By Jennifer Potestio
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. William Lee, Board Certified OB/GYN and Board Certified in Anti-Aging Medicine and Age Management Medicine, as well as being a Functional Medicine Specialist. Dr. Lee is the author of “Over 50 Feeling 30 – How to Get Your Body Back”, and will present a fascinating, free workshop at Park Meadows Pilates & Physical Therapy on Saturday, August 18th, 11 am- 1 pm.
In this brief interview, Dr. Lee shares some of his insights about health and youthful aging. We discussed differences in medical care, how to motivate patients to be vital and healthy, where to start with supplements, hormones, exercise, diet, and de-stressing. Some of this information surprised me and probably may surprise you too.
Q: You integrate conventional, functional and alternative medicine – can you explain the differences between these and why you got into functional and alternative medicine? What attracted you to functional & alternative medicine?
A: Conventional medicine is the traditional doctor out there treating patients. For example, the traditional doctor gives you a band-aid to put on your symptoms and they don’t get to the cause. Functional Medicine is trying to get to the cause. Functional Medicine is what I thought I would be learning in Medical School. It is when you look at a medical problem and ask where the biochemistry in the body went wrong. Then you find a nutritional means of correcting that particular biochemical error. By doing this you could possibly “cure the disease”.
Alternative Medicine is all of the different treatment modalities out there: Chiropractic, Osteopathic, Naturopathic, Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Micro-Current therapy, Nutrition, alternative means other than allopathic medication.
We need to provide our bodies with the correct environment and ingredients, and our body will do what it does best. Medicine in this country is fantastic…it is absolutely the best in the world, but the prevention is not.
Q: You talk about health requiring discipline. How do you motivate women and men to take charge of their own health?
A: Education and knowledge. My whole goal is to be a teacher, because if I can teach people why things are going wrong and what has to happen to correct it, then we are team mates. I am not there to tell them to eat this, and not that -- they have to make those decisions. Some of them are not easy decisions to make. Lifestyle is one of the hardest things to change.
I have to talk about these principles in a soft way; otherwise people will run away. What I really want to say is that these really are not options - they are requirements. If the goal is optimum health, I want to be at the top of my game. If that is the goal, these are the requirements.
What is nice about lab work is I can point to a number, this number should be 5.3 and you’re sitting here at 6.2. When they see their own numbers it is a wakeup call. This is knowledge.
Q: I like what you say, “We are not prisoners of our genetic destiny!” How can we get out of the mind-set of thinking we are our parents, or we are destined to be unhealthy?
A: What people do not talk too much about is that nobody cares about your health as much as you do. It is kind of like financial planning, and nobody cares about your money as much as you do. You can have the most dedicated financial planner in the world, but they are more concerned about what’s going on in their household than they are in your household.
Medicine is really no different. We try to make a great deal of effort to do the best for each individual. But nobody is going to know about you what you know about you. What is lacking in medicine today, is that there is no personal responsibility.
People must take personal responsibility for things to work the best. You cannot walk in at 300 pounds smoking and drinking, and expect a doctor to give you a pill to fix the things that are going wrong because of your lifestyle.
Think about heart disease. A patients says, “I have a family member with heart disease!” Only one cause of heart disease is genetic, so how about working on the other eleven things that got you here. If nutrition is the messenger to our DNA, we don’t have to turn on the bad gene that Uncle Henry had. You can definitely sway the outcome. There are tendencies and weak links to the chain, but we can work on these.
Q: If you were to recommend any supplements for general health, what would they be?
- Multi-Vitamin, with minerals and vitamins – [or blend Kale, spinach, and cucumber]
- Omega 3 – Fish Oil
- A Probiotic
- Vitamin D
Q: Anything else?
A: Exercise. We all have to take care of ourselves, and take time away.
Q: What are your recommendations for Exercise?
A: It depends who you are talking to. If I am talking to 2/3 of America, it is simply to get out of your chair and go for a walk. “They” are saying six days out of seven. For other patients, it might be three days of pumping iron/cardio in the gym, and in between days might be a walk. To pull this off it requires planning – good nutrition and exercise. We all have the same battle, so when I am talking to patients, I am not picking on them – exercise is not an option.
Q: Other tips for staying vital and healthy?
A: In the book, I talk about the 12 things that age us that you never hear your traditional doc talk about. Here are some examples of the 12:
- Oxidation – free radicals anti-oxidant
- Glycation – too much sugar
- Methylation – a mild genetic defect ½ the population has
- Lack of sleep
- Poor detoxification
- Lack of nutrition
- Lack of exercise
All of these things shape how we feel, how we function, and how sharp we are. The traditional medical doctor is not talking to people about these things because this is talking about prevention. The American model is you go get yourself a disease and the doc will treat the hell out of it. Nobody has come around yet to what we can do to do prevent the disease in the first place, and that is the niche I have stepped into.
I do not have all of the answers, but I have quite a few of them. If we pay attention to the above things, then we can put our bodies into a situation where it has the ability to function at its optimal level. This is different for everyone, but optimal is better than not.
If we put our bodies in the correct environment, nutrition, vitamins, minerals, hydration, sleep, stress reduction, we have a tremendous ability to heal. I like to say that we are robots, flesh and blood robots, and God gave us the ability to heal ourselves if the environment and ingredients are correct. We need to provide our bodies with the correct environment and ingredients, and our body will do what it does best. Once in awhile the robot is going to screw up and that is where the traditional doc can come in and do some marvelous things. Medicine in this country is fantastic…it is absolutely the best in the world, but the prevention is not.
The philosophy of the functional and alternative medicine world is prevention -- let’s not break it.
Traditional Medicine philosophy is – you break…it I’ll fix it.
Knowledge is power.
I’d like to thank Dr Lee for his time, and invite you to learn more about his integrative approach to medicine on August 18th at Park Meadows Pilates & Physical Therapy, 11 am – 1 pm. Space is limited: please register by visiting our website and clicking the “sign up for classes” tab – go to the “Workshop” link. Or call us at (303) 649-2165.