August 01, 2023

Why Dr. Kurt Hong, Leading Expert in Proactive Care, Joined Lifeforce

photo of Jordan Shakeshaft

Written By

Jordan Shakeshaft

photo of Vinita Tandon, MD

Medically Reviewed By

Vinita Tandon, MD

Lifeforce Medical Director

Why Dr. Kurt Hong, Leading Expert in Proactive Care, Joined Lifeforce

It was the fourth call this year from a company offering a big job in the big and buzzy space of personalized medicine. Dr. Kurt Hong, MD, PhD, hung up the phone and told his wife, “It's about time this company existed."

Dr. Hong was referring to Lifeforce, the first clinically integrated proactive care platform empowering people to think clearer, feel stronger, and live longer. And today, Dr. Hong is proud to call himself its Chief Medical Officer. “People need a single team using one set of data and a comprehensive toolkit,” says Dr. Hong. “I know from my clinical practice how important that is. And Lifeforce delivers on that promise, all while standing for quality and results.” 

Double board certified in internal medicine and clinical nutrition, and one of the world’s leading experts in proactive care, Dr. Hong specializes in treating patients with obesity, metabolic disease, and other age-related nutritional disorders. He is a Professor of Clinical Medicine and the Executive Director of the Center for Clinical Nutrition and Applied Health Research at University of Southern California. He has also been deeply involved in metabolic disease research for 20 years. 

“There was no person better suited for the job,” says Lifeforce Co-Founder and CEO Dugal Bain-Kim. “As an MD and PhD with an active clinical practice, Dr. Kurt Hong has a rare mix of research depth coupled with hands-on care delivery.”  

Even with all this on his plate, Dr. Hong’s patients will always be his top priority. “I ask my patients, ‘Tell me how I can help you,’ instead of jumping right in and saying, ‘These are the 20 things I need to treat you for.’ If we can shift our focus to listening to the patient, we as physicians will feel better about what we’re doing and the patient will feel more in charge of their health.” 

We asked Dr. Hong more about his patient-first philosophy and how he takes charge of his own wellness journey. (Even a top doctor has goals he’s working toward!) Read on to learn more. 

Dr. Kurt Hong on…

The reason he joined Lifeforce…

“I’ve been in clinical and patient care for over 20 years, and I have also been privileged to be involved in doing bench work as well as clinical studies. While they bring a lot of different experiences and value to how I approach patient care, I’m always looking to see what’s next. What can we do better? What can we bring to our patients that’s unique, innovative, and life-changing? That’s where Lifeforce stood out. When I talked to Lifeforce and saw what they’ve been able to do within a very short period of time, I knew I needed to be involved.” 

What inspired his medical career…

“As I completed my training, I discovered that a lot of medicine focuses on purely giving medications and treating diseases rather than being proactive to prevent disease. That’s why I decided to switch gears. After my internal medicine residency, I chose to do a fellowship in nutrition, and then I got a PhD to better understand the aging process. Now, my job entails focusing on preventive care. The key is to be ahead of the game, so that hopefully as we all get older, it’s not just about living longer, but also living better.” 

What ‘proactive care’ means to him...

“It’s enabling patients to take charge of their health. The best way for patients to actually achieve their goals is if they feel like they’re part of the decision making process. As a physician, simply telling you what you need to do or take is a very passive way of giving recommendations. I want them to feel like they can actually make a meaningful change in their lifestyle and in their health, so we can achieve those goals together.” 

The emergence of Medicine 3.0...

“As we move beyond traditional medicine and into the next generation of Medicine 3.0, we need to be proactive in how we approach prevention and management of chronic diseases. It needs to come from a place of personalized care because our bodies are all wired differently. I also think more physicians are gauging success in terms of how we help our patients, not just how many patients we see. Are we able to help patients manage their diseases better? Are we able to do a much better job of preventing diseases in patients who are at higher risk? Are our patients satisfied? It all comes back to personalization and quality of care.”

The one biomarker everyone should measure…

“I think everyone should get a Hemoglobin A1C test. So many of our medical diseases are tied into diabetes, pre-diabetes, or glucose intolerance. If you can capture someone in pre-diabetes or the diabetic range, you are able to manage their disease effectively and avoid a lot of the long-term health complications like heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, and so forth. Even if you’re capturing someone in a pre-diabetes state where they don’t necessarily need to be on medication, you can focus on bringing their blood sugar back down to the normal range.” 

READ MORE: Your Guide to Lifeforce’s 40+ Diagnostic Biomarkers

What he wants everyone to know about hormone optimization…

“The key with hormone optimization is getting away from treating a number. We have to treat the patient. Yes, we do blood tests to look for imbalances or declines associated with aging. But we also talk to the patient and look at their functional status. We ask, ‘Are there things you are no longer able to do that you used to enjoy? Is a hormone imbalance contributing to poor energy, poor sleep, blood sugar regulation, or weight?’ Once we’re able to get the bigger picture, we can target the therapy better for that particular patient.”

The longevity hack he swears by…

“The ‘prescription’ I wish I could give everyone is exercise. Weight, metabolic disease, stress management, better sleep, prevention of dementia and cognitive decline — it’s all tied to exercise. Everyone is busy, but even just 20 minutes of movement three times a week is a good place to start. I tell patients to find one day between Monday and Friday and one day on the weekend where they can exercise. Then, you can add in a second weekday. It can be anything from gardening, to cycling with friends, to resistance training, to walking your dog. The key is finding something you enjoy where you can get into a routine.” 

His top wellness goal…

“My goal is to be able to keep up with my teenage kids. They’re all into different sports — I have a figure skater, a soccer player, and a cross-country runner. They don’t care if I’m 50 years old. They might say, ‘Hey dad, let’s go for a 5-mile run.’ I love that because now I have something to train for. The best part of exercise, besides spending time with my kids, is that it relaxes me and allows me to get out of the house. There are a million reasons why I can tell my kids I can’t go because I’m too busy, but I make it a point to go as often as I can.” 

His nutrition philosophy…

“I’m a big fan of following any kind of pescatarian/Mediterranean regimen. I recommend focusing on high-quality protein, a lot less processed foods, and in particular a lot less processed sugar. It’s not about doing super low-carb or avoiding all fats. It’s about being selective with your carbs and fats. When I work with patients on their diet, I start with two or three changes they can implement right away. The perfect example is eating at least three or four servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Then, let’s maybe try to diversify their protein intake so they’re not just getting it from red meat. If they can do that, we’ll focus on the next step.” 

His greatest hope for Lifeforce members…

“My hope is sustainability. It’s so encouraging to see that 85% of our members report improved quality of life after working with us for just three months. But we also want to make sure that whatever intervention we counsel them on is something they can continue to do over a long period of time. The health coaching and biomarker retesting that we offer are integral to delivering on that promise.” 

How he’ll know he lived life to its fullest…

“I’ll look to see whether I feel happy. Happiness sounds mundane, but I think it's easy to focus on defining success by career ambitions or money. You see a lot of people burned out because that takes its toll on their physical health and they can’t enjoy retirement. I love what I do. If I’m privileged enough to be able to work into my 70s, then I’d like to do that. But I also want to feel happy because I think as long as we can all do that, then we’ve achieved our goals.” 

Looking for more support to live longer and stronger? 

The Lifeforce Membership empowers you with biomarker testing every three months, unlimited health coaching, plus clinical advice from Dr. Hong’s team of experienced clinicians all dedicated to helping you look, feel, and function at your best. Learn more here and get started with $200 off. 

This article was medically reviewed by Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 

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