Living Long, Living Well With Concierge Medicine Doctor Eric Pifer, M.D.

Dr. Pifer on his boat, Farah II

Marin County often gets top billing for healthiest places to live. To San Francisco Concierge Medicine doctor Eric Pifer, M.D., that’s reflected in Marin’s residents — and his medical practice. “In our program, we emphasize diet, fitness, good sleep and low stress,” he says. “The people of Marin County naturally gravitate to these things, and it allows them to build health across their lifespan.”

Let’s start with concierge medicine. What is it?

Concierge medicine offers a personalized approach to healthcare. I became a concierge physician because I wanted to maintain a close connection to fewer patients, which makes it possible for me to do house calls, hospital visits and be directly available 24/7.

I think it means staying free of chronic disease and maintaining the mental and physical capacity to enjoy life. Healthy aging encompasses physical, cognitive and emotional health, built over time.

What do you do to stay healthy?

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with metabolic problems, prediabetes and an early form of heart disease so I experimented to find the right combination of approaches to improve my health. Now I swim about 5 miles per week, I eat only plants on most days, I sleep like a baby and my stress level is the lowest it’s been in years.

So, metabolism is central to optimal health. How do you use metabolic medicine in your practice?

Metabolic medicine works proactively to diagnose and manage chemical imbalances that lead to many chronic conditions. Because each person’s metabolism is unique, we start with a full panel of tests to understand their biometrics. Then, we prescribe wearable technology, such as glucose monitors and sleep trackers, to scientifically support lifestyle changes. When appropriate, we blend that data with advanced pharmaceuticals to create customized programs.

Sutter Concierge

How does metabolic health affect aging?

A slowing metabolism causes abnormalities in glucose and fat levels circulating in the blood. Over time, those abnormal levels cause toxicity to specific tissues like nerves, kidney cells, muscles and organs. The two most powerful ways to improve your metabolism are aerobic exercise and avoiding highly processed, sugary foods.

How does diet relate to metabolic health? 

Research tells us that the healthiest diet is vegan, followed closely by Mediterranean-style diets. Traditional Western diets heavy in animal protein are largely to blame for the high rates of heart disease, cancer and dementia in the U.S.

What’s the connection between fitness and healthy aging? 

Fitness is the best medicine known to mankind. Improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness (aka VO2 max) can help against heart disease and other chronic diseases. There’s also a strong association between grip strength and longevity. In our program, we get people active and then coach them to achieve their highest possible fitness level.

Golden Hills Hiking

What’s your take on the semaglutide craze? 

I think semaglutide is a fabulous drug, and other drugs in that class are even better. It’s only called a craze because some people have used it to lose small amounts of weight. But many people with metabolic issues and early heart disease can use semaglutide or something similar safely and to outstanding effect.

What’s your idea of a perfect day in Marin? 

A sailing day with my beautiful wife, Baanie. We leave Sausalito around 10 a.m. and end up at the dock at Sam’s in Tiburon, Angel Island or one of San Francisco’s great marinas.

To learn more about Dr. Pifer and concierge member benefits, call us at 415-600-0811, visit our website or schedule an introductory meeting

San Francisco Concierge Medicine is a service of Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation.