Gary R. Epler, M.D.

Internationally Known Harvard Medical School Professor

Health Practices

You Gotta Love Life. Life is to be enjoyed. Adopt the attitude that it’s going to be a great day filled with new experiences, meeting new people, and seeing friends. Start the day with gratitude for the opportunity to have an exciting day. The meaning of life is the experience of living life. It’s the experience of being alive that counts. 

Nutrition Is a Lifestyle, Not a Diet. A healthy nutrition lifestyle means eating the right food, in the right amount, at the right time, and preparing the food in a healthy manner. More than 90 percent of the food we eat can be harmful. These foods have added sugar, added salt, too much saturated fat, and too much processed omega-6 fat. There’s not enough omega-3 fat and not enough fiber. Harmful foods cause inflammation throughout the body and the arteries, resulting in heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and cancer. Eat foods with no added sugar, no added salt, and no added omega-6. It’s not a diet. It’s a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep: You Need Eight Hours. Sleep eight hours every day. Eight hours are required to restore the brain energy chemical called adenosine that becomes depleted during the day’s activities. The entire eight hours is also needed because the required amount of REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep is obtained during the last two hours. A mid-day nap for 15 minutes or less can be effective while longer than 15 minutes will lead to sleep inefficiency during the night. 

Exercise: You Might Meet Your Spouse. There are more than 100 positive reasons for one hour of daily exercise. The top three include exercise gives you energy, decreases stress, and produces feel-good neuro-transmitters and hormones. And, randomly, you might meet your spouse. One hour of continuous exercise every day will give you the energy needed to get through the day. Exercising together in a group class such as spinning, body pump, or dance produces oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Numerous studies have proven that exercise reduces stress, increases conditioning, and improves concentration. Exercise makes you feel better.

Learn Something New for a Creative Life. Learn something new every day. This will create energy and make life more interesting and enjoyable. Learning keeps the mind young. Learn about random topics, the farther away from daily routines, the better.

Alpha-Brainwave Meditation Time. Engage in alpha-brainwave time every day. What’s alpha-brainwave time? Daydreaming. Meditation. There are several brainwave states from our waking state to deep sleep. Learning to be in the alpha-brainwave state while awake will result in many benefits. Everyone has experienced these alpha brainwaves while awake and give a feeling of calm. Benefits include the release of the feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones, balancing the different realms of the brain, strengthening mirror neurons, and increasing the lifespan of telomeres at the end of the chromosomes.

Compassion for Peace of Mind. Have compassion for yourself. Have compassion for others. Compassion is a wonderful word. Tibetan monks meditate by repeating this word over and over for hours, months, and years. You can feel their warmth and kindness being in their presence. Compassion can combat negative emotions in yourself and from outside sources. High self-esteem is only helpful when everything is going well and disappears during bad times. But, compassion for yourself always works when people hit rock-bottom.

Gratitude. Being grateful creates a wonderful feeling. It instantly makes people feel good. A conscious focus on blessings can have emotional and interpersonal benefits. People have improved well-being, optimism about the future, fewer physical symptoms, and positive connection with others. See the good in all things for an improved outlook.

You Can Learn Self-Healing. Healing is a state of mind. It’s restoring physical health from injury or disease and restoring mental and emotional health. It’s using your mind to manage injury or disease. Approach the situation in a positive manner and have compassion for the dysfunctional organ system. Use visualization. Take advantage of the placebo effect and discard the nocebo effect. Learn to manage chronic stress as part of the healing process. Avoid the flight-or-fight response and embrace the stay-and-play response. 

Be Your True Self. People need to be themselves. It’s freedom. It’s freedom from reacting to criticism, freedom from blaming others, freedom from making excuses, and freedom from bad decisions. A major component of the journey of discovery is forgetting about past failures and developing neuropathways to eliminate them from conscious thinking. Recruit the subconscious mind.