This post is written by Dr. Joel Kahn, otherwise known as “America’s Holistic Heart Doc”. Dr. Kahn is a practicing interpreventional cardiologist who also writes for Reader’s Digest. He has taught dozens of residents and cardiologists, and graciously accepted to be a speaker at the launch party for The Food Babe Way in New York City back in February. I am thrilled to have him as a contributor here!
I am hardly a doctor basher. Last I checked, I was a cardiologist actively involved in seeing hundreds of patients a month. In the next few months I am lecturing at several medical meetings sponsored by University faculty and hold the position of professor at 3 universities myself. But… it is no exaggeration to say that in general conventional medicine is slow to adapt new ideas and platforms. While I could pick many aspects of practice that are due for an overhaul, I want to focus on 3 that come to mind that need to be flushed from medical jargon.
1. “Moderation in everything is the key”
This is simply wrong. My advice for patients is “extreme in diet, moderate in fitness, abundant in love”. Why do I say that? Although I wont go into detail about fitness, there is abundant research in the last few years that extreme exercise, like repeated marathons or triathalons, may acutally increase the risk of heart diseases. The current mantra is exercise is like a medication and the dose matters. More central is the issue of nutrition. Simply put, medical societies have failed to address the critical connection between diet and the origin and reversal of chronic diseases. For example, years ago Dr. Dean Ornish compared the impact of the diet and lifestyle on blocked heart arteries. The control group was told to follow their doctors dietary recommendations and the experimental group was told to follow an “extreme”diet constituting mainly plants. At the end of 5 years, heart artery blockages became more severe in the conventional group but showed reversal in the “extreme” diet! Other examples of “extreme” diets stressing quality of foods, plant-centeric approaches, and organic produce have shown reduction in cancer growth, reversal of aging, and reduced excretion of pesticides in children and adults. I advise you to be vigilant in what goes into your awesome body to maximize your health and vitality.
2. “Vitamins just make expensive urine”
Oh how doctors love to bash vitamins, or nutraceuticals if you want to impress friends. When I am at a party with doctors and it is a bit dull I just say in a loud voice, “excuse me, I have to go take my last few dozen vitamins”! Sure, there are legitimate areas of confusion but are all vitamins just window dressing to make someone rich? Hardly based on the science. For example, take Coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant and substrate to make energy in every cell in the body . Can you find CoQ10 in a hospital? Can patients or their families freely bring a bottle into the hospital to use for health? The vitamins will likely be confiscated like crack. How strange when studies show improved outcome including death when CoQ10 was studied in rigorous trials. My favorite 4 vitamins, or my Core 4, for all to consider is a probiotic to improve their gut health or microbiome, chelated magnesium to assist in over 300 enzymatic reactions, Vitamin D3, and CoQ10. Shh, I take about 20 more to assist optimal cellular health on a daily basis.
3. “A sleeping pill won’t hurt you”
At that same time that medical science has shown the importance of 7 good hours of sleep to restore our metabolism to normal overnight after a stressful day, fewer and fewer people are achieving those good 7 hours. Whether it is EMF and wifi, bright lights rich in 480 nm blue waves from our PCs, pads and phones, or jobs that hyper-connect us 24/7, nearly a majority of respondents to surveys indicate that they sleep poorly. So what is the harm in your doctor giving you a prescription for a sleeping pill (hypnotic) or stress pill (anxiolytic) to help you sleep for the rest of your life? In fact, that recommendation from your doctor may risk your very life. In a recent matched-cohort study from American clinics, a prescription for even <18 sleeping pills a year was associated with a 3-fold increased risk of death and higher doses increased the risk of dying by 5-fold. Of course, it may be that people getting those prescriptions had other reasons for poor sleep that were associated with death but we must consider the possibility of a direct relationship. In another even more recent analysis involving 100,000 subjects, a prescription for hypnotics or anxiolytics was associated with a risk of dying that was over 300% higher than those without a similar prescription.
What should you do if you are sleeping poorly? I suggest you say No Thank You to your doctor’s prescription. Make your bedroom cold and dark. Turn off your wifi and cellphone if you can. Take an Epsom salt bath and meditate for 10-20 minutes before bed. Consider adding a nighttime cocktail of chamomile tea, magnesium lotions or powders, or herbs like valerian before bed. I sleep on sheets that ground me to the earth and recommend that approach to you too.
Life has changed dramatically since Marcus Welby MD and Dr. Spock advised us on how to maintain our health. Even Dr. Spock reevaluated his advice to so many mothers late in his life and advised extreme care in dietary choices for optimal health. We live in an age where it is acceptable to question medical authority, particularly on issues about nutrition, and it is advisable to link over to www.pubmed.com and search the National Library of Medicine to seek your own information. When I went to medical school at the University of Michigan my favorite professor told me that 50% of what he was going to teach us was wrong, but he did not know which 50% it was.
While you don’t throw out the baby, or your health care provider, with the bathwater, it is permissible to question medical advice with the simple question: “Why?”
More about Dr. Joel Kahn:
Dr. Kahn is a practicing interpreventional cardiologist, known as “America’s Holistic Heart Doc”, who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1983. Dr. Kahn has been practicing invasive, interventional and preventive cardiology in suburban Detroit since 1990, and was advanced to full Clinical Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine at Oakland University Beaumont School of Medicine. Reader’s Digest magazine selected Dr. Kahn for their Holistic Heart Doc column and their publishing arm published his book, The Whole Heart Solution, in 2014. He appears regularly on Fox TV 2 in Detroit as a health commentator. He has been nominated as a Top Doc in cardiology for most of the past years. In 2011, he received a certification from the University of South Florida in Metabolic Cardiology, and became the first physician to complete the program in the world. He is now a visiting lecturer for that university and has traveled the country speaking. To learn more, visit drjoelkahn.com.
Note from Vani: What do you think about Dr.Kahn’s post? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! Are there other topics you’d like to see addressed?