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3 Things Doctors Say You Should Do… But Shouldn’t!

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!

3 Things Doctors Say You Should Do, But You Shouldn't


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?”


Dr. Joel Kahn

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?

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218 responses to “3 Things Doctors Say You Should Do… But Shouldn’t!

    1. so you are saying someone like me , who’s had a liver transplant, and is on meds to help me keep the liver, should stop all the pills and just listen to the doctor say over and over ” u have a donated liver, u need to keep it”.? Tel me again how the truth would help me better than a pill.

      1. Shan, in your case that is something different. You are in my thoughts and I will pray for you. Good luck!!!

      2. I’m sorry you have had such a hard time with your liver…truly!
        I think her point in saying that is that so many people, and doctors, throw medicine at every issue. And medicine/pills are not needed for every issue…throwing meds at everyday, common issues is making our country sick.
        Now, for chronic/life-threatening illnesses, medicine is an incredible asset. I am so thankful that we live in this country and have access to wonderful health care! If I brake something or have to have surgery you better believe that I will take whatever pain pills they give me. But, for allergies, headaches, upset stomachs, every day ailments, etc I will go the more natural route!

      3. Clearly, the closing comment about throwing the baby (or doctor) out with water was missed. Do what you have to but also think about how you got there – needing a liver transplant. Take care of your new liver, support it with proper nutrition and supplementation.

  1. Hi, I agree with everything that Dr. Kahn writes. My question is if he can share the brands of vitamins he uses. I am always so confused about which to buy.
    Thank you!

  2. What does he mean by “I sleep on sheets that ground me to the earth”? Natural fibers?

  3. Can anybody please tell us where to research the topic of “grounding”?, as per Dr Kahn’s statement, ” I sleep on sheets that ground me to the earth and recommend that approach to you too.” My google searches took me nowhere. Thanks.

    1. Stop using Google. They record everything. I recommend Startpage.com or ixquick.com for all your searches.

  4. Dr Sinatra also talks about earthing or grounding.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZvZwpNKR_c

    This article is long overdue. I am so glad that a physician has come out to make this information more knowledgeable to people. I have been disappointed with the approach of doctors to diseases. It is worse that they cannot be bothered to educate patients to incorporate healthy diet and make lifestyle changes and would rather prescribe toxic drugs with dangerous side effects. Meals at the hospital are even worse. I have never heard any doctor talk about intake of magnesium. Worse still, some doctors are angry when patients go online to check resources that can help them. I suffered from very serious hypertension recently and had I not made drastic diet and lifestyle changes (which no doctor advised me to do), I would have been dead.

    I agree that there are lots of conflicting information online but then it is easy to sift the wheat from the chaff. The point is that some doctors are no help sometimes. It is therefore up to each and everyone to put in effort into educating themselves and be able to challenge doctors and ask questions. The good thing is that incompetent doctors can be replaced.

  5. I’m a little concerned about the advice regarding exercise. We need to remember that exercise is not the only type of physical activity. If we look at the trends over the past 50 years, it is clear that physical activity has declined in every domain of life, and this seems to be an under-appreciated factor. From the household, to our transportation, to our work places, to our leisure time, Americans spend more time sitting than ever before – by far! The doc sited studies about the detriments of high intensity exercise, but there have also been studies showing that a single bout of moderate intensity exercise is not enough to address the rise of chronic disease in our population. The thing is, it is important to MOVE, whether it is structured exercise or not! Take the stairs whenever possible, walk, bike, or bus instead of driving whenever possible, do housework vigorously, and play outside instead of watching tv and/or playing video games!

    1. I don’t think he was bashing exercise at all. I got the impression that he was merely warning against excessive exercise such as ultramarathon training and repeated marathon attempts as they can be detrimental to your health. Most people will never aspire to exercise this much so it’s safe to say (for the general public) that you cannot get too much exercise.

      1. Ok, this is my perspective, and it is biased because my degree is in exercise science with an emphasis in public health. Clearly he isn’t “bashing” exercise.

        The point I was trying to make is that it is unfortunate that the doc seems to have neglected to distinguish between exercise and physical activity. I am concerned that what he said communicates the wrong message since most people do not get enough physical activity OR exercise each day.

  6. This is fabulous! I love that Dr. Kahn lends credibility to the value of supplementing; especially the 4 he sites in this article. I hope that people open their minds, educate themselves and use their instinct to help heal their bodies.

  7. Answer to the grounding question: I sleep on grounding sheets. They are sheets that have an attached wire that plugs into the ground in a typical electrical outlet. Tons of info at http://www.earthing.com. (this is not an affiliate link, it is the main website) . The sheet for a Queen or king bed will cost over $200 USD but it is worth it. Being grounded to the earth is so important. Many people find that chronic ailments disappear and others just get a better night’s sleep. I even own a grounding mat to sleep on when I travel. Gives me the same feeling as if I were walking barefoot on the beach – same concept.

  8. I don’t see a doctor. I see a nurse practitioner. Fortunately she has never mentioned any of the three to me. I’m going to miss her when I move 550 miles next month. My daughter has finished college and moved out taking all the junk food in my house with her.

  9. Vitamin’is may do nothing for you at all but Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies lead to all kinds of chronic ailments, I have been taking Cod Liver oil, SAMe, D3 and mulitvitamin for years and at 55 and no health issues I will continue .

  10. I love it, and I love a doctor who is willing to challenge the establishment. When I was found to be low in D3 my doctor told me the “recommendations” were no more than 2000 mg day. He then put his hand to the side of his mouth, leaned my way and said, “I take 6000 mg.”

  11. Hi Vani,
    I liked all of your recommendations on other posts. I was wondering what recommendations do you have for Multivitamins if you had to pick out some brands.Thank you for your time.

  12. I loved this article. A doctor reminding us to not be afraid to ask “why”. We have to be our own health advocate! I also bought your book last week! I’m excited to learn more!
    Foodbabe, a topic I would also like for you to investigate and expound on are some of these popular MLM health products like “Plexus”. Lately, I have been overwhelmed by the popularity and false advertising on these products! I admit I was intrigued by this and another product last year (before I made big dietary and overall health changes). So I did some research and found tons of negative info. Now I have people trying to woo my poor old dad who has heart problems and COPD into taking this junk. It’s so sad and annoying that these “ambassadors” are spreading such misinformation. I’d like to see you put them and others like Plexus in their place! Thank you for all you do!

  13. Cannabis is a natural way to help one sleep well, without side effects. Wake refreshed. No need to smoke it, edibles or vaporizing are just two convenient alternatives. It must be legalized for all over age 21 and all medical patients.

  14. I agree with everything he says however I’m at odds with the sleeping pill information. As someone who has suffered from insomnia most of my life, I’ve tried everything from yoga, meditation, supplements, delta wave sounds, sleep tests, and shutting off electronics way before bed. I still wake up every night several times a night and sometimes have trouble falling back asleep. Once you’ve exhausted the alternative medicine, an occasional sleep aid can really help. It’s not a long term solution but anyone who hasn’t slept for a few days straight knows the detrimental effects that has on your health and mental well being.

  15. Thanks for this article! Wow over 20different supplements/vitamins each day to assist optimal cellular health? I really would like to hear more about your opinion and which vitamins/supplements you think are necessary and most effective. Thanks!

  16. Can you please tell me the daily intake for B12? All the reading I found it varies from 100mcg to 1,000mcg to 2,500mcg. Even there is no limit for taking B12, I still do not want to waste my money if 2,500 is unnecessary. I eat a healthy diet with lots of veg and just a bit of meat.

    And am I in the correct track for the daily intake of these other supplements:
    1. Vit D3 5,000-6,000IU
    2. Chelated magnesium – start w 500mg and adjust according to how your body react.
    3. Ubiquinol 100mg
    4. selenium 200mg
    5. Zinc 15mg
    6. Vit K2 100mcg

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