Follow these 5 simple rules to improve your health – body, mind, and spirit.

By Dr. Frank Lipman and Danielle Claro

5-new-health-rules300Part of the goal in taking responsibility for your health is getting to know yourself better. Not just the aches and pains, but also the peaks and triumphs. These rules are for you, whether you’re a meat-eater or a vegan, whether you’re an athlete or are just now getting inspired to commit to an exercise routine. It’s about the whole self – body, mind, and spirit – and the habits and routines that make all three thrive. But it’s also about the individual. Everybody’s different, and getting familiar with your own specific body, mind, and spirit is just as important as the rules are.

Buy These Every Week

  • Dark Leafy Greens. More nutritious, calorie for calorie, than any other food
  • Cruciferous Veggies. Lower the risk of cancer
  • Avocados. Help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, and certain degenerative diseases
  • Blueberries. Help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, ulcers, and high blood pressure
  • Eggs. Full of protein and good fats
  • Walnuts. Packed with omega-3s and other nutrients that help protect your heart

Eat Smallish Fish, Not Big Fish

The bigger and older the fish, the more mercury it’s likely to contain. Why is there mercury in fish at all? Power plants that burn coal release mercury into the air, which settles in the water. Tiny plankton absorb it. The plankton are eaten by little fish. The little fish are eaten by big fish. Mercury for everyone. Stay away from really big fish like swordfish and tuna and think more along the lines of wild flounder and salmon. Mercury not only messes with your body’s ability to energize cells and hold on to certain important minerals, but is also linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Really tiny fish, like black cod (also called sable), canned sardines, and anchovies, are lowest in mercury, so eat them freely. To find BPA-free canned fish (and fish that’s also low in mercury), go to

Sorry, Red Wine Is Not Medicinal

You’ve probably heard that one glass of red wine a day is good for your body. The reason is it gives you a bit of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Don’t shoot the messenger, but the truth is that the amount of resveratrol supplied by a glass of wine (1 milligram) is not significant (if a glass contained 5 milligrams, that would be a different story). Alcohol is liquid sugar. It’s more depleting than restorative. To feel your best, you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol every day – even red wine.

Get 15 Minutes of Sunshine a Day

Your body needs vitamin D, which comes from the sun, to protect it from all sorts of diseases, including many types of cancer. Most of us get only about half the vitamin D we need. Get out in the sun, arms and legs exposed (weather permitting) for 15 minutes every day, no sunscreen. It’ll do wonders for your mood and energy level, too.

Do Something You Love for at Least 10 Minutes a Day

It’s incredibly powerful and healing. We all think we don’t have time, but most of us can find it somewhere (maybe in the time we spend online – just a guess). It doesn’t have to be a big deal: shoot hoops in the driveway; sketch something on the bus home; blast music and dance around the living room; pick up an instrument and play three pieces. Do it on purpose, like taking a supplement.

This article was excerpted with permission from The New Health Rules by Frank Lipman, M.D. and Danielle Claro (Artisan Books, Copyright © 2014). Photograph by Gentl & Hyers.

Frank Lipman, M.D., is a pioneer and global leader in the field of health and functional medicine. In 1992, he founded New York City’s Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, where his brand of healing has helped thousands reclaim their zest for life.

Danielle Claro is a writer, editor, and long-time yogi who was founding editor-in-chief of the indie magazine Breathe and special projects director at Domino magazine. She’s currently deputy editor of Real Simple.