Friday, February 28, 2014

The Holistic Heart Book Review and Giveaway

Last month Dr. Joel Kahn offered a great guest post about where people can find reliable information about health and nutrition (I swear his very kind comment about my site was completely unsolicited!) However today I’m reviewing his new work and Dr. Kahn also agreed to send a copy of his book to a lucky winner so be sure to enter below!

Joel K. Kahn, M.D. The Holistic Heart Book: A Preventive Cardiologist’s Guide to Halt Heart Disease Now. A Reader’s Digest Book, 2013.

Since the early 90s when Dean Ornish, M.D. and Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D. first published their respective works proving that heart disease is not only caused by, but can also be reversed through lifestyle changes and diet, there has been a fury of research on the topic. Despite this, heart disease continues to be America’s number one killer, taking nearly 600,000 lives every single year. Dr. Joel Kahn, a preventative cardiologist and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine has recently published his own heart health manifesto, which neatly ties the best research on heart disease into one easy to read and very informative book. It is no exaggeration to say, this book can literally change your life.

In clear and precise language Dr. Kahn explains how complex the heart really is, comparing it to the brain, as the heart has its own neurons, hormones, and electrical field. Dr. Kahn’s work is broken down into two sections. The first section reviews the most current research on heart disease.

Unlike Dr. Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease which focuses exclusively on diet and heart health, Dr. Kahn’s book takes a different approach and demonstrates that it takes a healthy body to have a healthy heart. For instance, the thyroid gland, which sits about a foot above the heart, can have a profound impact on heart health. Roughly 2% of Americans have an overactive thyroid, and another 5% have an underactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism). The disturbance caused by these hormonal imbalances can both greatly affect the heart in negative ways. In this section, Dr. Kahn also demonstrates the importance of healthy arteries and further complicates our understanding of HDL – basically it’s not as simply as calling it “good cholesterol.”

In the second part of the book, Dr. Kahn offers over 70 “prescriptions” that he often writes for his patients. However, these prescriptions are a far cry from the one your doctor would typically write you. Instead, this is where the book truly becomes “holistic,” although I mean that in best possible light. Backing everything up with citations to peer-reviewed articles, (and admitting when the evidence on certain topics is still weak - such as grounding). These prescriptions range all over the place, from eating your greens, to changing your cleaning supplies and deodorant, to practicing yoga (vitamin Y, as Dr. Kahn puts it).  

Surprisingly, (and perhaps slightly controversial) Dr. Kahn highly recommends several different vitamins and supplements. While he is very careful about which ones he actually recommends, he suggests discussing these with your primary doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen. Besides claiming that the research on the benefits of supplements is strong, he has also seen many of his patients thrive when they start including some supplements and vitamins. One in particular is CoQ10 – Coenzyme Q 10, which is a powerful antioxidant made by the body, helps assist cells to produce energy. Around the age of 40, our body’s production of this antioxidant begins to slow, and Dr. Kahn recommends it to many of his patients. (note: there was not a citation on this supplement)

While all of this could be overwhelming, Dr. Kahn recommends that people start slow, picking just a few of his prescriptions out to try for a few weeks before adding more to the routine. He writes that the goal is to incorporate as many as possible without adding additional stress to our lives. In fact, reducing stress is one of his main goals!

It needs to be added that Dr. Kahn considers himself an ethical vegan. That said, while he promotes and encourages a complete plant-based lifestyle, he is far less dogmatic than some of the other authors on this topic. In fact, in his book, he includes some pointers for those simply looking to make wiser choices when it comes to animal products.

This book stands out when compared to the other works on this topic, both for its easy-to-follow writing style as well as for its holistic approach. If you are looking for practical and easy-to-incorporate advice to help protect your heart look no further. The added benefit is all of the advice will help improve your overall health, not just your heart. As Dr. Kahn says, it takes a healthy body to have a healthy heart. 

I got to meet Dr. Kahn and his wife Karen at the NYC Veg Fest!

Here are the rules. First, the winner needs to live in the United States (sorry international readers, no disrespect). The contest will end on March 15th at midnight. To enter, you must be a subscribed reader to BYOL. To increase your chances of winning leave a comment on this post. You will also gain a point if you "like" Bring Your Own Lentils facebook page. 

Also be sure to find Dr. Kahn on facebook. He is always post interesting articles on health and fitness

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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. Awesome! Would love to add this to my library. :)

  2. Thank you for this post! I am glad to see a physician addressing a holistic medical approach to a plant based lifestyle. My mother has thyroid and adrenal gland tumors which led to diabetes and heart disease. It has been difficult to advise her in a plant based based program due to glandular complications. This would be a fantastic resource.

  3. This book sounds really interesting! I'm looking forward to hearing Dr. Kahn speak at the International Conference on Diabetes this summer, and I'd love to read his book before that.

    Thanks for this post and giveaway, Ant!

  4. Sounds like a great read. Count me in to be a winner! :-)

  5. This is a book that I really want to read.