What is Integrative and Functional Medicine?
This means Dr. Lipman recommends conventional medicine when appropriate, but also embraces complementary approaches, e.g. acupuncture, nutrition, supplements, herbs, bodywork, stress reduction, yoga and meditation. He always takes into account the patient’s belief systems, attitudes, feelings, social relationships and environment, and looks at their patterns of eating, working, resting, sleeping and exercising, focusing on the body’s ability to heal itself.
As a Health Coach at his office, I sit in with his new patients and listen to everything he recommends for their healing – whether it’s dietary changes, acupuncture, chiropractic work, or adding in supplements, I hear it all. We work together to help patients embark on a new healing plan depending on their unique situation. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize how incredible it is that I get to learn directly from Dr. Lipman and see the results patients experience from implementing his recommendations.
This whole experience has seriously changed the way I look at supplements. I used to be on the train of “you can get everything from food, why would you need supplements?” I never thought I’d be recommending supplements. But after seeing how much better patients feel with certain supplements added in, and getting my own bloodwork done, seeing my deficiencies and experiencing how much better I feel with certain supplements…I can now speak about it with so much more wisdom and experience under my belt.
Why might someone need supplements? While I completely believe there is a lot of truth to being able to get everything you need from food, even those of us with the “healthiest” of diets may be experiencing deficiencies that could be affecting our cellular function for optimal health. Much of our food (especially in America) is nutritionally dead, and comes from soil that’s depleted of nutrients. So in reality, many people are actually overfed but starving of nutrients.
The drugs and medications we’ve been on throughout our lives can also have an impact. Antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs, recreational drugs, and whatever other substances we’ve consumed in the past (or are currently taking), along with our food and lifestyle choices throughout our lives, can have a huge impact on our digestive system, our level of stress and fatigue, and our essential nutrient levels. What I’ve learned at Dr. Lipman’s is that there are vitamins and herbs that can support us in living more optimally.
Please remember: every person is unique and may or may not need/want/benefit from supplements. I am definitely not recommending that everyone across the board hop on the supplement train with me. :) That being said, here are some supplements I see used the most frequently with patients in Dr. Lipman’s practice:
Vitamin D3: I’ve learned that so many people (including myself) are Vitamin D deficient!! Vitamin D supports the immune system, fights inflammation and fatigue, promotes cancer-fighting activity, and is super important for depression. According to Dr. Lipman, Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to play a role in almost every major disease.
How much to take? Get your blood levels checked – the ideal for optimal health is between 50-80 ng/ml.
Dr Lipman recommends the following: if you’re under 30 ng/ml, take 10,000 IU of D3 per day. If your level is 30-45 ng/ml, take 5,000 IU of D3 per day, and if it’s above 45 ng/ml, take 2,000 IU for maintenance. (All of this should be done under a doctor’s supervision, and get your levels checked again after 3 months).
Probiotics: Probitoics are important for digestive health (especially if you’ve ever taken antibiotics), and they are extremely important for the immune system. A dysbiosis in the gut is often a major cause of immune supression, which probiotics can help regulate. Probiotics will add beneficial bacteria to your gut, warding off sickness. Take a probiotic with at least 20 billion live organisms. A lot of our patients love adding the probiotic powder to smoothies.
Fish Oils: Fish oils support the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, contribute to healthier joints, improved vision, metabolism, can improve skin, hair, and nails, as well as cognitive functions like thinking power, attention, mood and memory. (As a side note, while I was studying at Integrative Nutrition, I learned about “the Orgasmic Diet” which includes a high dose of fish oils to improve libido. Just saying).
Adaptogenic Herbs: Our office is in Manhattan, so you can probably guess how many people we see that are stressed, fatigued, and just totally run-down. So many people (not just New Yorkers!) are constantly self-medicating with caffeine, sugar, anxiety drugs, sleeping pills, ADD medications, and more just to get through a busy day. It’s a crazy cycle that leaves us totally exhausting our adrenal system (our body’s ability to respond to stress). Adaptogens can rejuvenate the adrenal system and promote healthy regulation of cortisol (the “stress hormone”). This can mean better energy levels, less stress, improved attention span and more. They are called adaptogens because they adapt their function according to your body’s needs. The ones we use at Dr. Lipman’s office contain Eluthero, Ginseng, Ashwaganda and Rhodiola.
Cleanse/Detox/Elimination Diet: Dr. Lipman’s cleanse is much different from what you generally probably think of as a cleanse. You still eat real meals! For 14 days, we just focus on an elimination diet – removing the foods that generally trigger inflammation in the body or that people commonly have sensitivities to. Check out the “allowed foods” list here. In addition to removing foods that can be harmful to the body, we add in shakes and supplements that clean out the gut. The shake powder includes fiber and detoxing herbs for the liver. The supplements are GI Herbal, which is an herbal anti-microbial for the gut that kills any bad bacteria, and a digestive enzyme, which helps with gas/bloating and proper food absorption to further clean up your digestive process. When people come off of the 14 days, they usually experience more energy, weight loss (depending on their diet before the cleanse) and often radically improved digestion. Learn more about the cleanse.
These are just a few of the supplements we work with daily at Dr. Lipman’s office. You can check out the rest of the Be Well supplements here. Whew! I know that’s a lot of information at once, but people ask me about it so often that I knew I needed to put this little guide together. Deciding if supplements are a good idea for you or which ones to take can be confusing, so if you have any questions about any of them, I am happy to answer. Contact me!