joel kahn plant-based diet

Food is Medicine (How to Go Plant-Based) – Dr. Joel Kahn on TRAINED, Hosted by Ryan Flaherty

Key Takeaways

  • Anti-inflammatory foods we should eat more of: 
    • Complex carbs
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, and avocados)
    • Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils)
  • 2,300 people die of cardiovascular disease EVERY day in the United States
  • When it comes to plant-based food, remember to eat more G.B.O.M.B.S.:
    • G – Greens
    • B – Beans (peas, lentils, and legumes)
    • O – Onions (and garlic)
    • M – Mushrooms (any and every kind)
    • B – Berries (any and all)
    • S – Seeds (chia, hemp, flax, pumpkin, and sunflower)
  • Whatever diet you’re eating, ditch the processed meat
  • The best test for heart health – a coronary artery calcium scan
    • “You owe it to yourself if you’re an athlete, executive, family person, man or woman, age 45 on. Go get that test once in your life, and just make sure your genetics and lifestyle haven’t thrown you a curveball.” – Dr. Joel Kahn

Supplements Mentioned

  • CoQ10 is notably hard to get from food (unless you’re regularly eating cow or pig heart)
    • It’s an antioxidant that promotes optimal mitochondrial health
    • It can also improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol
  • Many people don’t get adequate levels of magnesium from their diet, so it’s best to supplement

Intro

The Importance of Good Nutrition

  • “What we eat is fundamental to our well-being and performance, and that’s why it’s important to inform yourself from every possible angle”Ryan Flaherty 
  • “When it comes to appearance and performance, nutrition is a bigger factor than we give it credit for” – Ryan Flaherty 

Food is Identity

  • Our nutrition habits start to form during childhood, primarily influenced by our parent’s beliefs around what’s healthy/what’s not
    • In adulthood, our go-to comfort foods are often those we frequently ate at a young age
    • For this reason: “When it comes to food, our hardwiring is hard to change… The things we’re taught at a young age are hard to dislodge.” Ryan Flaherty 

How did Joel get into cardiology?

  • As a baby, he had a heart murmur (which fortunately ended up going away)
    • Because of this, Joel spent a lot of time seeing cardiologists throughout his younger years, sparking his interest in the practice

How does food affect the body?

  • “Food is fuel. Food is the gasoline of a car for our body.” – Dr. Joel Kahn
  • Once eaten, food’s components are absorbed relatively quickly
    • Our gastrointestinal tract is the first to react to what we eat
      • Our microbiomes, in particular, experience different responses when faced with a high-saturated fat meal vs. a high-complex carbohydrate meal
    • Then, food enters the bloodstream
      • “Within an hour of a meal, things are either happening favorably with your blood vessels or unfavorably” Dr. Joel Kahn
        • For example, if you eat a McDonald’s sausage sandwich, within just 45-60 minutes, your arteries malfunction (and this lasts for 6-7 hours)
  • “You’re either eating a diet that causes inflammation… or you can choose anti-inflammatory foods” Dr. Joel Kahn
    • “We know about inflammation and preventing inflammation. Food has an incredibly powerful impact on that.”

What anti-inflammatory foods should you eat more of?

  • Complex carbs
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados)
  • Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils)
  • POSSIBLY high-quality animal products
    • “We don’t know, scientifically, that grass-fed beef is less inflammatory than processed beef” – Dr. Joel Kahn

Heart Disease

  • There are 50-60k miles of arteries in our body that provide every tissue with blood
    • Over time, due to poor diet and lifestyle, arteries get clogged/damaged and lose function (this process is known as atherosclerosis)
      • No one is born with atherosclerosis, but it can occur as early as age 8-10 given specific genetic inputs (or as soon as age 18-20 if you’ve eat a crappy diet throughout your youth)
    • Inside the arteries, there’s a one-cell thick layer called the endothelium, which largely controls the atherosclerotic process
      • If you eat healthy, stay active, and don’t smoke – you’ll have normal blood pressure/good circulation/minimal clotting
      • But if not… uh oh
  • “The number one cause of death in men and women in every age group over 30 is the clogging of arteries” – Dr. Joel Kahn
    • 2,300 people/day die of cardiovascular disease EVERY day in the United States
    • Every year, ~700k Americans have a heart attack (close to the population of Seattle)

What plant-based foods should you eat more of?

  • Remember: G.B.O.M.B.S.
    • G – Greens
    • B – Beans (peas, lentils, and legumes)
    • O – Onions (and garlic)
      • Both of these are sulfur-rich foods which produce high levels of antioxidants in the body (i.e., glutathione)
    • M – Mushrooms (any and every kind)
      • There’s tons of data linking mushroom consumption to a reduced cancer risk
    • B – Berries (any and all)
      • They’re packed with antioxidants
    • S – Seeds (chia, hemp, flax, pumpkin, and sunflower)
  • Also: G.G.O.B.
    • G – Garlic
    • G – Giner
    • O – Onions
    • B – Broccoli

Protein on a Plant-Based Diet

  • “For the general public… the data states that, until you’re in your mid-60s or 70s, a naturally lower protein diet favors avoidance of disease and superior longevity” – Dr. Joel Kahn
    • That said, this probably isn’t the case for athletes (they need more protein)
  • Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are found in both plants AND meats (although the ratios may differ)
    • However, in addition to amino acids, plants contain many beneficial compounds (i.e., fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and carotenoids)
    • Animal foods often contain compounds that harm health (i.e., hormones and antibiotics)

How to Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

  • Start with just your breakfast 
    • Some options: A smoothie, oatmeal, chia pudding, or tofu scramble
  • Then, move on to making your lunch plant-based
    • It’s an excellent time for a salad: “You should really eat one salad bigger than your head every day with every color ion the world in it”Dr. Joel Kahn
  • Dinner is admittedly tougher to make plant-based
    • If you go out to eat, stick to the side dishes – mashed potatoes, broccoli, green beans, etc.
    • If you love chili, find a tasty bean chili recipe
    • If you love pizza, find a cheese-less pizza recipe
    • If you love burgers, there are tons of plant-based burger options (they may not be healthier, but they’re better for the environment)

The Optimal Diet

  • Ditch the processed meat (especially if you’re already unhealthy/overweight)
    • In 2015. the World Health Organization stated that processed meat causes colorectal cancer
    • Hospitals should absolutely stop serving processed meat to patients
  • Aim to have 18-19 plant-based meals/week and 2-3 meals of fish

Supplements

  • CoQ10 is notably hard to get from food (unless you’re regularly eating cow or pig heart)
    • It’s an antioxidant that promotes optimal mitochondrial health
    • It can also improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol
  • Many people don’t get adequate levels of magnesium from their diet, so it’s best to supplement

Stress & Heart Health

  • Stress raises blood pressure, cortisol levels, and blood sugar
    • It also accelerates the aging process
  • Joel’s advice: Find something to do that reduces your stress
    • What this is will differ for everyone; it might be meditation, exercise, going to church, a gratitude practice, etc.
    • Personally, Joel love the Kirtan Kriya meditation
      • It’s a short 12-minute meditation that slows telomere shortening (a marker of aging) and increases cognitive function 

The Best Heart Health Test

  • coronary artery calcium scan
    • It’s relatively cheap, but sometimes requires a physician’s script
    • You can get it done at just about any medium- to large-sized hospital in America
    • The higher the score, the worse your heart health
    • “You owe it to yourself if you’re an athlete, executive, family person, man or woman, age 45 on. Go get that test once in your life, and just make sure your genetics and lifestyle haven’t thrown you a curveball.” – Dr. Joel Kahn

Additional Notes

  • At the age of 18 in 1977, Joel went entirely plant-based
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