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Healthful Cooking Methods Use Water

Cooking foods by grilling, frying, baking or broiling forms known carcinogens called AGEs and PAHs. Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) are formed when sugars stick on fats or proteins; and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when amino acids bind to creatine. Researchers in Poland report that people ingesting large amounts of French fries and potato chips had a rise in oxidized LDL cholesterol and in markers of inflammation that are associate with increased risk for heart attacks (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2009).

The older you are, the less able your body is to remove AGEs and the more likely you are to suffer diseases of inflammation such as heart attacks and cancers. Another study of 172 healthy men and women who were divided into two age groups (18-45 and 60-80) showed that AGE levels were 35 percent higher in individuals age 60 and older (The Journals of Gerontology, April 2007). The amount of AGEs in their bodies was directly related to the amount of fried, broiled, and grilled foods eaten. Those with the highest levels of AGEs also had the highest levels of CRP (a blood test that measures inflammation). Inflammation increases risk for heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers.

AGEs can also form within your body when blood sugar levels rise too high. They cause all the terrible side effects of diabetes. When blood sugar levels rise too high, sugar sticks on the outer surface of cell membranes (AGE). Once there , the sugar can’t get off and is eventually converted to sorbitol which destroys the cell to cause blindness, deafness, heart attacks, strokes, and cancers.

Cooking with water prevents the formation of AGEs and PAHs. The most healthful cooking methods are steaming, simmering, stewing and any other technique that uses water or other liquids. Keep the fried, grilled, baked and broiled foods to a minimum in your diet.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What’s the best exercise program for a person with back pain?

People with back pain need to exercise as much as anyone else. The best sports are those that do not hurt when you do them. The bones of your spine are located one on top of the other, separated by pads called discs. Bones are much harder than discs, so when spinal bones are compressed and move closer together, they can flatten the discs like pancakes. Since the discs are shorter, they have to go somewhere else, so they widen and press on the nerves near them, causing pain. This is called a herniated disc. Anything that presses the bones closer together squashes the disc further and usually makes it hurt more. During running or jumping, the force of the foot striking the ground is transmitted up the leg to the back, which can compress the discs and cause pain.

Riding a bicycle, walking or swimming do not exert a jarring force on the discs to compress them, so these exercises are recommended for people with back pain as long they don’t hurt while they exercise. Doctors often recommend special exercises to flatten the lower back, strengthen the belly muscles and stretch the lower back muscles. The key to exercising when you have a compressed disc is to stop exercising when you feel pain. You may need to try several different activities to find the right one for you.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How does alcohol damage the liver and what can I do to protect my liver?

When you pour alcohol on cut skin, it hurts because alcohol damages cells. The pain is caused by alcohol binding to water and pulling the water molecule out of cells to damage them. Most alcohol that you drink goes to your liver because it is the only organ that can break down alcohol. The damage to liver cells turns on your immunity so your own antibodies and immune cells attack the liver as they would do to invading bacteria. This is called inflammation. A recent study from Yale shows that taking aspirin twice a day may help to prevent liver damage from alcohol by shutting down the prostaglandins that cause inflammation (Journal of Clinical Investigation, February 2009). However, both aspirin and alcohol can irritate the stomach, so anyone with stomach problems should not take either.

The generally accepted guideline is that up to two drinks a day will not cause harm, but more than that can damage the liver. A drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 2/3rds of a shot glass of any liquor.

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Recipe of the Week:

Quick Shrimp Curry

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 22nd, 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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