June 30, 2021 | Health Improvement, Podcast

Two Pandemics, Not-So-Magic Mushrooms + Health Tips from Dr. Joel Kahn

Are we fighting one pandemic or two? What's the surprising benefit of including mushrooms in your diet? What's a little-known secret to getting better sleep and stop snoring?

This episode of Health Is On The Way is full of practical takeaways to improve your lifestyle and your immune health—which is especially timely as in-person work and personal events begin to pick up again.

Listen in for an insightful interview with America's Healthy Heart Doc, Dr. Joel Kahn—a world-renowned holistic cardiologist, bestselling author, thought leader in preventive medicine, and esteemed guest on The Joe Rogan Experience, Larry King Now and more.

 

About Our Guest

Dr. Joel Kahn is one of the world's leading holistic cardiologists and serves as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and is the founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity. Dr. Kahn lives with his wife and three children in the Detroit area, where he has recently opened the popular health food restaurant, the GreenSpace Café. 

Additional, Relevant Resources 

 

In this episode...

  • What are the two pandemics? What can we do about them?
  • Recommendations on immune-boosting actions, foods and supplements.
  • How dangerous is bacon?
  • The surprising effects of including mushrooms in your diet.
  • A little-known secret to getting better sleep and stop snoring.

Transcript

Brad Lawson:

Hi, I'm Brad Lawson

Susan Morgan Bailey:

And I'm Susan Morgan Bailey.

Brad Lawson:

And this is Health Is On The Way, a podcast sponsored by Bravo Wellness. You may know what employee wellness is, but if you want to talk about what it should be, head to Bravowell.com. Each episode features informed guests, tackling emerging issues in health and healthcare.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

Sometimes we take a fresh look at bold ideas, and each time we aim to give you information, you can act on to bring more health and well-being your way.

Brad Lawson:

As always this isn't healthcare advice. Please consult your own qualified professional and talk about your needs and situation.

Brad Lawson:

How are you doing Susan?

Susan Morgan Bailey:

It's a warm, almost-summer day.

Brad Lawson:

You know what? Today is the first day that I heard the cicadas.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

Oh yeah, you have them in Ohio. We don't, it's not happening. Is it like mass mass of them yet?

Brad Lawson:

Yeah, my front yard. I walked out in my front yard and they were like, I looked down and they're around a big tree. They're just everywhere on the ground. Yeah. It's kind of cool. Kind of cool. It's kind of loud, but we'll see how it goes. But yeah, so it's a beautiful summer day. We get, we have an amazing podcast episode today because it's a, it's a second time in our careers that we're reviewing the cardiology celebrity, Dr. Joel Kahn.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

The man who does not seem to sleep, although he preaches sleep, so I feel like he practices what he preaches, but he is wicked smart, full of information and inspiring in terms of what he shares that it's doable. I like that because he gave really good tips in our discussion around things people could do.

Brad Lawson:

Unbelievably practical, but science and research based, and so he looks at what's going on in his own practice, but he doesn't rely just on that. If you follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn, you know, that he is constantly scouring the evidence, the published evidence, to be able to bring the best health recommendations and medical practice to his patients and to his listeners. And he reaches a lot of people through his channels. So this is so exciting that he's with us, and I think all of our listeners are going to be able to walk away with some really tangible nuggets of of health improvement and how to live a better, safer life in this, this era of the dual pandemics we have going on. Which, if that confuses you, you got to listen - you'll find out what we're talking about.

 

Let's get at it.

Brad Lawson:

Dr. Khan. Thank you very much for joining us.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

 

I'm excited to rejoin this great group, this trio that brings health messages all over your network. Good thing.

Brad Lawson:

We loved interviewing you. I actually went back and listened to the podcast today our previous podcast. So it's been about a year and a half and a couple of things have changed since then. I don't know if you noticed a - a couple of things have changed. I was on the phone earlier today with Ashley, from Bravo Wellness, our sponsor, and I think she framed it up really well. We we've got two pandemics going on in this country - we've had a pandemic of chronic disease, which you've been on the front lines of fighting for what, 20, 30 years.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Correct, 31 and having an anniversary we can all sing later.

Brad Lawson:

And you know, the other pandemic that maybe you've heard about - the coronavirus pandemic that is more of an acute pandemic, it's been with us now for more than a year. I would love just to start off the conversation withyou know, in light of you being a preventive cardiologist that's really focused on lifestyle and what people can do to improve their cardiometabolic health, but really their whole health, what have you changed in the last year by understanding the research and the science related to this second pandemic we're dealing with - the acute virus pandemic around your recommendations to your patients?

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Number one: as horrible as the last 12 to 15 months have been with the loss of so many, elderly, sick, and unfortunately some seemingly healthy people and people that we've characterized as the real high risk. Unfortunately, obesity is a pretty high risk for diabetes and heart disease. In 2020, twice as many people died of heart disease as COVID in United States, those are CDC (Center for Disease Control) data.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

So you're right- we have this pandemic that has been present in the United States literally for 103 years - the number one cause of death in the United States is cardiovascular disease. Didn't change at all in 2020, it won't change in 2021 and it deserves warp speed. Not to ever say that people who've had a bad case of COVID, long haulers, or had relatives, friends, coworkers, that either were very sick or passed away aren't unbelievably sad and as important of a national priority. They obviously are international priority.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Number two, the pandemic affects the heart and we've been hearing more than a year about the blood vesseldamage that COVID can do - clots in the heart, clots in the lung, clots in the leg. We're seeing a little bit less of that, because we know that we have to put people with serious COVID on blood thinners early in the course. We're treating outpatients with blood thinners that have COVID of a moderate or severe degree, but don't yet qualify for hospitalization. So we're getting better at it using Heparin and other drugs, but it's real serious issue.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

The third is what you talked about. We have enough data now to know if we had worked speed lifestyle program for the pandemic, we would also reduce heart disease, cancer, and type two diabetes because we know that our immune system thrives on micro nutrients and nutrients. Fast food, soda pop, donuts, bacon are not the foods that fuel your heart to health. They don't prevent cancer, they in fact cause cancer. They don't prevent type two diabetes, they in fact cause type two diabetes. But they also completely knocked down our immune system's ability to respond and to be prepared. If you're in a crowded room or other situation where you do get exposed to the Coronavirus (by the original one or some of the variants) and all of a sudden you're sick and maybe very sick.  

Dr. Joel Kahn:

So if we would have attacked lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, vitamin optimization, we would have reduced heart disease deaths. We also would have reduced, COVID severe illnesses and what do we get instead? Take a vaccine and get a donut, take a vaccine and get a burger with the mayor of New York and other just horrific examples. So, I've been writing and speaking about "optimize your health now more than ever." COVID pandemic is a time to lose weight, to a healthy level, if you need to, not gain weight. COVID is a time to learn to love salads and peas and beans and fruits and vegetables and whole grains and cook at home. Healthy Foods - don't eat out, don't carry in, you know, one pepperoni pizza after another, but you don't hear that a lot from our governmental authorities, and we've lost some opportunity to make a big impact on health and wellness that would have been much more impactful than just the pandemic. It would have attacked all these, what we call lifestyle-related diseases, which is the majority of illness and death across the Western world.

Brad Lawson:

So have you seen that in your patient population the fear of COVID and having a bad infection be a motivator to people to kind of get their other lifestyle factors in order?

Dr. Joel Kahn:

It wouldn't be fair to say the smart ones because I'm not trying to be rude to anybody, but let's just say, those that really thought about it. I don't have a statistic - I had patients in the office today: "I became a plant-based eater because of COVID," and I had a husband and wife who both dropped 40 pounds since December by realizing they had some health issues. They're both 71 years old and they have had great success -blood pressure is lower, blood sugar is lower, their waistline is much lower and they did that by using the pandemic as kind of the pressure on them to get healthier, but it's helped their entire outlook.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

So I've had a number of people, and I think the opportunity to cook at home instead of running through the drive-through because you're driving to the next office or the next sale - now you're at home working on a laptop as so many people are. It gives the opportunity to have a refrigerator full of fresh food and make homemade soups and homemade chilies, plant-based bean chilies, and things like that. Not all have taken that approach, but there has been that opportunity, and I've seen a lot of really great examples. And it's not too late - start today. Whether you're vaccinated or not, start today. Who knows what the next variant is. You still want your immune system to be at the top of its game, even if you've been vaccinated.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

Is that the recommendation? You obviously are what you eat, so focusing on making healthy food choices, but if you had to tick off the sort of trifecta of immune boosting, is it sleep, eat well, move more? Is it the usual suspects, are there supplements? I mean, is there anything that stands out rather besides the standard top three?

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Nutrition matters, as you said. All fresh, unprocessed foods. A giant salad a day might be the only change you make. Eat an apple and a banana every day - it might be the only change of make. Cook a little bit more at home, yeah, all that's going to help. We knew all that. Adequate micronutrients - you're gonna find that fruits and vegetables are good for the immune system. Omega threes - very good for the immune system. Start dumping a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseed on your oatmeal in the morning. Start learning to make a chia seed pudding or eat some walnuts as a snack rather than a candy bar, because walnuts are very high in omega three. Or big green leafy salads - arugula is very good for omega three. People think about fish and that's a nice option too, instead of fried food, but there are many, many plant-based sources that will power your immune system.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

When you get to supplements, there was a proposal as early as March, 2020 by a very esteemed professor at East Virginia medical school. His name is Paul Merek, M-E-R-E-K M.D and he published a proposal: "I think we could prevent and even treat mild cases of COVID as an outpatient by taking a cocktail," and he went through all the academic reasons: vitamin D, an unusual one called quercetin, Q-U-E-R-C-E-T-I-N, some people call it quercetin, naturally found in apples, berries onions and garlic, but it's available as a supplement. It's an awesome cardiovascular supplement, 500 milligrams a day. A little melatonin at night, not just to sleep better, but melatonin may enhance your immune system. Zinc - 25 to 50 milligrams a day short-term zinc, which is very important in the immune response, and vitamin C. So those five: D, C, quercetin, zinc, and melatonin were proposed. And this was a document on the web anybody could read. East Virginia medical school. I actually think he's updated it. Somewhere in my pile here, I have his updated version, which is very similar but even more detailed. You know, these are important.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

I believe I'm saying correctly that around August Dr. Fauci who, certainly many people have looked to for advice, and he's certainly in a position to give advice, said, "Well, I've been taking vitamin D and zinc since the beginning of all this." Some of us said, "Why didn't you tell the public that, you know, six months earlier? It might've helped some people, maybe. Suggest it." But, even still, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level or get a multivitamin that has C, D, zinc in it. All these things can be tested in the blood very easily and very inexpensively.

Brad Lawson:

Just a couple of minutes ago, you said the bacon word, and I wanted to call back from the last podcast that we were together where Susan made a shocking admission that she had had bacon that morning. And I was reminded today when I listened that I had put you on a bacon vacation, so maybe you should give Dr. Khan an update on your bacon vacation.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

My bacon vacation, I mean, the situation vastly improved. I did as Dr. Khan suggested. My ability to make healthier food choices improved in the last year and a half because of being trapped at home. I took advantage of that situation. I know a lot of people couldn't do that and gratefully, I was able to do it.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

You know, I don't have skin in the game - I don't spend a lot of time with piglets and pigs. The rare times I've been around them they're pretty cute, and they're known to be very intelligent. It's just a mass of data of the frequency of bacon and other processed red meats. It's not one study, It's 25 studies that consistently find high intake of processed red meat: bacon, pepperoni, salami, bologna, hotdogs, corned beef. You can just say type two diabetes, you can say Alzheimer's, you can say colorectal cancer and other cancers, breast, and pancreatic. You can say heart disease and probably immune function detriments. It can be low or no [red meat intake]. For me, it's no, but don't make it a regular part of your diet.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

There was this craze a few years ago that had been long lasting - bacon everywhere - and I think it still exists in the fast food industry, but at home. Turkey bacon isn't any better. It may be the saturated fat content, the way it's prepared at high heat. There's a chemical process that probably turns bacon into super dangerous bacon. It may be the nitrates and nitrosamine, so turkey bacon is basically in the same class.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

 

It is what it is. I think, like you pointed out at the very beginning, there's a lot of research to support a lot of things that people aren't necessarily following. And so, we've got to continue to remind folks that there is evidence to support making some of these choices, making all the choices that are the good, healthy choices along those lines of evidence. When we originally had asked you to have a conversation with us again, you had recently talked about mushrooms and cancer risk production. Do I have to eat whole mushrooms or can I have mushroom powder? And can you talk about what's up with mushrooms and cancer risk?

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Good question, actually pretty relevant. I happened just oddly to have a mushroom powder organic in my office - it was on my lunch today. I think the research has been food surveys, and when people answer, "A regular habit of mine is to eat plain white cap button mushroom," you can buy them at every grocery store. It had previously been shown that women that regularly eat just plain white cap button mushrooms, maybe cut them up in a salad, maybe saute them, maybe put them in a soup or stew - they had less breast cancer. A pretty good outcome of eating mushrooms. This study looked at all cancers and actually regular mushroom eaters lowered their cancer risk by 45%, about half, which is for a food group that is pretty tasty.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

The other cool thing: mushrooms have a lot of vitamin D, so it is possible to get extra vitamin D just through food. You're going to want to slice up a few mushrooms every day in your salad. It's probably another component - mushrooms are rich in something called beta-glucan, which may be quite anti-cancer preventive. So yeah, that's a little health act there. Some people absolutely just can't stand mushrooms, but if you can overcome that and make it a regular habit, there's no downside. There's no disease for mushrooms, assuming you just rinse them off a little bit.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

I actually put mushroom powder in my coffee this morning.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Mushroom powder in the coffee for most of the audience is going to sound disgusting. [There are] Several companies that make that. I do it too because it's all pre-mixed. It actually gives the coffee - it kind of cuts down the acidic flavor. I don't know how much mushroom you get out of that. One of the mushrooms is called Lion's Mane Mushroom which is actually, like caffeine, a very good brain picker-upper, so that's why they picked that one, particularly. I don't know if you're going to reduce your cancer risk with that. I'm talking about even another mushroom powder I just throw in a salad. I'd rather people just focus, go to the grocery store, pick up a little container of mushrooms. I assume dried mushrooms are probably also a reasonable choice like we often throw in the soup if you're making a minestrone or something like that.

Brad Lawson:

So last time we talked, you were really excited about a health hack that you believed had a lot of health benefits, including some anti-aging benefits, which was red light therapy. It is still on my wishlist and they've actually gotten hard to buy now - they've become very popular. But I wanted to ask you, because you are so focused on staying up with the health headlines and the research and evidence, what has you excited now? What did you come across recently that has you excited around this idea of maintaining our health longer as we age? Because I am getting up there.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

The foundation is always (because I'm going to tell you something odd) but I'll tell you the foundation. It's always don't smoke, get some fitness: I'm at a standing desk, take a walk, drop and do 20 pushups. I got battle ropes at home now, I've kind of expanded a little home gym and battle ropes cost me 50 bucks. If you don't know what they are, [they're] kind of crazy little gladiator CrossFit kind of things.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Getting good sleep is the foundation for avoiding disease and longevity. But when you're talking about interesting things, there are so many people struggling with sleep in the United States and Detroit, wherever you want to go. Some of it is cell phones, some of it is the TV and Netflix and unlimited distractions that fuel us. Some of it is anxiety and stress - pandemic and many other reasons. Some of it is stimulants like caffeine too late in the day. But sleep apnea - snoring, making noise, is a much bigger medical problem. If you take any cross-section, take a group of diabetics - a large number of them, If you do a test or the home sleep study, have real problems with sleep that could shorten their life, increase the risk of early memory problems and make it difficult to lose weight. Take a heart group, a high blood pressure group, you're going to find it over and over and over.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

So it turns out there's a very weird habit that if you can breathe through your nose at night, which is very common - shut your mouth, breathe through your nose - It's a much healthier way to breathe. It reduces snoring, it reduces dramatically the need to get up at night and pee. Anybody listening, [who is] getting up a lot at night, pay attention. It's difficult because you'll fall asleep and your mouth falls open. There's a lot of reasons why a lot of us are mouth breathers. I am one of them. Maybe you had some of your wisdom teeth removed in your mouth has just gotten smaller and collapse. It's not a very healthy thing to do, so the tip is this:

Dr. Joel Kahn:

There's actually some really good research and experience of taping your mouth shut at night. Literally taking a piece of tape, it's harder if you have facial hair like a goatee or a beard, but taking a piece of tape like a diagonal, it closes your mouth if you get a good piece of tape. Last patient I left just took my last role - it's usually sitting on my desk. Literally, if you go on one of the internet sellers, like the one that Mr. Bezos owns, I hate to say names, particularly, you put in "mouth tape," you'll see a bunch of brands and it is amazing what people tell me: "Doc, that's the weirdest thing you've ever suggested I do, but I stopped peeing a night. I sleep more soundly than I've ever slept before. The spouse, the girlfriend, the boyfriend, whatever it is says, "I don't snore nearly as much as I used to snore." One little piece of tape. It's actually, if anybody were to look it up on the internet, "mouth taping for snoring," "mouth taping for waking up at night." So, once you've mastered sleep, you may feel good enough during the day to make better food choices, put your gym shoes on and workout. Sleep is key. Mouth taping is the new black.

Brad Lawson:

I love it. Before we started recording, we were talking about the book by James Nester "Breathe," which you're quoted in, which I had on a previous podcast said was one of the things I tackled during the pandemic because I read that book and the power of breath and breathing correctly is kind of a lost science from ancient times and I love it. That's a great place to end. Well I do want to say Dr. Kahn, I know you're a University of Michigan grad and I am sending off my oldest daughter and one of her best friends Izzy and another one Kennedy - they're all going to Ohio State.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

(Laughing). They can go to OSU and end up with a masters from Michigan and actually finally learn something.

Brad Lawson:

All right, well, my daughter is going to be studying sciences and she's going to be a biology major. So hopefully she'll contribute to the world of health evidence.

Dr. Joel Kahn:

Good deal.

Brad Lawson:

Yeah, thank you. We really appreciate the time and It was great to see you again and we're looking forward to the next, thank you.

Brad Lawson:

Once again, this podcast is sponsored by Bravo Wellness to learn more about how Bravo wellness helps employers reduce costs and improve care and how Bravo helps people live their best life, visit Bravowell.com.

Susan Morgan Bailey:

And if you love this episode, click subscribe and tell your friends that health is on the way.

 

 

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