Ask Dr Frank Lipman about his celebrity clientele and he’ll simply tell you that he has worked with everyone.
He’s much too professional to name names, but the A-listers he has helped are more than willing to speak about him. As Maggie Gyllenhaal tells it, he changed her life: “I eat what he tells me to eat and drink what he tells me to drink and I feel great for it.” Michelle Williams is also a fan: “Frank is my go-to wellness guy and he has solved every problem I’ve thrown his way, using his wisdom and his humour and his heart.”
There are no shortage of gushing testimonies – Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Bacon and Sienna Miller are just a few on a long star-studded list.
It’s a bit surprising then to find that Dr Frank Lipman, the health evangelist to the stars, seems completely down to earth when he speaks to the Irish Examiner from a “freezing, cold and crazy” New York.
More than that; his health message is accessible – and relevant – to ordinary mortals who do not have to be at the top of their game in front of a nowhere-to-hide camera.
He talks about how small, daily lifestyle changes – eating less, moving more, switching off from the daily thrum of life – add up to have a very big healing effect.
“I have noticed over the last 20 years that the little things we do can make a big difference,” says Dr Lipman, a pioneer in functional and integrative medicine.
His approach to health is holistic, personalised and preventative. Put simply, he considers health to be more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing.
The idea of making small, tailored lifestyle tweaks has struck a chord with people who simply don’t have the time – or often the money – to sign up for costly health and fitness regimes.
There has been a shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach to wellness, Dr Lipman says, quoting findings from tech giant Huawei and trend experts Stylus who predict that ‘micro’ will be the biggest wellness trend for 2020.
Huawei offers this definition: “Micro is an approach to wellness that focuses on making small, smart and simple adjustments to lifestyles with the help of the latest tech.”
If you’re looking for the latest tech to monitor your vitals, the Huawei Watch GT2 (from €199) has an impressive array of apps that will track everything from your sleep, stress levels, performance, breathing and recovery. Its makers also make much of the fact that it has a two-week battery.
Dr Lipman thinks wearable tech is a good idea – he uses a sleep tracker – and believes it can motivate and empower people when it comes to improving their health. “Good health will not come from the government; you have to take control of it yourself.”
However, he adds one important caveat. Anyone with obsessive or addictive tendencies should steer clear of wearable tech as they could become unhealthily obsessed with measuring and gauging their every moment, he warns.
If young people are looking to tech to improve their health, they are also starting to become increasingly aware of being immersed in a world awash with unhealthy food choices. Even so, Dr Lipman has noticed a worrying trend.
“The problems and health issues I used to see in people of 50 and 60, I’m now seeing them in 20- and 30-year-olds,” he says.
That, and the fact he is ageing himself (his first grandchild is due in March) have prompted him to focus on longevity in a new book which is due in the autumn.
The book will draw on his own health routine which he has honed over many years. He is a big fan of fasting and finds that he eats less as he grows older.
He has almost completely cut grains from his diet and starts the day with a coffee and MCT or coconut oil. Lunch is usually soup or a salad or a protein shake and dinner is some variation of the same.
But, says Dr Lipman, food is only one element of a healthy lifestyle. Here he gives his top five tips to help you take micro steps to better health:
- 1. “Think of moving your body rather than exercise. I move as much as I can throughout the day. All those little movements add up. You don’t have to go to the gym or join an exercise class to move.
- 2. “Learn some type of meditation practice or some kind of breathing technique. Shut out the outside for a period of time every day. Close the door and take time to chill out.
- 3. “Take sleep seriously. Sleep is when your body recovers, restores and recharges. It is an active process that detoxes the brain and restores the lymphatic system and protects against illness.
- 4. “Try to spend as much time as you can in nature. Go to a beach, a park, a forest. If you have a park nearby, go for a short walk there every day.
- 5. “Eat less. Eat dinner earlier and have breakfast later. Eat [all your food for the day] within eight to ten hours, says between 12pm and 8pm.”