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Exercise Throughout Life Prevents Heart Attacks

Many research papers show that middle-aged and older women who are physically active are far less likely to suffer from heart attacks, the leading cause of death in women in America today. However, there has been very little research on the effects of physical activity during young adulthood on exercise patterns during middle and later age, and whether they influence heart attack risk in later life. Many years ago, researchers at Harvard Medical School recruited nearly 40,000 healthy female professionals, older than 45 years, for the Women's Health Study. Findings from this ongoing study show that women who exercise when they are younger are far more likely to exercise when they are older and are far less likely to die of heart attacks (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2005).

Women who exercised 12 months a year during high school years were more than twice as likely to exercise when they became middle aged and were also almost half as likely to suffer a heart attack as women who did not exercise in later life. So if you have young daughters, encourage them to start an exercise program that they can keep the rest of their lives. If you are a middle-aged woman and are not exercising regularly, get started now. It’s never to late; even 90-year-old women who begin a supervised exercise program can see dramatic strength gains in as little as six weeks.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Does drinking alcohol increase my risk for osteoporosis?

Yes; the person most likely to suffer from osteoporosis has pale skin, is very thin and drinks a lot of alcohol. Pale people often do not get enough sunlight to meet their needs for the bone-strengthening vitamin D; skinny people often miss essential nutrients necessary for bone health; and heavy drinking inhibits new bone from forming (Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, December, 2005).

Bones are always remodeling. Certain cells called osteoblasts continuously bring calcium into bones, while osteoclasts continuously take calcium out of bones. However, heavy drinking inhibits osteoblasts from forming new bone. So far, most studies show that people can take up to two drinks a day without harming their health. A drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or two thirds of a shot glass of hard alcohol. However, exceeding that amount can hasten the onset of osteoporosis, in which the slightest trauma can break bones and they will heal much more slowly than normal.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are the low-carbohydrate diets the most healthful way to lose weight?

Some people increase their risk for heart attacks, cancers and other diseases by markedly restricting all carbohydrates because they think that all carbohydrates are harmful. Restricting good carbohydrates deprives a person of necessary nutrients that increase their susceptibility to disease. Bad carbohydrates are ones that cause an immediate high rise in blood sugar levels. Good carbohydrates do not do this. A recent report explains the difference (Current Atherosclerosis Reports, November 2005). Good carbohydrates are the ones found in nature and usually do not cause a high rise in blood sugar levels. Bad carbohydrates pass immediately from the stomach into the intestines and cause a high rise in blood sugar.

Whole grains have a thick fiber coating that releases starches and sugars very slowly so blood sugar levels do not rise too high. However, grinding a whole grain to form flour destroys the seed coat and allows the blood sugar rapidly to enter the intestines where it is absorbed almost immediately to cause a high rise in blood sugar. When you eat an orange, the solid particles go into your stomach, where the pyloric sphincter closes and prevents all solid particles from entering the intestines until they are broken down into a soup that is then allowed to pass. However, liquid orange juice passes directly into the intestine where it is absorbed immediately. For most healthy people and most diabetics, it is perfectly healthful to eat large amounts of the good carbohydrates: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. The carbohydrates to limit or avoid are foods made with flour, fruit juices, sugared soft drinks, and foods that contain added sugars. Read Why Whole Grains are Better than Any Flour
and my recommended diet.

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Sweet potatoes make wonderful hearty salads! Try these two recipes, then invent your own. Cooked sweet potato cubes can also be tossed into any green salad.

Sweet Potato Salad with Pineapple
Sweet Potato-Cranberry Salad

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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