About Dr. Joel Kahn:
Having practiced traditional cardiology since 1983, Dr. Kahn made a name for himself partly because of a change in his approach and focus on being a holistic cardiologist. You may know him because of his appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast, the most famous podcast in the world.
He passionately lectures throughout the country about the health benefits of a plant-based anti-aging dietinspiring a new generation of thought leaders to think scientifically and critically about the body’s ability to heal itself through proper nutrition. One of the world’s top cardiologists, Dr. Joel Kahn has treated thousands of acute heart attacks during his career.
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Hey podcast listeners. This is Omar M. Khateeb, Head of Growth here at Gentem Health. With another episode, with journey to private practice, I have a very special guest today. Someone who I first heard about on a Joe Rogan podcast in an extremely heated, insightful and interesting debate about meat versus vegan dietary dietary plans.
He’s someone who has a fantastic brand and obviously an amazing reach. And that’s Dr. Joel Kahn. Dr. Khan. Thank you so much for joining the podcast. Look like it looks like you have a beautiful day over there in Detroit. Yeah. We were having summertime, you know, we paid the price, but, uh, it was supposed to rain all week and it’s been like this 85 and sunny all week.
So, uh, if anybody has talent go into the weather prediction business, cause you’ve got a lot of opportunity right now. They’re failing to get there. Right? I live, I live in a small inland lake. There’s a lot of them in Michigan. So having water in your backyard is having for four months. That’s not bad at all.
So before we get into today’s topic, which is, you know, how did you get to a point of getting on, on a, on the planet’s biggest podcast, which is the Joe Rogan show, and more importantly, how did you exactly the parents of physicians to go on such a, you know, high level podcast to have essentially a debate.
And he did it in a very respectful way and more importantly, in a, in a way that you did not back down. You know, and you educate your audience and in my opinion influence. But before then I want to hear an origin story, like who is Dr. Joel Kahn? Where are you from? How did you get into medicine? And how did you get to whatever?
Yeah. And I’ll keep that short and sweet. Um, and you know, at age 62, I’m very lucky with the practice I have, which is relevant to your business, but let me get you there real quick. I grew up in suburban Detroit. Um, I had a murmur as a child, a little note. My mother started taking me to a pediatric cardiologist.
It never proved to me anything, but by age 10, if you said, what do you want to do? I would have said, I want to be a heart doctor. Like Dr. Green. I thought it was all pretty cool stuff. Of course, they never had a cut on me or hurt me if that was the case. I probably would have become a plaintiff attorney and sued them all.
But I had a good experience with docs. Um, and so I, and then five. By good fortune two things happen when I was 18, I grew up in a home where we kept kosher. Didn’t need him. Uh, cheeseburgers. And when I attended the university of Michigan, I converted to a vegetable area in vegetarian, vegan, everything but me, cause there wasn’t any other option and I’ve never altered that path.
So I’m a 44 year plant-based theater. I’m still alive, very healthy, very grateful for that. But in the field of cardiology, that proved to be quite a good move. And I got into med school at age 18 and the rapid track program. So I got through all that stuff. And I was, you know, in practice by age 29 as a cath lab, interventional cardiologist, Stan started that, but I was plant-based the whole time.
And I was teaching people. Two things happened, uh, in 19. Well, one thing I’m in 1990, Dr. Dean Ornish published something called the lifestyle heart trial, but a research study came out that whole food plant-based eating combined with meditation, stress management exercise. Had this powerful impact on her directories.
So I have this funny dual track and I was in private practice. I had a fight. I went to big university programs where they were grooming you to get your PhD and academic tracks. It’s just wonderful stuff, but I didn’t want that. I did everything I could to stay clinical and. I’ve always had a university appointment.
I’m a full professor of medicine at Wayne state university. I teach students, I want to private practice. I wanted, I’m a capitalist. Sorry. I believe if you own your own garden, you grow more fruits and vegetables than if, uh, the government owns the garden. Um, and I’ve been in a variety of situations, but always private practice, which is expensive and risky and uncertain.
Uh, but I, you know, I worked harder than most, to be honest, I knocked on doors, like crazy to introduce myself when I started practice and if they’d off. So I had done local TV in Detroit. That it’s another story, but I had been on two or three times a month with their local Fox news channel talking about a health.
Um, I’d write in a lot of blogs. I’d written two or three books already practice was picking up, you know, and everybody kind of hopes to be on national TV. I did not have any. And in the summer of 2018, I was in New York city and I reached out the Instagram messenger or something to John Joseph, John Joseph, you know, at that time, a 55 year old punk rocker, the CRO mags, uh, big time plant-based athlete, big social following had written a few books and we met for breakfast and had a green juice and just hit it off.
He’s, uh, a lower east side. Kind of legend a real tough upbringing. He’d been on rich roll podcast. Many times I’d been on three times or so by then, uh, talking about plant-based science and we hit it off and it turns out a week or two later he was on Rogan. I don’t know how that happened. And they, as it would be expected from Joe Rogan, they talked about veganism for five minutes and they talked about punk rock and athletics.
For the rest of the 90 minutes, what Rogan apparently turned to him and said, you know, who do you know in the doctor world, I want to debate paleo versus vegan. And I want a really high level. And maybe just on the last vegan doctor that Joseph had run into. Cause he knows lots of them. He goes, Joel Kahn, you gotta reach out to Joel Kahn.
So I was at a plant-based meeting, um, in Asheville, North Carolina with rip vessels. And I get an email and it’s like, friggin, it’s not Joe Rogan. It’s this, this, this, then we’re inviting you on. And I was like dancing all over the place. I was not a big Rogan fan. I had listened to three hour podcasts, but everybody knows who Joe Rogan is.
Of course I, you know, and they gave me about six weeks to be in LA. And I’m a student. I mean, I got through med school, I got through residency. I got to. I’d written books. So I really dug in to say I had two goals and you did very kindly hit. I want to, I did not want to be the angry vegan I did not want to slash and burn Rogan for being a hunter and eating meat.
I did not want to destroy my opponent who actually comes across as a gentle soul aggressor. He’s a pretty tough, he’s pretty tough and pretty cocky. Um, you know, there was a one-two punch to my appearance. I’ll tell you about it. And then I wanted it to be scientific. What understandable to the public. I just didn’t want his crowd to turn that podcast off and say, there’s another ass I would say, well, I appreciate you saying that.
You know, because of, and I think I mentioned we had a little interruption, the video air, this courtroom parents, you know, and just in your home personality, I mean, I can control my temper 99.9% of the time I can take a punch and I don’t have to punch back always. Uh, God knows an imperfect human being. So I had about six weeks and I knew of a series that you can still watch on YouTube.
Plant positive.com and a mysterious person never revealed graded about 180 YouTube on the history of why plant-based dating was an advantage. And I’m talking about this guy, whoever he is, had dug out references from the 1860s and seventies in 1910 stuff nobody ever sees. And it’s there for everybody.
And I had been through watching every single one of those, uh, YouTube a couple of years earlier. I think they were put up around 2010, 2011. So I said, I’m going to go through those again. And then I found some other resources online. Um, I knew the topic was gonna be over the chemistry. Saturated fat, healthy, unhealthy.
This is a debate that’s been raging in the scientific world. Very much influenced by money from big food, big pharma, um, saturated fats does matter. Doesn’t matter. And really, I just, I had hundreds of medical articles. I had this series of YouTube, is that in themselves often had 20, 30 medical references.
Um, I actually, if anybody goes to, and this is not. A promotional statement, but I have a website Dr. Joel kahn.com, D R J O E L K H n.com. There’s a red box there. I haven’t taken it down my notes to prepare for the Joe Rogan podcast, because it actually is in and of itself. An amazing library of other people’s research work.
Yeah. A blog where this plant positive, uh, secret individual who did all this. Quirky work, uh, and you know, and knew also nobody can know everything. I mean, I could, I’ll just say this. It wasn’t clear. We weren’t told to bring PowerPoints, um, and actual articles. I figured I did have a laptop with me when I met, uh, Chris Kresser at Joe Rogan in studio.
At that time, it was in the valley of LA Woodland Hills. I think it was now he’s an office. Uh, he was moved. Um, but we knew we would have laptops and I could access that reference on my own website if I needed. It turns out Chris Kresser had been on the show before and brought some PowerPoints and there was an opportunity to put them up there, um, and, uh, demonstrate.
So he was technologically a little bit more advanced, but very ago. And at the end of the day, you know, how many people did you really influence? Did you really change your mind? And so that’s how it happened in, in leading up. It sounds like you started with sort of a large body of work of, of just research from there.
You kind of narrow it down to say, here’s the areas that they’re probably going to ask about and debate me on. So I should have at least a go-to reference or some cause what I found, what I found about your answers was that, you know, you did not. Skip over specific features. Can you hear the reference?
Why it’s important, the body of work, right. And how it translate, which was great for an audience who’s non-scientific for me, I have the luxury that I, well, halfway went through med school, so I at least knew what you were talking about, but most people don’t and I thought he did a very good job of doing that.
How did you get to that point? Cause that’s a lot of information, right? Well, I w I was, uh, I based my approach. Again, cause you always learn on the shoulders of giants. Um, I have a lot of respect for a professor at university of Southern California, Dr. Valter Longo, and he has a wonderful book called the longevity diet in 2008.
And he has this little construct. I mean, this is one of the most eminent research and professors, uh, on nutrition in the world. And he says, you know, one study doesn’t ever shift the entire world’s perspective on any topic, vitamin C sunshine, radios, whatever he goes. It’s, you know, it’s the entirety of the literature have respect for all those that contributed to literature and he breaks it down.
He calls it the five pillars of London. What’s the biochemistry that suggests in this case is meat healthy enough? What’s the biochemistry say? And we can talk about TMAO and saturated fat and new five GC. These are technical terms. What does the randomized studies say? Well, very often in nutrition, there’s very few really good, large randomized studies are hard to do.
What does the epidemiology say? That’s where people kill each other. Because epidemiologic studies are very much based on who’s included and what other criteria who’s excluded. You can twist things if you really want to, uh, what, what old people do that’s called centenarian studies, blue zone studies, you know, are blue zones, meat, meat, heavy paleo kind of, uh, uh, communities.
Are they more plant forward based community and they are more planned for based. None of them are. And then he talks finally about big picture. Uh, what’s good for the environment. What’s good for the world population. And obviously there’s issues there about meat and plants in terms of environmental sustainability.
So I came in with that construct. There happens to be a Nobel prize winning physician. I trained with Michael Brown. He won a Nobel prize on cholesterol and statins in 1985. And I was in Dallas at that time training as a cardiologist, he has exactly this. Construct he calls it, uh, the four foundations of science and maybe it was too high level.
And you know, what I clearly got pushed around was why are you talking about the 1960s? Why don’t you tell us about the latest study? And I mean, I think I stood my ground as good as I could in that situation, because really on a topic like nutritional science, particularly. Um, it’s, it’s built on generation after generation drew, generation of science and some of the best studies on, for example, you add saturated fats, your diet, more butter, more egg, yolk, more cheese.
What’s going to happen to your cholesterol. Those studies were done in the 1960s order called metabolic ward studies at the bachelor Institute of health. There’s over 390 of them there they’ve been lumped together in the late seventies and a med analysis. You can’t, you can’t do that stuff again. You don’t want to do that stuff again.
So, I mean, you know, if you don’t get the foundation, you’re not going to build a very strong house, which is basically, I probably could have said that more eloquently. And Chris Kresser was talking to the latest study and the Australian study. And no, actually there were studies. He mentioned, I didn’t hear it was no human being as that, you know, artificial intelligence to do that.
And I think he clearly misrepresents of the studies. At the end of the day, you know, uh, the point was made because as you know, from having watched episode 1, 1 75, we probably spent two that the episode went almost four hours. So typically it’s a 90 minute packets. We were on three hours and 45 minutes with no bathroom break.
Uh, everybody was well behaved, uh, overall, um, and, um, we spent two hours on one topic, saturated fat. What’s the big. And your Rogan was in, uh, was actually in a bad mood in poor health that day. He had had knee surgery that morning. It was still under a little bit of a sedative. And really, it was like, you know, uh, his, his WWF role.
So you heard what he said? What do you think you heard what you said? What do you think? I mean, it wasn’t necessarily his most insightful, uh, questioning back and forth, but, um, Yeah, you’re right. Ultimately I think it was seen by 20, 30 million people. Um, now when I say it was a one-two punch and that was not organized, um, Rogan, and I’m not sure why invited James Wilkes is often called lightning wealth is the, uh, athlete that was featured and produced the game changers movie 2019.
And he invited him on with Chris, Chris. To keep the conversation going and probably appropriate for a cage fighter, a very educated cage fighter, um, uh, background Wilkes was, was at pressure’s throat and just did what I couldn’t do and come away as a sophisticated, reasonable physician, James Wilks. Isn’t a reasonable physician.
He’s a trained killing machine. That’s converting stuff into a pretty good plant-based. Yeah. And, uh, he, you know, he somehow added a little to the luster that I had been on because during out many of Chris and I like Chris Kresser, I’m not about putting them down, but a minute of his arguments. Pretty weak and pretty spurious when you really look the entire day, uh, which is pretty impressive.
They, if anybody had the fortitude to watch those two episodes back to back, which probably would be about six hours of, uh, audio or, or YouTube, uh, it’s not YouTube, Spotify. I don’t know where you find Rogan right now in terms of his videos, but it would be a real education. And I got to point out a couple of, you know, a couple of things, because this was essentially what made me want to like, reach, reach out to you.
One, you know, it’s over a very contentious topic and I thought that you did a fantastic job, you know, in your preparation, um, coming, coming prepared to reference things and not sort of speak in generalities. Like so many people say like, oh, this one study. And it’s like, well, what, what, when was the study done?
What was the basis? You know, you did a fantastic job there. Plus the part that I thought, I think a lot of physicians can learn from it doesn’t matter whether you’re into vegan or a meat diet, you know, whatever, just learning from your interview, which was you, you call things out and pushed back, but in a way that did not make you seem weak or threatened or was disrespectful to, to, uh, Chris or Rogan.
And I thought that that was, that was very much like, I feel like it’s an art form in, in terms of intellectual debate. You know. Yeah. You know, I, I think it’s very unlikely I’ll ever get invited back on Rogan. I’d like to, just to talk about heart disease and heart disease. Why don’t you think he’ll be A’s and hunter?
Um, yeah. I, you know, I don’t think he enjoyed the whole experience. I really don’t know. Um, But, um, but I appreciate your comments, you know, uh, did it change my life to be on a Rogan? And it is so many people have seen it and a lot of 27 year old cross fitters come up to me and say, you’re a dude, you’re the guy.
And you know, it’s fun. Has it built my practice? Now, most of my. People on Medicare really knows know it, it didn’t leave any didn’t lead to any big Hollywood contract. Uh, you know, a lot of times these one-time wonder appearances. I was on Dr. Oz once you know that doesn’t change your life, you know, when you have, and I think that’s important to note is that a lot of people see these things going on, Dr.
Oz, going on, Joe Rogan, everything. And the fact of the matter is it’s great. But it’s, it’s not going to change things. And I think what’s this, what’s the wisdom in this interview was pointed out earlier, which is what actually makes a change in your practice and your business, whether you’re a physician or not is just being really damn good at what you do and letting the work speak for itself, because it’s all started from a peer of yours who respected your work and talked about right.
I agree, you know, and having a network being involved in your community would be now digital, be better if it were, you know, high touch community of going to charity events and, um, other activities in the community. I mean, nothing replaces that obviously doing fine work, cause it’s always word of mouth is the most important I happen to have, uh, Hired a company a few years ago, and this is private practice.
When my patients leave my office, they immediately get a text message to rate the visit. And this company distributes it on Google and Yelp and Healthgrades. I didn’t have that before. And, you know, Hundreds and hundreds of five star reviews and they’re authentic. I mean, I am blown away when I get a report once a week by the comments.
I mean, you know, and then I’m aggressive. I share them all over my digital platform everywhere because I’m grateful for them. And they are ultimately the best marketing you can have is, you know, five stars and comments. It’s about the quality of care. So nothing. What platform do you personally feel like you spend the most time on because you, you know, you enjoy it, the most gain value out of it.
Is it Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, biggest following on Instagram. Um, I lose people when I don’t talk about broccoli and I talk about other critical matters. I don’t announce who I’m voting for. No presidential races. Um, but I talk about the need to protect freedom of speech, freedom of medical care, freedom of practice.
Um, but so Instagram, you know, is important to me. Um, I built a very big LinkedIn following because I do executive health, executive cards. What’s the title? What’s the title of the book. Yeah. Dead execs don’t get bonuses, you know, and it speaks to, it speaks to anybody, but you know, the title is for that. Um, I’ve spent my most time on Twitter.
I just find doctors have gravitated to have conversations. Yeah. Twitter cardios later. Yeah, I do that. And cardio nerds is some young students that do a really good job. But, um, it’s a little more gentlemanly I used to about a year and a half ago. I was like, it was like just a fight on Twitter all the time, but it was the saturated fat paleo MI vegans.
And I was getting beat up all the time. I didn’t really care. Now it’s evolved to really good science, vaccine science, COVID science, new cardiology trials. And it’s a little more gentlemanly even though there’s very disparate views. So cardiology is huge portion of Twitter. And just to tell people too, I got a, you gotta be aggressive.
I noticed I was getting emails from something called mass shop. M D M a S H U P. Um, I forget who they’re owned by doc wire or something, but kind of like, uh, some of the other platforms I was getting an email a week from a few different docs. I reached out, there was a little place. Do you want to be an expert?
So I now send out and it’s based on Twitter posting. I send out an email a week that I’ve learned how to craft for them. And it goes to 20,000 physicians and it lets me. So what were the five, six most important tweets that week of my 400 tweets that week? Cause I tweet a lot. Um, I tweet all kinds of articles, all kinds of research.
And I share all over. It’s really been a fun thing because I have very different views than most of the people that are posting through mashup. And you know, it’s it, you know, if you have opinions and you don’t have a platform. Um, and what I do is I also repurpose repurpose. You wrote a blog for this site, put it on your practice site.
What did on LinkedIn? Um, three years later, changed it a little bit updated and use it over here. You know, you can’t possibly always be grading. You can update and make by re-purposing, um, is really key. So, um, I repurposed my mashup. She’ll see my mash up. Emailed to physicians copied by me and to LinkedIn copy that if the ant people actually have responded very, uh, very strongly and positively to those emails, because they’re very, you know, they’re five top science articles.
People appreciate that I’ve curated for them. And I think, you know, that’s, that’s the interesting thing. And that’s what I really like is that, you know, you’re you, you know, so my father actually was a general surgeon for over 35 years, had his private practice. Um, but you remind me of, of, you know, the. The kind of medicine that I grew up, which, which was you, you’re, you’re a physician, you own your own practice.
You’re an active member in the community. You know, people look to you for advice and guidance. And I think you’ve done that in a way that scales. You know, through the, not only the podcast appearance, but obviously you’ve written books, you have a website and then you were adopting. I mean, look, you just said, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re six years old, so you’re not like fresh out of residency, but you are adopting these new channels and, and, and learning them and learning them very well.
And I think that a lot of physicians. Uh, I have to learn, I got to get broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, squat. I haven’t decided to dance to music yet. There’s some things God did not, you know, you’ve got to draw a line somewhere. Right? I know. I, uh, I see some funny stuff by, uh, lawyers and doctors.
Yeah, no. And, and I think that, I think that’s interesting, especially the concept that. You can’t, you can’t just, whether it’s a publication or any committee, you can’t just put it out there once and just kind of leave it there. Right? Cause there’s things that could be repurposed and used in a variety of ways.
And I think what’s interesting is that as a physician, if you do this well, and you get into the discipline of doing this weekly and getting creative and not just, uh, you know, you know, being, and just being patient, you kind of create a digital version of yourself in which can help educate you because patients are taking online.
Right. And so either you, as the expert, as a physician, find a way to provide the correct narrative and information, so visit. So patients can make the right decisions or somebody else will somebody else. Who’s not a physician who has their own biases and their own agenda, you know, and that’s where you end up with a lot of this information before you go, where can people.
Yeah, probably the best side of it. I have a central website, Dr. Joel kahn.com, but it’s Dr. J O E L K a H n.com and links to my practice links to my social media, lots of blogs, a couple of clips from the doctors and doctor eyes and things like that. Saccharides his birthday. Oh, happy birthday. Birthday, Ms.
Yeah. Well, perfect with Dr. Khan. Thank you so much for coming on. This has been another episode of journey, private practice. I’m your host over at the table. We’ll see you next time.