Spent- End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again
By Frank Lipman, MD, with Mollie Doyle
Fireside (Simon and Schuster) 2009
I first learned of this book through Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, of Innovative Healing (and author of Digestive Health, among other books) while participating in a teleseminar through her Access to Health Experts, in January of this year. This is one of those books that provides excellent insight and ideas but suffers from serious problems in the area of dietary advice.
The author, Dr. Frank Lipman, is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. He attended medical school in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he grew up. Recognizing some deficiencies in his Western training, he went on to study traditional Chinese medicine and functional medicine. Experimenting on himself, he has developed what he describes as a comprehensive system for getting people back into the rhythm of their lives.
The premise is that “each of us comes into the world endowed with essential energy” and that “we are meant to supplement this original endowment of energy with what we can manufacture from eating, breathing, sleeping, learning, working, playing and relationships” (page 6). If we make more withdrawals than deposits, this energy account becomes tapped out, and we find ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. This is the syndrome of Spent.
The process of restoring the body’s balance is a multifaceted six-week program of what Lipman calls Daily Beats, which includes sleep, diet, exercise, supplements, meditation, and relaxation along with a “pulse” section that is meant to help integrate each suggestion into your daily life.
Dr. Lipman discusses diet as one of the key factors of restoration. And some of his advice is very good. Not an advocate of calorie-counting or portion control, he recommends eating delicious, high-quality food. Grass-fed meat, free-range poultry, and organic eggs as well as low-mercury, wild fish are on the shopping list, along with loads of vegetables and many fruits.
Unfortunately, his list of recommended fats is limited to coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil along with sesame oil or toasted sesame oil as an option for occasional stir-fries. There is no mention of the key role played by the fat-soluble activators, vitamins A and D, in adrenal health, and the need for grass-fed butter, cod liver oil, and other animal fats to provide these key nutrients.
Lipman is big on smoothies as he feels they rest the digestion as well as offer convenience as a breakfast food. But instead of cream, yogurt or kefir as a base, he makes almond milk his first choice for a base, but he does also suggest coconut water, either fresh or in aseptic packages. Flaxseed oil or coconut oil is also a recommended addition.
New for me was the concept of using avocado instead of banana as a smoothie ingredient, in order to cut down on the sugar content and add good fat while imparting a creamy texture. I recently tried this, and even though it doesn’t do much for the color of the concoction, I declare it delicious!
I think we would all agree with his list of poisonous ingredients to be avoided in industrial foods: partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats and oils; artificial sweeteners; high fructose corn syrup and other refined sugars; sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate; MSG, sulfites, potassium bromate, preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial fats (such as Olestra).
Lipman recommends avoidance of most processed foods. Among the shopping guidelines is this practical advice: “If you do buy food in a box, choose one with five ingredients or fewer, none you can’t pronounce and no cartoon characters.”
On page 145, Dr. Lipman cautions against the use of unfermented soy, citing the Weston A. Price Foundation as a good source of information on soy dangers.
Although he does not consider cow’s milk to be a great food for adult human beings (using the old cow’s-milk-is-for-cow’s-babies argument), he does discuss the hazards of pasteurization and homogenization and suggests trying raw milk for those who cannot give it up. And he again refers to the WAPF website for more info.
Lipman promotes sheep’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses as being much easier to digest while supplying the same nutritional benefits. I personally would like to see more emphasis on raw butter by the slab and raw cream by the glassful, as I found them to be such important contributors to my own healing from adrenal fatigue years ago.
There is some discussion of leaky gut syndrome, but he apparently isn’t aware of or doesn’t buy into bone broth or stock as a healing substance, as all of the soup recipes in the book call for vegetable stock. This, of course, could be easily modified. He makes link with antibiotics causing a disruption of the internal ecosystem is made, but does not introduce the topic of corrective probiotics until sometime later in the book.
There are other serious departures from WAPF principles that I noted, in that he says nuts should be bought raw and unsalted and can be slow-roasted at home. He makes no mention of enzyme inhibitors or the need for soaking and dehydrating. Nor did I see any instructions for properly preparing the gluten-free grains he includes in his diet protocol. He advocates adding whey protein to smoothies, although stressing that it should come from cows that grazed on pesticide- and chemical-free grass. And he is a huge fan of super greens powder to add the essential vitamins and nutrients to the diet.
Even with the flaws in dietary advice, this book is truly a treasure trove. It is absolutely loaded with step-by-step, practical advice, from breathing techniques to cleaning out your medicine cabinet. It also includes information on functional testing, how to set up a proper sleep environment, balancing your hormones, and lots more.
This book also offers inspiration, such as introducing readers to the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, a worldview that sees all of humankind as interconnected. By encouraging us to seek meaning in life we find the ultimate way to heal and replenish ourselves.
So while we have given this book a Thumbs Down, it is still recommended for its comprehensive, supportive, integrative, user-friendly advice for recovering from exhaustion. Hopefully in a future edition Lipman will make the necessary corrections and additions so we can give this book a very enthusiastic Thumbs Up.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2009.