Ep 99 – Dr. Axel Pflueger on Fighting Chronic Disease with Fitness

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“As a nephrologist, a kidney doctor, in the Mayo Clinic, you see primarily patients with advanced kidney disease at that time.  So, these were patients who needed kidney transplants or needed dialysis.  And again, the same thinking process started to happen by me, ‘why do we see these patients late on when the damage has been irreversibly done and they need an organ transplant or dialysis when the process started decades before?’” – Dr. Axel Pflueger

Dr. Axel Pflueger serves as the Medical Director of the Center of Comprehensive & Diagnostic Medicine in New York, NY and is a Clinical Instructor at New York University Langone Medical Center.  He is a trained cardiac surgeon, board-certified internist, and board-certified nephrologist with a PhD in Pharmacology.  He is a Fellow of the American Society of Nephrology and is a recognized international speaker on diabetes and kidney disease, and has an extensive research background in diabetes, kidney disease, vascular function, and oxidative stress.

While working at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Pflueger conducted multiple treatment trials and gained significant insights into treating patients with chronic diseases.  Through his clinical practice, Dr. Pflueger found that the most effective treatment protocols for chronic diseases involved early diagnosis and lifestyle therapy including exercise, diet, and sleep.  In 2016, Dr. Pflueger joined CrossFit, Inc. as they launched a global health initiative to fight chronic disease worldwide.

I caught up with Dr. Pflueger at the 2018 CrossFit Health Conference to learn more about his research and clinical findings supporting early intervention as the preferred treatment for chronic diseases, and how he believes conventional medicine and lifestyle therapy can work together to end this global epidemic.

(bio adapted from Center for Comprehensive & Diagnostic Medicine)

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dr. Pflueger’s diverse medical background and how his residency in cardiovascular surgery led to an interest in early intervention for chronic disease
  • What prompted him to specialize in nephrology
  • His preference to treat kidney disease with lifestyle therapy versus dialysis and transplants
  • The Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease Clinic at the Mayo Clinic which Dr. Pflueger founded
  • The effect of standard medications versus the effects of using exercise and lifestyle therapy in treating kidney disease
  • His search for an appropriate type of exercise for his patients, and how that led to his involvement with CrossFit
  • How Dr. Pflueger initiates the conversation on lifestyle therapy with his patients
  • How Dr. Pflueger partners with CrossFit affiliates to give coaches guidance for his patients
  • The importance of establishing a relationship with patients and the challenge of implementing this under the current insurance structure
  • Pflueger’s vision for how conventional medicine and lifestyle therapy can work together
  • Where he sees the CrossFit Health movement heading
  • How his own approach to health and fitness has changed since learning about CrossFit
  • His recommendations for affiliate owners and doctors who are interested implementing his approach
  • Three things Dr. Pflueger does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Dr. Pflueger


Related Episodes:

Ep 07 – Dr. Mark Hyman on Functional Medicine, the future, and community

Ep 80 – Greg Glassman on Networking CrossFit Physicians and Fighting Chronic Disease

Ep 86 – James Maskell on Fight Chronic Disease with Community-based Healthcare

Ep 93 – Debunking Nutrition Myths with Gary Taubes

Ep 96 – A Hospital Affiliate: Kirby Medical Center and CrossFit KMC

Ep 97 – Challenging Conventional Cancer Care with Dr. Thomas Seyfried

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

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Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.

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