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Cardiologist Joel Kahnís push for plant-based lifestyle is outlined in new book

March 19, 2018


We all know we should eat better.

Thatís the standard message from health professionals, dietitians and nutritionists. A sedentary lifestyle paired with foods that are highly caloric, high in fat and loaded with sodium is seen as nobodyís friend.

Adopting a plant-based style of eating is gaining popularity as a way to live healthier.

For some, the idea of a plant-based means bland tofu blocks, dairy-free cheese and vegetables all the time. But others see it as a stepping stone to losing weight, getting off of or reducing medications or increase endurance and better health.

It is obvious that the plant-based trend continues to be more visible given the appearance of vegetable burgers that actual "bleed" like beef burger to cheese and bacon alternatives and a plethora of nut milks.

Bloomfield-based vegan cardiologist Joel Kahn believes the tipping point toward more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle is happening now.

"Some enter it from the medical world, some from the environmental world, like James Cameron out in LA and some enter from the animal rights world, like the PETA group and others," Kahn says.

And now, performance has come into play, as more athletes are touting the benefits of a full or partial plant-based diet, Kahn says.

"Athletes are going to make the case for plant-based better than anyone. Thereís this explosion, even in our own town."

For example, Theo Riddick of the Lions is the keynote speaker at this yearís annual VegFest, which will be held in Novi, Mich., on April 29.

Riddick said the things that influenced him the most to switch to a h plant-based diet was watching the documentary "What the Health" on Netflix.

While he wasnít completely vegan throughout the entire season, he says changing up his diet to include more fruits and vegetables helped make a difference in performance and other things.

"I think it was just like basic things, like bloatiness," Riddick says. "I never felt bloated by any means and I felt like my body was more revved."

Riddick also says his energy level was a lot higher than normal.

"Before I always had to drink coffee in the morning. And when I started plant-based, I kind of strayed away from coffee and no longer needed it to be attentive."

Gone was also the fogginess he would start to feel the second half of the season.

It was replaced, he says, by having the natural energy. "Youíre never too high never too low," Riddick says.

As additional confirmation, Kahn also points to the recent Nike ad featuring Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics showing off his dribbling skills. In the ad, heís asked how he does it and he replies: "Simple. Plant-based diet."

Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback is well-known to follow a mostly plant-based regime. Heís even developed a line of meals with TB12 Sports and in partnership with Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal delivery service.

Bradyís meals, according to www.purplecarrot.com

David Booth plays left/right wing for the Detroit Red Wings. On December 1 he made the switch to a strictly plant-based diet, eliminating all meats.

"Iíve always been curious about whatís goes into the body," Booth says. "I wanted to be as nutrient dense as I could and Iíve always geared towards plants."

Booth, 33, doesnít have anything against good organic meats or wild game, heís a hunter himself. But he thought he would try veganism.

"I was strict and am still doing it," he says. "After one month I felt so good on it and decided do it for all of January too."

Booth, a full two-plus months into going vegan, says he eats vegetables, whole foods, grains, sprouts, grains and legumes.

"I just started eating more of them and eliminated the cheeses and the creams," he says. "I love cheese. Itís one of my favorite things, but I really haveníts had a super big craving for cheese or any kind of meat, since I stopped."

Since going plant-based, Booth says heís lost 8 to 10 pounds, feels great and lighter.

"Which has been a huge factor for me. I think the lighter you feel, the faster you youíre going to be in the game," he says. "The game is so fast right now. I think you need to be about as light and strong as you can and I feel both with what Iíve been doing lately."

Kahnís Center for Cardiac Longevity has locations in Bloomfield Hills and Grosse Pointe Farms. The centers focus is on reversing heart disease, and the plant-based diet plays a role.

When Kahn, 58, first sees a heart patient, he writes three things on his prescription pad for them: "On Netflix, you have to watch ĎForks Over Knives,í you have to watch ĎWhat the Healthí and you have to read one book."

That one book Kahn is recommending is his latest "The Plant-based Solution: Americaís Healthy Heart Docís Plan to Power your Health" (Sounds True, $22.95).

The book came out in January, a time when diet, exercise and health is on many minds.

What makes this book different than his others, he says, is that heís never written a book to "make the case for a diet totally of plant origin on multiple health measures like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer."

The book is also different because he believes heís the only cardiologist to ever a write a book that covers other aspects. "It covers the medical, environmental and animal rights topics and then adds on recipes to make it practical so you have at least a place to start for a day, for a week, for 3 weeks," Kahn says.

The book is packaged with about 150 pages that dives into the medical points and research of the benefits of going plant-based followed by 21-day meal plan with recipes.

For each day, there is one recipe each for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A sample day includes pancakes made with oat flour and applesauce, Soba Noodle soup and Mushrooms for lunch and a Quinoa Pizza for dinner. When it comes to eating plant-based, Kahn says most things havenít changed.

"The core of a healthy plant-based diet is going to come from the produce department and at farmers markets," Kahn says. Itís every fruit, every vegetable, every legume (which is thousands) and every whole grain (which is dozens)."

Beans factor in a lot in the recipes and in the book in general.

"Every place in the world where people live to 100 and beyond in a healthy manner, more than average, beans are the staple," Kahn says.

He credits beans for their fiber which is filling and lowering cholesterol. The Easy 3 Bean Chili, Kahn says, takes about 10 minutes to prepare.

"Yes, itís missing beef. But every time you put beans not beef youíve helped the environment. Every time you got beans not beef youíve helped your health."

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Kahnís heart and passion is not only in how being vegan is an all-around healthy lifestyle, but doing so can play a significant role in reversing chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

Within the pages of the book, Kahn presents several case studies with profound successes in combating and, in some cases, reversing numerous illnesses including gastric issues, diabetes, heart disease and lupus.

One of the case studies was former college athlete Marc Ramirez of Clinton Township, Mich., whoís plant-based "aha" moment came after watching the documentary "Forks Over Knives."

Ramirez was overweight and on several medications including twice daily insulin injections and oral medication to manage diabetes, which afflicted 7 siblings. Once Ramirez went plant-based, within several months he was off all medication and lost weight.

While following a plant-based lifestyle is something Kahn and his wife, Karen, have done for 40 years, itís not all heís done.

He owns, with his son Daniel and wife, the popular GreenSpace Cafť in Ferndale, which is devoted to an all plant-based menu. Kahn calls it his "401k cafť." In March a second, GreenSpace to-go location is expected to open on Woodward at 14 mile in Royal Oak.

Kahn, says he works 18 hours a day and sleeps 7. He and his wife are nearing 60 and currently are on no prescription drugs, work out every day and he says their "weights are at an optimal level and we look fairly youthful."

"I really give credit to just falling into this and then studying it when it became obvious there is some reason being on it," Kahn says. "It not just coincidence."

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GREENSPACE SUPERFOOD SALAD

Serves: 2 (as an appetizer) / Prep time: 20 minutes / Total time: 20 minutes

6 ounces baby kale

1/2 cup sliced organic beets

1/2 cup organic edamame

1/2 cup organic cucumber julienned

1/2 cup cubed organic tofu squares (optional)

1 cup quinoa

1/4 cup goji berries

Few pinches of any kind of fresh sprouts

1 tablespoons hemp seeds

1/4 cup walnuts or cashews or vital seed mix

1/2 avocado sliced

BALSAMIC DRESSING

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Arrange the salad greens in a serving dish. Place the dressing ingredients in a jar, add lid and shake vigorously. Toss the salad and dressing together or serve the dressing on the side.

From The Plant-Based Solution" Americaís Healthy Heart Docís Plan to Power Your Health" by Joel K. Kahn, MD (Sounds True, $22.95).

GREEN SMOOTHIE

Makes: 1 to 2 servings / Prep time: 15 minutes / Total time: 15 minutes

1/2 cup raw old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup frozen spinach

1/2 cup frozen mango

1 banana, peeled

1/2 lime, peeled (or just the juice squeezed in)

2 tablespoons hemp seeds/ground flax seeds

1 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk or wate (or a mix of the two)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more liquid if needed.

From The Plant-Based Solution" Americaís Healthy Heart Docís Plan to Power Your Health" by Joel K. Kahn, MD (Sounds True, $22.95).

VEGGIE LASAGNA

Serves: 4 to 6 / Prep time: 30 minutes / Total time: 1 hour

Splash of vegetable broth

1 onion, peeled, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 handfuls of fresh spinach

1 cup sauteed mixed veggies of choice

1 jar (26 ounces) marinara sauce, preferably oil-free

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained, rinsed and mashed

6 gluten-free lasagna noodles

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, ad the broth and saute the onion, garlic, spinach and other veggies for a few minutes.

Pour a little of the marinara in the dish. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top.

Mix the sauteed veggies with the mashed cannellini beans by hand or in food processor.

Place half of the mixture on top of the noodles, cover with sauce.

Place 3 more noodles on top, finish layering the veggie mixture, top with sauce and sprinkle the nutritional yeast.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until noodles are soft.

From The Plant-Based Solution" Americaís Healthy Heart Docís Plan to Power Your Health" by Joel K. Kahn, MD (Sounds True, $22.95).

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