YIN AND YANG: Your Body’s Scale

Chinese medicine views the body as an anatomical whole, with organs defined in terms of yin and yang. Like qi, yin and yang might sound esoteric, but Kaptchuk simply calls them “convenient labels used to describe how things function in relation to each other.”

Yin qualities are night-like: cool, dark, restful, and passive. By contrast, yang qualities are like the sun: hot, stimulating, vigorous, and active.

When we’re healthy, we maintain a balance of the two. When we have symptoms of illness, we usually have too much of one and not enough of the other. Hormonal cycles of all kinds readily reveal the interplay of yin and yang.

“There is a constant struggle to keep these two in balance, which is the root of all diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine,” says Boggs. “For example, yin works to cool the body and maintain a constant temperature. So if yin becomes depleted or is insufficient, yang will increase, which increases body temperature.”

She explains how this works during menopause. “Our bodies are typically more yang during the day and yin at night. During menopause you have kidney yin deficiency, so your yang persists into the night and you have insomnia and hot flashes.”

Research bears this out. In one yearlong study of more than 200 women ages 45 to 60, acupuncture treatments reduced hot flashes and night sweats by as much as 36 percent, and improved sleep, memory, and anxiety.

Heewon Lee, 41, of Minneapolis, sought treatment for reproductive issues. “My husband and I were trying to get pregnant, but my periods were long and somewhat irregular,” she recalls. A friend referred her to acupuncture.

“Through regular treatment, we were able to make my cycles very regulated and keep my hormones at the right levels, so I could get pregnant and sustain the pregnancy,” she says. Two healthy boys later, Lee still seeks regular acupuncture treatments for long-term health and wellness.

MERIDIANS: Your Energy Channels

“Meridian” is a French translation of the Chinese term jing-luo (pronounced jing-low). Jing means “to go through”; luo is akin to “network.” Meridians pass through and connect various organs and parts of the body, acting as channels for qi to flow. (See “Making the Acupuncture Connection,” below, for the potential role of fascia in this process.)

There are 14 meridians in our bodies that correspond to particular organs and systems, including the lung, large intestine, heart, stomach, spleen, kidney, bladder, gallbladder, liver, and small intestine. They sit close to the body’s surface.

This is why an acupuncturist may place needles in your hands or feet to treat problems with, say, your liver. The effects reach the organs through the meridians. “You can see an acupuncturist for shoulder pain, and she or he may or may not touch your shoulder,” says Hogan. In the battlefield acupuncture used by the military, for example, it’s not practical to place needles all over the body — but practitioners access meridians through pressure points in the ears to help ease pain in multiple areas.

When meridians become blocked by stress, fatigue, or poor nutrition, energy can’t flow to organs. This sets the stage for physical and emotional illnesses. Like Flesher, Reinstein uses the image of an ­obstructed river.

“When a tree falls in a river, it begins catching debris and creates a logjam, which in turn affects the ecosystem downstream,” he says. “My goal is to open the channels, clear out the garbage, and create an even flow of energy throughout the system.”

ACUPOINTS: Your Body’s Hot Spots

Acupuncturists insert needles at specific points, called acupoints, located along the meridians just beneath the skin. The goal is to clear obstacles in the meridians to help restore the flow of qi.

Your body has hundreds of acupoints. Most have local as well as distal effects. This means a practitioner may insert a needle in your back to relieve local pain there. Or he may use that same point to treat pain farther down the channel, like sciatica, or even use it to help relieve depression, if the point lies on the same meridian that channels energy to the brain.

Not all points are created equal. Some — called antique or transporting points — are especially powerful. These are located on the arms between the elbows and fingertips, and on the legs between the knees and toes.

“Stimulating these points has strong, far-reaching action that can help treat most anything, as it stimulates energy throughout the entire channel,” explains Flesher.

Acupuncturists might also focus their treatment on trigger points — tight knots in muscles that can restrict range of motion and cause pain at the site of the point. (This is the treatment commonly used in the NFL, where two minutes of “dry needling” can restore as much flexibility to a muscle as up to 30 minutes on a foam roller.) Untreated trigger points can also cause referred pain in other parts of the body when the tight muscles tug you out of alignment.

“Trigger-point acupuncture is a more aggressive, direct manipulation of these knots,” says Hogan. “Tennis elbow, for example, is caused by a tight forearm muscle. Plantar fasciitis is caused by trigger points in the midcalf muscle. By inserting an acupuncture needle in those trigger points, we can eliminate the tightness and its related problems over time.”

For more on acupuncture, including how to find a good practitioner, see the full version of this article at Experience Life

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Want to Make ‘Diseases Disappear’? Then, Watch This TED Talk with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee http://www.drfranklipman.com/want-make-diseases-disappear/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/want-make-diseases-disappear/#respond Wed, 30 Nov 2016 09:00:05 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28562 Check out this great TED Talk about functional medicine by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee.

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By the Be Well Team

Is it possible to make diseases disappear? If we’re talking about chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, then absolutely, says Dr. Rangan Chatterjee in his wonderfully insightful TED Talk about functional medicine.

“The reasons I can make diseases disappear is because diseases are just an illusion,” Chatterjee says. “Diseases don’t really exist — at least not in the way we think we do.”

If we’re interested in optimal health — instead of simply managing disease or suppressing symptoms — we need to look at the root causes of illness. Once we look at factors like diet, stress level, sleep quality, physical activity levels, and environmental toxins, Chatterjee says, we being to realize that seemingly separate diseases, such as depression, heart disease, and dementia, “actually at their core share common causes.”

For more about functional medicine and making chronic disease disappear, check out Chatterjee’s TED Talk:

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The Truth About Statins http://www.drfranklipman.com/the-truth-about-statins/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/the-truth-about-statins/#respond Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:00:43 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28590 When it comes to statins, says a British cardiologist and his colleagues, millions of people are being overmedicated.

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By the Be Well Team

For years, we’ve been told that cholesterol-lowering medications called statins can prevent heart disease and that the drugs do far more good than harm. Not so fast, says British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra who, along with several other experts, recently wrote a scathing opinion piece in the medical journal Prescriber about the latest study to exalt the efficacy and safety of statin therapy.

One critical problem, say Malhotra and his colleagues, is that the raw data behind statin studies have not been published and there is no way to independently verify the findings. To boot, most of the studies that have concluded statin therapy is safe and effective have been industry-funded.

“Decades of misinformation on cholesterol and the gross exaggeration of statin benefits with downplaying of side effects has likely led to the overmedication of millions of people across the world,” says Malhotra.

“The lack of transparency in the prescription of statins is just one symptom of a broken system of healthcare where finance-based medicine has trumped independent evidence and what is most important for patients. At the heart of the problem is that those with a responsibility to patients and scientific integrity — namely medical journals and institutions — collude with industry for financial gain.”

Until access to raw clinical trial data is released, Malhotra and his colleagues note, there is no way to advance an evidence-based claim about the efficacy or safety of statins.

“It’s time to enter a new era for full independent access to all clinical trials data so doctors can make decisions on treatments with patients with full transparency about true benefits and risks,” Malhotra says. “Until then let’s open our eyes and stop buying into the great cholesterol con.”

For more on the truth about statins as well as the flawed “cholesterol hypothesis,” check out this interview with Dr. Malhotra on Sky News.

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Meat Smarts: 3 Ways to Get Healthy About Meat http://www.drfranklipman.com/meat-smarts-3-ways-get-healthy/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/meat-smarts-3-ways-get-healthy/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2016 09:00:54 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=28548 The smarter you are about meat-eating, the better it is for your health.

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By Dr. Frank Lipman

Eating meat – it’s nothing new. In fact, it’s estimated that we’ve been doing it for more than 2 million years. Through the ages, we’ve come up with endless ways to season it, cook it, and enjoy it, and if you were a child of the 1970s and 1980s when American meat consumption was hitting its peak, you may have grown up eating quite a lot of it.

I’ve always said that eating animals is a personal choice, but I also believe that when it comes to meat-eating, there are ways to be smarter about it. And, the smarter you are, the better for your health.

So, what’s the way forward? Here are my top three meat-eating strategies:

Eat the Happiest, Healthiest Critters Possible

Hankering for some beef, lamb, or bison? Look for meat from grass-fed animals who’ve spent their lives doing what they do best — grazing. In other words, skip the industrial feedlot animals raised on grains and antibiotics. Meats from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals also tend to be higher in beta-carotene (Vitamin A), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t have access to pastured or grass-fed meats, then organic would be my next choice. Keep in mind though, that organic meats may still come from animals that have been raised in confinement and fed grains. (For more about why you should learn how your meat was raised and treated, check out my 5 reasons to avoid factory-farmed meats.)

Say ‘No’ to Faux

Some people think they’re being virtuous by replacing real meat with faux meat crumbles, Tofurky ‘roasts,’ veggie bacon, veggie burgers, and more. Bad move. Though the raw materials for these meat substitutes may include vegetables, by the time they make it in the package, they are ultra-processed, lab-made Frankenfoods. Most faux-meat products wind up offering little in the way of nutritional value, but lots in the way of chemical preservatives, fillers and other additives, as well as unhealthy fats. For example, here’s a complete ingredient list for a popular brand of veggie bacon strips:


Yikes! My advice: Keep it simple and just say ‘no’ to faux.

Make Room for Veggies

While well-sourced meat is a good way to fill up on protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients like vitamin B and zinc, we still need to leave plenty of room on our plate for disease-fighting plant-based foods such as veggies, nuts, seeds, and possibly some legumes. Instead of thinking of meat as the centerpiece of your meal, why not build around it? Take your traditionally meat-heavy chili and throw in a bunch of veggies. Instead of that humongous steak you were going to have for dinner, slice up a portion to throw on a Southwestern-style salad of Romaine lettuce, avocado, red onion, and pumpkin seeds. Seek out plant-based foods that have a meatier mouth feel, such as beans and even mushrooms like shiitake and enoki. An added bonus of rightsizing your meat consumption? It will be easier on your wallet. Pastured and grass-fed meat are definitely more expensive than factory-farmed meats. However, if you’re making more room for veggies and eating less meat, the cost differential will be slight – and well worth the extra health benefit.

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