Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sharping the Saw by Joel Kahn, M.D. Preventative Cardiologist

Today I have a really special post to share with you all. Joel Kahn, M.D. has written a special guest post for BYOL today on how and where a preventative cardiologist gets their information about health and nutrition. The advice he shares below is sound and can be a great resource to anyone regardless of their interest in nutrition. Dr. Kahn and I have been connected online for the past year, and being nearly done with his book, which I can’t recommend enough, I am greatly looking forward to meeting Dr. Kahn in person at the New York City Veg Fest.

Dr. Kahn is one of the nation’s most renowned interpreventional cardiologists. Having practiced invasive, interventional, and preventative cardiology since 1990, Dr. Kahn has years of clinical and research experience. He is a regular contributor for MindBodyGreen, Readers Digest magazine, and the recent author of The Holistic Heart Book.   

Sharpening the saw: How a teacher gets training:

I am excited to write a guest piece for BYOL and am looking forward to speaking at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival March 1.  I am a cardiologist trained at the University of Michigan long ago (graduated summa cum laude due in part to my vegetarian diet!) and practicing in Detroit all these years. I do heart catheterizations, place stents, run to emergency rooms, see office patients, and answer a zillion calls and emails a day.

Long ago I chose a vegetarian lifestyle and then the big V over a decade ago. No burger, no cheese, no fish etc.  I have been on billboards across Detroit in my doctor coat announcing “Beat heart disease, diabetes and cancer, Go Vegan” and speak regularly on TV, radio and lectures on the health, environmental and ethical reasons that plant based lifestyles are the best and only choice for the future.

Increasingly I am looked upon to have the answers to tough question, tricky critics, anti-vegan blogsites, Paleo promoters and so on. So how does the teacher stay ahead of the rest and have as many answers as possible?  As Stephen Covey wrote in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, how do I sharpen my own saw to be able to cut more effectively?  Can these help you stay on top of trends in nutrition, animal rights and related topics?

One resource I used that may appeal to some readers was to formally go back to school. I chose a program in integrative cardiology offered at in conjunction with the University of South Florida School of Medicine.  These year long curriculum of both online and classroom lectures is open to both physicians and others interested in an advanced training in many areas of health and wellness and offers the advantage of a university affiliation if so selected. Other resources for formal education can be found at,, and   For those interested predominantly in nutrition, online programs offered at,, and are available.

Not everyone has the time or interest to pursue these formal courses and still there are options, including ones I use, to stay current and engaged in the fast paced world of nutrition and health.  First on the list is to sign up for the daily emails from Dr. Michael Greger at   Dr. Greger is in Washington, D.C. and has been producing short and high quality videos on YouTube for several years.  There is no charge to receive his daily email and the number of videos exceeds 1,000.  Dr. Greger does very thorough research of the medical literature and all his videos are backed by multiple references drawn from the medical literature. He reviews about 14,000 articles on nutrition yearly and finds hidden gems. He presents the topics in vivid and clear formats and adds his special humor and slight sarcasm to provide a constant stream of enjoyable material. I watch his videos daily and often search his site for information. He produces one video a year that is an overview of a topic that lasts an hour and it has always been a highlight that I share liberally on social media. Sign up now if you have not.

Another site that will challenge and educate you is This site is shrouded in more mystery as the author is anonymous. I have emailed with him and he is a graduate student who chooses to keep his identity hidden.  He produces You Tubes which are free and last form about 8 to 30 minutes.  There are easily over 150 such videos so there are literally hours and hours of information.  Like Dr. Greger, this site relies heavily on medical references and not just opinion.  Plant Positive has taken the task of responding to Paleolithic blogger and authors, cholesterol confusionists, and all lovers of animal saturated fats.  There is a group of these people that are polished, practiced and vicious in their defense of eating animals for health. I listen and relisten regularly to these videos.  They provide a detailed analysis of the writings of Loren Cordain, Gary Taubes and others and identify false statements, distorted references, and logic fallacies on a regular basis.  This faction is not to be taken lightly and several physicians with best selling books promoting diets that are variations of Atkin’s ketogenic and pro-atherogenic venues are constantly confusing the public about the health risks of animal products.  I encourage you to jump into this site but be prepared for some of the topics to be very detailed and challenging.

My good friend Dr. Neal Barnard founded about 25 years ago. Trained as a psychiatrist, Dr. Barnard shifted to animal rights and plant based nutrition and set up this organization which does research, advocates for ethical treatment of animals, sues institutions fraudulently promoting unhealthy programs, and writes regular blogs that are shared on social media.  I learn so much from Dr. Barnard and am sure you will too.

A friend I have not yet met but hope to is Dr. John McDougall at  Dr. McDougall worked in Hawaii decades ago and observed how the health of native Japanese started to deteriorate when they moved to Hawaii and starting to consume Western foods.  He established a clinic that promoted plant based diets rich in complex carbohydrates and whole grains and has treated tens of thousand of patients or more with these diets.  He regularly writes blogs, publishes book, and produces teaching videos and I have found these very helpful.

Another resource I bring to you is This site established in 2011 has grown at a meteoric speed and now 15 million or more visits occur monthly.  I began writing a weekly column for them a year ago and have contributed over 50 blogs on health and nutrition.  The authors are diverse and occasional blogs promoted non-vegan diets.  I respond to these vigorously for the often erroneous data they present.  Yoga, recipes, and life coaching are frequent other categories. 

And finally,  This site is simply fun, diverse and of high quality. I am proud to be contributing and look forward to meeting you on March 1. Come say hello.  I will be talking about 10 Holistic Heart Tips and my new book The Holistic Heart Book will be available.  

You can learn more at my website or on Twitter at @drjkahn.  Ciao!

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.


  1. Thanks BYOL and Dr. Kahn for this super useful post. It can be so hard to know where to find accurate, science-based nutrition information. Thanks for making it a bit easier!

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