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Endurance Tests Predict Future Blood Pressure

NOTE: The entire GOOD FOOD BOOK is now online, free. See below.

In 1976, 413 high school runners in Finland competed in a 2000-meter race. At the time of the race and in a follow-up study twenty-five years later, the faster runners had much lower blood pressures than the slower ones (International Journal of Sports Medicine, July-August 2005.)

The researchers wanted to know whether a maximal endurance test to measure aerobic fitness in adolescence would predict high blood pressure in adults. This is the first study to show that faster teen age runners have lower blood pressures and that the lower blood pressures persist long after they stop running. In their teens, the faster runners were more fit than the slower runners, and their dedication may have persisted into later life. Or the faster teen-age runners may have had some physiological advantage that kept their blood pressure lower and made them less likely to suffer heart attacks in later life. Perhaps the faster runners were genetically superior to the slower runners, or something in their lifestyles made them faster as teenagers and also caused them to have lower blood pressures throughout their lives. Either way, the findings of this study should encourage early participation in sports and lifelong exercise.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are we any closer to understanding the cause of prostate cancer?

Virtually all North American men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough, and a faulty diet may be the cause. Lack of vitamin D appears to increase risk of prostate cancer because it impairs the body’s ability to remove cancer cells (Journal of Clinical Oncology, November 2005). Since calcium blocks the activation of vitamin D and milk is full of calcium, even vitamin D-enriched milk increases risk for prostate cancer. Saturated fat and high doses of zinc also increase risk. Dietary substance which appear to reduce prostate cancer risk include lycopene, carotenoids, isoflavones, polyphenols and other phytochemicals found in vegetables; vitamin E, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids found in seeds and fish. At this time, a diet to reduce risk for prostate cancer should include a wide variety of plant-based foods and seafood, the same diet recommended to prevent heart attacks – plus sunshine for vitamin D.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What’s the connection between obesity and diabetes?

A paper in the Journal of Cell Metabolism (March 2005), shows how being overweight can cause diabetes. Being overweight fills your fat cells so they can’t store much more fat. Then the body stores fat in muscles and liver. This causes muscles to produce a chemical called PPAR-Alpha which causes muscles cells to bring in and burn more fat, which prevents muscles from using sugar for energy. So blood sugar levels rise. The fat in muscle cells also blocks insulin receptors from grabbing onto insulin which prevents insulin from driving sugar into cells. This drives blood sugar levels even higher.

Daniel P. Kelly, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Research at the Washington University in St Louis, genetically engineered two different types of mice: one type that made extra PPAR-alpha in their muscles and another that lacked that molecule. They found that mice that overproduce PPAR-alpha become diabetic even though they are thin, because the muscle cells can burn only fat for energy, which prevents muscle cells from using sugar. This causes blood sugar levels to rise very high and the mice to become diabetic. On the other hand, mice who did not make PPAR-alpha grew very fat, but did not develop diabetes. If the scientists could make a drug to block PPAR- alpha, perhaps they could prevent diabetes. This research explains why the majority of people who develop diabetics are also obese. More


Dear Dr. Mirkin: The only thing I don't understand about your wonderful e-Zine is why you keep featuring recipes containing potatoes - ordinary, white potatoes. The Tufts people don't recommend them because they're empty calories. Shouldn’t I eat sweet potatoes, but not the white ones?

Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes contain a variety of nutrients. Here’s the comparison:
7-ounce white potato with skin: 220 calories, 5g protein, 51g carbs, 20mg calcium, 115mg phosphorus, 2.8g iron, 16mg sodium, 844mg potassium, 4g fiber, .22mg thiamin, .07mg riboflavin, 3.3mg niacin, 16mg vitamin C
7-ounce sweet potato: 208 calories, 3.5g protein, 49g carbs, 56mg calcium, 110mg phosphorus, 1g iron, 20mg sodium, 693mg potassium, 5g fiber, 4350 RE vitamin A, .14mg thiamin, .13mg riboflavin, 1.2mg niacin, 49mg vitamin C.

So, as you can see, sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A, and have a little more vitamin C and calcium (but less iron) than white potatoes; otherwise they're pretty much equal. We eat the potato skins as well as the flesh; the skins of many vegetables and fruits are concentrated sources of nutrients and fiber. If you’re diabetic or trying to lose weight, eat your root vegetables WITH other foods, not alone as snacks.

Here are some of Diana’s favorite recipes using sweet potatoes:

Sweet Potato Salad with Pineapple
Sweet Potato Bisque (a lovely creamy soup)
Sweet Potato Curry


I've put the entire contents of one of our most popular books, THE GOOD FOOD BOOK, on our website. It's FREE.

The Good Food Book has 100 recipes, food lists, help for special situations such as losing weight or controlling blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes, and lots more.

If you like having the book online, I will add more of our eBooks and books to over the next several weeks. Please send your comments to

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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