Wellness Tips from Anti-Aging Physician

April 6, 2020

Dr. Gregory Charlop

Perhaps best-known for his work as an anesthesiologist. Dr. Gregory Charlop is one of the most sought-after physicians in California.

After training at Stanford and UCLA, Dr. Charlop built a career attending to some of the most complex patients in the San Francisco area. He’s spent years on the front lines of healthcare, treating adults and children with uncontrolled pain and complicated medical issues.

Dr. Charlop is an authority in wellness and advanced nutrition, and is now sharing his expertise with the world. His new book is called, Why Doctors Skip Breakfast: Wellness Tips to Reverse Aging, Treat Depression, and Get a Good Night’s Sleep. The book provides information on managing chronic disease and pain, how to look your best, and maximize your performance no matter what age you are. Salonpas sat down with Dr. Charlop to learn more:

What was your catalyst to write your new book “Why Doctors Skip Breakfast: Wellness Tips to Reverse Aging, Treat Depression, and Get a Good Night’s Sleep”?

My parents love telling a story from when I was nine. A bunch of my friends and I were at a birthday party at a bowling alley. When it was time to blow out the candles, we refused to eat the cake because we thought it was unhealthy! What crazy nine-year-old doesn’t want sugar?! 

From a young age, I wasn’t afraid to challenge conventional wisdom about health. Now that I’m a physician, I study wellness and nutrition every day. 

Some months ago, I took a look around and realized that almost all the doctors I work with (myself included) skip breakfast. But outside of the hospital, I see people eating cereal all over the place. It made me realize that there’s this massive disconnect between what doctors know about longevity and what everyone else is told.

People keep saying that breakfast is the most important meal. We keep hearing that we should have many small meals throughout the day. It’s all hogwash.  Doctors know better. It’s time we teach the general public how they can take charge of their health.

Can we really prevent/slow down aging?

Yes! It turns out that we’ve fundamentally misunderstood what aging is all about. Scientists at Harvard, UCLA, and MIT recently discovered that aging isn’t the gradual accumulation of wear and tear on our bodies and DNA. We aren’t slowly decaying.

Rather, aging is caused by a series of discrete and reversible events. 

  • With age, our bodies accumulate zombie (senescent) cells. These rogue cells trigger inflammation and poison their neighbors. 
  • Some of our older cells mistakenly switch off good genes and turn on unhealthy genes. These epigenetic changes don’t damage our DNA; instead, they cause your cells to read the wrong segments of DNA and make faulty proteins.
  • Our chromosomes have little protective caps called telomeres. Telomeres are similar to the plastic bits at the end of shoelaces that protect them from unraveling. Over time, telomeres can shrink and age the cell.

The big news is that we can prevent and even reverse all three primary causes of aging. Why Doctors Skip Breakfast shows you how.

What are your top five wellness tips and techniques that you believe slow down aging?

  1. Intermittent fasting. Of all the dietary interventions we’ve tried with animals, fasting is the only one that dramatically increases their lifespan. 
  2. Get enough sleep. Everyone needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you think you need less, you’re wrong.
  3. Eat more natural flavors like oregano, garlic, dark chocolate, coffee, and turmeric. These tasty treats are rich with antioxidants and nutrients that will keep you healthy and reverse aging.
  4. Avoid sugar. Sugar triggers all three causes of aging. Instead of sugary snacks, enjoy whole fruit, dark chocolate, and high-fat foods like nuts and cream.
  5. Practice mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude. They reduce stress and inflammation. Believe it or not, meditation makes your cells younger by lengthening your telomeres!

What recommendations do you offer people who suffer from insomnia?

  • Keep your lights dim in the evening. Avoid bright white or blue LED lights. Try using some red or yellow night lights within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Go to bed and wake up the same time each day
  • Keep your bedroom dark and COOL. Don’t sleep in a warm room!
  • Avoid alcohol, exercise, cigarettes, or large meals within 3-4 hours of bedtime. No coffee after 11 am.
  • Don’t use cell phones or computers within an hour or two of bedtime. If you must use them, keep the screens dim and as far from your face as possible.
  • Expose yourself to at least 20 minutes of morning sunlight every day. It will help set your internal clock.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine that works for you. Try a warm bath, paperback book, meditation, and calming music.
  • Consider using low-dose (1 mg or less) of high-quality melatonin an hour or two before bedtime.

What is your advice for people who are suffering from depression?

Seek professional help! Unfortunately, well-meaning friends and family often tell you that you’re okay and nothing is wrong. If you have depression, you need medical care.The trouble is that most oral antidepressant pills don’t work well. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is helpful for some people.

If you didn’t improve with antidepressants, I recommend you speak to an expert about ketamine treatment. Ketamine can cure depression, even when other treatments have failed. Amazingly, ketamine can start to make you feel better in less than the time it takes to watch Star Wars.

Are you a proponent of Intermittent Fasting? What are the benefits? Is there anyone who shouldn’t do it?

Absolutely! Intermittent fasting will help you live longer, period. It is anti-aging, prevents autoimmune diseases, helps with weight loss, and will boost your brainpower. Fasting even appears to protect against some types of cancer. 

There are several ways to fast. The most common is fasting for 16-18 hours per day. You still need to get all your required nutrients. Make sure that you eat enough veggies, fat, and protein during your eating window. The goal is to fast, not to be malnourished.

Professional athletes should not fast since they already struggle to eat enough calories. I don’t recommend children fast since they’re still growing. Anyone with diabetes, low body weight, or any complex medical condition should consult with their doctor before fasting.

The CDC is recommending people try topicals before pills. What is your point of view on topical analgesics – either OTC or prescription – as the first line of defense to address pain?

I’m an anesthesiologist, so pain management is my specialty. In my view, most people should do whatever they can to avoid taking narcotics. Sadly, we doctors contributed to the opioid crisis by prescribing far too many pain pills. We need to look for other options.

NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen are great for short-term use. Unfortunately, long-term use of these powerful medications can cause severe bleeding, stroke, asthma attacks, and kidney failure. These drugs kill around 16,000 people per year.

Effective topical analgesics are the holy grail of pain management. They treat many types of pain without side effects. Topical analgesics often reduce or eliminate the need to take pain pills. Topical pain treatments save lives and prevent addiction.

Describe a typical day in your life; from when you arise to when you retire.

I’ve always been an early bird, so I’m up by 4:30 to write. I do my best work in the quiet of the morning. Since I fast, I’ll start the day with a black coffee or sparkling water. We keep a few cases of iced coffee and LaCroix in the fridge!

I work most days in Beverly Hills, taking care of celebrities, athletes, or executives. They fly in from all over the country for plastic surgery or wellness consultations. I love meeting these high-performers and exchanging tips for success and health. 

Exercise is the foundation of good health, so I hit the gym regularly. I mix cardio and weights. I tell you, YouTube is a lifesaver when it comes to the treadmill!

I’ll do my best to finish dinner by 6. I’m a pescatarian, so most meals are loaded with veggies, fruit, and some fish. Lately, I’ve been gorging on almond butter and frozen blueberries. 

Reading with the kids before bed is my favorite part of the day. I rush them to bed by eight, and I’m asleep by nine. Boring, I know!