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What the health? Doctor prescribes tips for wellness in his new book

UPDATED: Wed., May 20, 2020

“Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat … college.” – Annie Hall

What Woody Allen’s character Alvy Singer uttered in his Academy Award-winning film is relatable since so much of what we believe is healthy has actually been deemed harmful for us. What should we consume? Are eggs essential, or are they cholesterol bombs? Does coffee help ward off ailments or cause the jitters? What activities should we engage in?

Dr. Gregory Charlop has much of it covered in his new book “Why Doctors Skip Breakfast: Wellness Tips to Reverse Aging, Treat Depression, and Get a Good Night’s Sleep.”

Charlop, 45, an anesthesiologist and expert in wellness and nutrition, details why fasting is healthy and reveals what those with longevity have in common and what we should absolutely not skimp on in order to be at our best.

Most of us grew up with the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What’s with doctor’s skipping breakfast?

The concept that breakfast is the most important meal of the day came from Dr. (John Harvey) Kellogg, who invented corn flakes. He was a doctor, but he was also a brilliant marketer! He made a big deal out of breakfast so people would buy his cereal 100 years ago. But modern research indicates that we don’t need breakfast, especially the sugary kind of food that is often for breakfast, and that fasting is good for you in so many ways. If you can go 16 hours between meals, you’ll be fine.

But that means set times for meals are out the door.

If you have dinner Monday at 6 p.m., then you can have lunch at noon. I understand it’s not ideal for everyone since some people like to eat with colleagues in the morning or families have a dinner at 6 p.m. every night.

Considering how on the go, pre-coronavirus, everyone was, it’s more feasible since busy families tend to be running everywhere.

That’s true, but it’s not so much about when you eat. My dad loves breakfast, but that’s his big meal of the day. If you fast for much of the rest of the day, you’re good.

So fasting is better for your body than say the paleo diet?

Yes. And people who fast lose weight easier. You’re consuming less calories. If you eat less and exercise more, you’ll have more energy. Regarding paleo, one of the reasons people do the paleo diet is to increase their ketone levels. A high level of ketones are good for your brain. Instead of going paleo, you can drink ketones. You can order ketone esters on Amazon.

Will fasting prolong your life?

Every indication indicates that fasting will give you a longer life span.

You have 7-year-old twins. Would you recommend that children, who are obviously developing, fast?

Children should not be fasting. Children are one of two groups who shouldn’t fast. The other group is professional athletes who need to consume.

Were you a typical child when it came to nutrition?

No. I remember being at a birthday party when I was 9 at a skating rink. I refused to eat the birthday cake. I knew that I already had too much sugar. My parents couldn’t believe this! I didn’t like sugar! When I was 10, I got into a debate with my school principal about artificial sweeteners. I told him it was like eating poison.

What do we know now about aging that we didn’t know in the past?

Thanks to groundbreaking research from Harvard and USC, we understand what causes us to age and how we can reverse aging. My book tells you what foods, medicine and lab tests you need to take to look and feel great. What we thought was that the body gradually decays. We were right about certain things, such as smoking definitely shortens your time. But in terms of aging, there are certain factors. There are zombie cells. You develop those as you get older. You have more of those because of your diet, but you can get rid of those with the right supplements. Another important factor is telomeres, which are structures at the end of a chromosome. Shorter telomeres are markers for old cells. You can do things to prevent the shortening telomeres, and you can lengthen them.

What can we do to lengthen them?

Meditation can lengthen them. I discovered that the common denominator between many successful people and those who live a long life is they meditate. It’s very good for the mind and body.

There are two schools of thought on sleep. There’s the notion that seven to eight hours a night is necessary. And then there are those who insist that as little sleep as possible is what drives them. I have a friend who boasts about how much he accomplishes by sleeping four hours a night, but it sounds like he’s killing himself slowly. Proper rest seems essential. What should we do about sleep?

You hit the nail on the head regarding sleep. It is critical for people to get enough sleep. We all need seven to eight hours a night. People who wear lack of sleep as a badge of honor are fooling themselves. Getting enough sleep isn’t just important for humans but also for animals.

Aside from the obvious, what are the negative effects of lack of sleep?

Sleep deprivation increases the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Sleep deprivation also ages a person and causes depression. Your friend is slowly killing himself.

How harmful is soda consumption?

Soda is pretty poisonous. If you have just one can of soda a day, it increases your risk of death. That’s so for regular and diet soda.

Diet soda is full of chemicals, which obviously are bad for you. What’s another reason to avoid diet pop?

The artificial sweetener causes your brain to crave sugar. You might drink a diet soda and shortly thereafter have an overwhelming desire to eat a pie. Artificial sweeteners and sugar cause obesity.

Sparkling water is a good substitute for soda, which takes us to what can we drink during a 16-hour fast.

You can certainly drink sparkling water, chamomile tea and coffee. Black coffee is very good for you.

That’s interesting since coffee was like the egg since years ago the question was if caffeinated coffee was harmful.

Black coffee is very healthy. Coffee reduces the chances of getting Parkinson’s disease and certain types of cancers. It decreases the risk of auto-immune deficiency.

What else should we add to our diet?

Herbs and spices, such as turmeric, oregano and garlic. Add it to your food. It adds flavor and is so good for your body. Also, olive oil is very good for you. So get enough sleep, fast, and enjoy moderate exercise.

So does that mean that extreme exercise, such as running a marathon, is bad for us?

Running a marathon doesn’t lengthen our lives. It shortens our life. Our ancestors didn’t run marathons. There was a reason for that.

How do we deal with depression?

Ketamine with good diet and lifestyle choices are the ways to deal with depression. Oral antidepressants aren’t very effective.

So we can alter the course of our lives.

You control your own destiny. If you alter what you do, you can change your mind and body for the better.

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