Overview of Charlie’s Healthy Lifestyle 2014 Video Series

Charles Harris in 1995

For years, I struggled with being overweight even though I believed I had a fairly healthy lifestyle. I ate good food and exercised regularly, but those 45 extra pounds seemed to stay with me no matter what I did. Then something happened … not any particular event, but just the sense that my energy level was declining. I started to think more about my health and developed a strong desire to figure it all out. I started to learn more about nutrition, digestion, metabolism, fat storage, and how to prevent chronic diseases. Maybe it was because I became more aware of my own mortality … maybe because I visualized rushing to the hospital in an ambulance after having a stroke or heart attack. At any rate, as time passed over the following years, I started studying biochemistry, energy metabolism, and cell biology … even quantum physics. Gradually, everything started to become clear. I began focusing on nutrition, balancing hormones, and timing meals and exercise properly. I could tell that I was starting to feel more energetic … starting to feel young again.

Charles’ Sister Courtney

I learned what my body really needed: better liver function, glucose and fat metabolism, hormone balance and communication, etc. The weight started to come off. I had more energy and stamina. I was amazed! I wanted to tell everyone, especially my younger sister Courtney (who had turned 60 last year). Courtney and I had worked closely for many years in my law practice flying together around the country in our plane. Often we commiserated about how to lose those stubborn extra pounds. I retired in 2000 and moved abroad. Courtney continued working as a busy executive for a Chamber of Commerce near San Francisco. Courtney, a loving wife of 40 years, mother of two, grand-mother of several, leads a stressful life balancing work and family. And, losing weight continues to be a challenge for her. We would talk over the phone about her latest efforts to get in shape. She talked about her latest “protein shake” diet. In response, I mentioned a little about what I was doing. Courtney joked, “If it works for me, it can work for anyone!” I promised to send her some information.

But, how could I share with her all my ideas? Since retiring, I had spent almost 14 years researching and experimenting on myself … coming up with what I started to call my healthy lifestyle. I decided there was too much information for a phone call. Moreover, I live far from her and there was so much detail about science, chemistry, etc. So, I decided I would make a video and try to explain everything … biology, cell function, and all, about what I had learned. Courtney always used to say, “Information is power.” So, with a Sony Handycam in hand (using one for the first time and feeling a bit awkward speaking to a lens), I set out to record that “information” and focus on health at the cellular level … hoping that focus would help her as much as it has helped me.

In all, the “information” took 12 hours of video. I attempted to provide a primer, a plan, a path to restore metabolic function at the cellular level. In the first video, I defined whole natural foods … explaining healthy fats, carbohydrates, and proteins as well as the phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals so important for cellular repair and enzyme production. I urged Courtney to avoid “plastic” refined products that line the supermarkets (which I called RCOs … refined carbohydrates and oils). I stressed how healthy foods contribute to a healthy lifestyle and how RCOs with their empty calories and hidden cargo of free radicals destroy cell function, hormone sensitivity, and our immune system.

While the first video focused on nutrition and energy, the second video focused on the importance of good clean water and healthy beverages. As our bodies are over 70% water, I explained why we need to understand and recognize pollutants and poisons in our water, not just in our drinking water, but in household water as well. Chemicals such as THMs, PPCPs, and EDCs mimic hormones in our body, disrupt cellular function, and injure our DNA. As one medical expert in the video warns us, “If you don’t filter your water, you become the filter.“

During the second video, I also talk about the necessity of exercise … “not just because it is important” but because it is “part of our being … how we function.” Our cells have evolved to cope with periods of starvation. To function properly, we have to experience going hungry some of the time and moving around while in a calorie restricted mode … hard to do with convenience stores at every corner. For a healthy metabolism (especially burning fat, etc.), one has to replicate the conditions which elicit the body’s “feast or famine” survival mechanisms. “If you do not, you won’t function properly,” I said. To make the point, I made the videos before breakfast as I swim by treading water in the deep end of the pool.

Glucagon (“GG” for short) … Like The Conductor of a Symphony

I came to believe that the body’s adaptation to survive the “feast or famine” periods comes down to two hormones – insulin and glucagon. I likened them to conductors of a symphony orchestra leading other hormones, messengers, and receptors to drive bodily functions and cell repair. The two work in tandem. I showed how insulin and glucagon (which I nicknamed “GG” to make it easier to remember) monitor the body’s energy requirements and how, if one can understand how to modulate them with food and exercise, one can stay fit and firm.

Modulating Insulin & Glucagon

In the third video, I went deeper into the function of the two hormones insulin and GG and tackled the whole concept of insulin resistance and its contribution to cellular dysfunction. I explained why high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (the so-called good cholesterol), high blood sugar, and a large waistline contribute to chronic diseases. These markers are called the “metabolic syndrome” and understanding how to avoid them is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

In the fourth video, I discussed why heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, and even cancer are all one disease with the same cause … cellular dysfunction and the foreseeable consequences of the metabolic syndrome. The time has come, I said, to stop referring to this or that disease just because it shows up in one particular part of the body. It all comes down to cell dysfunction throughout the whole body. Like an old house which has fallen into disrepair, we have to fix the whole house: the roof, doors, walls, ceiling, floors, electrical, plumbing, etc. The body is no different. We have to fix everything with a healthy lifestyle.

Taking high blood pressure as an example, I went step-by-step to show how lifestyle (diet and exercise) can prevent hypertension and all other chronic diseases. High blood pressure is easily measured and is a great “early warning system” for each of us. Why is blood pressure creeping up? Pity the heart as it struggles to contend with hardened, clogged, stiff “plastic” arteries, and excess fats and sugars in the blood. The heart raises the blood pressure just to keep the body alive. I analyzed how healthy foods (properly grown and prepared), good beverages, and exercise can prevent hypertension. I reviewed the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids and importance of Vitamin D & un-oxidized cholesterol. I talked about damage from oxidative stress and free radicals, the dangers of RCOs (refined carbohydrates & oils), hormone sensitivity, and staying fit and firm. One can lower triglycerides (TG), blood sugar, the number and size of LDL particles, and raise HDL levels. “Prevent inflammation and take care of your mitochondria by modulating insulin or GG with diet and exercise,” I said, and “One can maintain normal blood pressure and prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and all the other chronic diseases.”

In the fifth, sixth, and seventh videos, I discussed dozens and dozens of doctors, researchers, and professors who offer advice about nutrition, diet, exercise, healthy lifestyles, and how to prevent chronic diseases. The more I learned, the more I came away thinking there is remarkable consensus among these experts. In fact, most suggested a plant-based diet of whole natural foods and limited protein (whether plant or animal). Even Mark Sisson (of Paleo fame) said over the years he has greatly reduced his protein intake. And, whether one ate animal products or only plants, I think Dr. Colin Campbell said it best during a debate with Dr. Westman, “I am not going to quibble if one has some salmon now and then.” In the final analysis, almost everyone promoted a healthy lifestyle with whole natural foods, good water, healthy beverages, and daily activity. In the end, whether one follows a plant-based, Paleo, or traditional diet, it comes down to metabolic health, taking care of your energy balance and mitochondria, and avoiding RCOs.

In the final 7th video, I shared my own “healthy lifestyle,” including what I eat, drink, and how I exercise. Considering cancer prevention, I featured the benefits of modulating insulin and GG through intermittent fasting. I noted my increased energy, better lab results, and satisfaction with the wonderful foods and beverages I consume … “junk foods and sugary treats” no longer beckoned me.

Since I made the videos for my sister, I did not introduce myself. Nor do I promote or sell anything in the videos. Moreover, knowing that some family members and friends are vegetarian, I wanted the information to be beneficial to everyone, young or old, in high school or college, one religion or another, and whether or not they eat meat or only plants.

Twelve hours of videos? Well, it is practically a whole course in nutrition and preventive medicine. Editing the final series, I decided to divide the whole presentation into seven videos … hoping Courtney might watch one a day and complete the series in a week (hope springs eternal). Like so many others, she is still trying to find the time to take this important first step in learning about a healthy lifestyle. The seven videos condense thousands and thousands of hours spanning years of research about fitness and lifestyle. I also urged Courtney to watch all the experts’ videos I reviewed so that she could hear their opinions and lifestyle choices in greater detail.

Charles Harris, J.D.

While my own lifestyle follows a more traditional diet, I highlight Dr. Esselstyn, M.D. and his plant-based lifestyle. I urge everyone to watch his video (the first expert in my 5th video) since he elevates fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes to the importance they deserve and because, in my opinion, he made one very important point better than anyone else – that one can avoid chronic diseases completely if one follows a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Esselstyn’s message is almost unbelievable – that we can “choose” to be healthy. It is probably one of the hardest ideas to believe, but now I believe it, too.

1/7: How A Healthy Lifestyle Will Improve Metabolism, Lose Weight, and Get In Shape

In the first video, Charles shares what he has learned over the last 4 or 5 years about a healthy lifestyle, discussing such topics as whole & natural foods, nutrition, natural foods vs. refined products, enzymes, fermentation, and industrial oils … focusing on health at the cellular level.

2/7: How Good Clean Water, Healthy Beverages, and Regular Exercise Can Help Restore Metabolic Health

In the second video, Charles shares information he has learned over the past 4 or 5 years about a healthy lifestyle, discussing such topics as water quality, healthy beverages, exercise & metabolism during feast or famine … focusing on health at the cellular level.

3/7: How To Balance Your Hormones With a Healthy Lifestyle and Prevent Insulin Resistance

In the third video, Charles shares information about diet, hormones & insulin resistance … focusing on health at the cellular level.


4/7: How to Prevent Hypertension, Heart Disease, Diabetes, & Cancer With a Healthy Lifestyle

In the fourth video, Charles shares what he has learned over the last 4 or 5 years about a healthy lifestyle, discussing such topics as cell dysfunction and how to prevent chronic diseases such as high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s & cancer … focusing on health at the cellular level.

 5/7: Plant-Based, Paleo, Traditional Diets? How To Choose a Healthy Lifestyle

In the fifth video, Charles shares what he has learned over the last 4 or 5 years about a healthy lifestyle, reviewing various experts who promote the plant-based diet, the Paleo diet, the GAPS diet, and the Traditional Foods diet … and how such choices affect ones health at the cellular level.

6/7: Experts Explain How to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s & Cancer

In the sixth video, Charles shares what he has learned over the last 4 or 5 years about a healthy lifestyle, reviewing various experts who discuss how to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and how to understand the role of cholesterol, Statins,

7/7: Using Intermittent Fasting for Cellular Repair & Prevention of Cancer and Other Chronic Diseses

In the seventh video, Charles shares what he has learned over the last 4 or 5 years about a healthy lifestyle, reviewing various experts who discuss intermittent fasting, cell repair, the Ketogenic diet, and therapeutic Ketosis. Finally, Charles talks about his own efforts to rejuvenate himself, restore metabolic function and lose weight.