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Why Exercise Is Essential for Diabetics and Pre-Diabetics

Thirty-five percent of all Americans will develop diabetes, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, blindness, deafness, impotence, amputations, kidney failure and sudden death. Three studies show why virtually all diabetics should exercise. The first study shows that exercising before a meal markedly reduces the rise in blood sugar that usually peaks 20 minutes after you eat (Lipids in Health & Disease, October 2005). The second shows that exercise lowers HBA1C in diabetics (Journal of Obesity, October 2002), while the third shows that exercise lowers high blood pressure (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2005)

When you eat, your blood sugar level rises. In diabetics, most of the damage is done within 20 minutes after you eat because that’s the time that blood sugar levels are at their highest. The higher blood sugar rises, the more sugar sticks on cells. Once sugar is stuck on a cell, it can never get off. It is eventually converted to a poison called sorbitol that destroys the cell. This cell destruction causes all of the horrible side effects of diabetes.

Doctors measure the amount of sugar stuck on cells with a blood test called HBA1C. The first goal in treating diabetes is to use drugs and diet to get HBA1C below 6. Since blood sugar levels are highest 20 minutes after you eat, you should do everything possible to prevent the high rise in blood sugar that follows meals. The only places that your body can store sugar are in your muscles and your liver. After you eat, sugar goes from your intestines into your bloodstream. Then if your muscles are empty from exercise, the sugar can pass into your muscles. However, if your muscles are full because you do not exercise, the sugar has no place to go and blood sugar rises to very high levels to stick to cells and destroy your body.

Exercise is also vital for diabetics because it helps to control blood pressure. Eighty percent of diabetics die of heart disease, and anything that increases risk for heart attacks puts diabetics in danger. High blood pressure is a major risk for heart attacks and strokes. Since exercise lowers high blood pressure, it helps to prevent heart attacks and thus to keep diabetics alive.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is hydrolyzed soy the same thing as partially hydrogenated soybean oil?

No; "hydrolyzed" means that a chemical compound is split into smaller units in the presence of water; for example, sucrose is split into glucose and fructose. It's a benign process, even though it sounds similar to the "hydrogenation" we warn against. You'll see it primarily referring to additives such as hydrolyzed soy protein, which are harmless and used in such small quantities that they are not a significant factor in your diet.

Hydrogenation is the addition of hydrogen atoms in place of the double bonds between carbon atoms in fat molecules. "Hydrogenated" or "fully hydrogenated" means all the double bonds have been replaced; "partially hydrogenated" means some, but not all have been replaced with added hydrogen atoms. Fully hydrogenated oils are solid at room temperature (like Crisco) while partially hydrogenated ones are softer. Many processed foods and margarines use partially hydrogenated oils. Which is worse? Fully hydrogenated vegetable oils resemble ordinary saturated fats, while partially hydrogenated oils have a chemical structure that is found nowhere in nature, so your body doesn't know what to do with them. I avoid both types.

New US labeling laws requiring listing of trans fats have encouraged manufacturers to remove them from many products. Check the list of ingredients. Zero trans fats on the label does not always mean no trans fats.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are there any new treatments for frequent urination at night?

Yes, a study from Taiwan shows that a simple nasal spray controls nighttime urination in men who were not helped by drugs usually prescribed by physicians today. At night, the brains of most younger people produce a hormone called antidiuretic hormone that shuts down the kidneys. However, as men age, most have to get up at night to urinate. Some men have to do this more than six times a night, which interferes with sleep and makes them very tired during the day. Doctors prescribe muscle relaxants and some patients find that they help. However, a very large percentage of older men go from doctor to doctor and are unable to find a drug that will control their night-time urination. Researchers in Taiwan prescribed a nasal spray containing antidiuretic hormone to older men who urinated more than six times each night and had not been helped by conventional treatments (British Journal of Urology International, December 2005.) More than 85 percent improved in a very short time.


Football-watching party fare:
Zippy Black Bean Dip
Tri-Color Salsa or Dip
Tex-Mex Bean Dip

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

June 26th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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