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Fructose More Likely than Glucose to Cause Diabetes

Sugared drinks are fattening because the human brain does not recognize liquid sugar as calories to make you eat less food. We get our sugar in drinks in three forms: glucose, fructose and sucrose (glucose and fructose bound together in a single molecule). Now a report from the University of California Davis shows that taking in too much fructose increases your risk for diabetes and heart attacks (Journal of Clinical Investigation, May 2009). Thirty-two overweight men and women drank 25 percent of their daily energy requirements in either fructose or glucose- sweetened drinks. In 12 weeks, both groups gained similar amounts of weight, but the people taking fructose-sweetened drinks had higher triglycerides and more abdominal fat, and were more resistant to insulin. All three factors precede diabetes which markedly increases risk for heart attacks.

The subjects were fed drinks that contained only glucose or fructose, so this study will not help you make good beverage choices. Virtually all sweetened beverages contain both fructose and glucose. Soft drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup have 55 to 58 percent fructose, while fruit juices and beverages sweetened with table sugar contain equal parts fructose and glucose. I recommend the following:

1) Take sugared drinks only when you are exercising or within a half hour of finishing exercising. All sugar-sweetened beverages increase risk for insulin resistance (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, April 2009). Contracting muscles are exquisitely sensitive to insulin and therefore help protect you from the high rise in blood sugar that causes the liver to make triglycerides, that block insulin receptors that cause the pancreas to release huge amounts of insulin that causes fat to be deposited in the belly.

2) When you are not exercising, quench your thirst with water or non-calorie beverages. Eat whole fruits rather than taking in your sugar in drinks. Fruit with its pulp does not cause as high a rise in blood sugar as do sugared drinks (including fruit juices). The higher your blood sugar rises, the more sugar sticks to the surface of cells, causing cell damage. An orange satisfies your daily requirement for vitamin C, has 2.8 grams of fiber and 64 calories from 17 grams of sugar.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I exercise heavily but still have high blood pressure. Do I need to take drugs? High blood pressure causes premature death from heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. Exercise and a high-plant diet are effective ways to lower high blood pressure. However, if your blood pressure is still high after you have done your best with lifestyle changes, your doctor will probably recommend that you take drugs. Many exercisers and even elite competitive athletes suffer from high blood pressure and should take medication (Journal of Clinical Hypertension, April.2009). High blood pressure is dangerous when your systolic blood pressure does not drop below 120 in the evening before you go to bed.

Angiotensin receptor blockers are the drugs of choice for exercisers because they do not hinder athletic performance and may even enhance it. ACE inhibitors are also safe for athletes with the exception that as many as 25 percent will suffer coughing when they take them. Beta blockers are not recommended for athletes or heavy exercisers because they slow heart rate, tire you during exercise, and impair performance. Diuretics are very safe, but when you take them, you will start each exercise session dehydrated which will make you tire earlier.

Common brand names of Angiotensin Receptor Blockers: Atacand, Avapro, Benicar, Cozaar, Diovan, Micardis, Teveten

ACE Inhibitors: Accupril, Aceon, Benazepril, Capoten, Captopril, Mavik, Monapril Ramipril, Univasc, Vasotec

Beta blockers: Betapace, Blocadren, Cartrol, Coreg, Corgard, Corzide, Inderal, Inderide, Kerlone, Levatol, Lopressor, Normodyne, Sectral, Tenoretic, Tenormin, Timolide, Toprol, Trandate, Visken, Zebeta, Ziac


More on the benefits of fruits and vegetables:

This month two large major studies show that eating fruits and vegetables helps to prevent heart attacks (Metabolism, April 2009) and certain cancers (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2009). However both studies showed that eating fruits and vegetables does not protect smokers from these diseases. Nicotine from smoking contains an angiogenesis factor that causes blood vessels to grow and feed solid tumors, allowing them to spread throughout the body.


Recipe of the Week:

Fruity Seafood Salad

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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