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Aspirin Does Not Improve Athletic Performance

Many athletes think that taking aspirin or other nonsteroidals before competition can help to block the muscle pain that they feel when they exercise intensely and will help them to compete more effectively. It doesn't. When you exercise intensely, you run out of oxygen and your muscles start to burn. This is caused by breakdown products of energy metabolism accumulating in muscles to make them more acidic and hurt. Aspirin does not block the acidity and therefore, it does not block pain. The only way that you can stop the burning is to slow down.

When you are injured, your muscles feel sore and taking aspirin will help to relieve some of the pain, but it does not help you to heal faster or improve strength. Aspirin can cause diarrhea, belly pain and bleeding. Taking aspirin or nonsteroidals for several days after injuring yourself can delay healing. Try to avoid or reduce exercising when your muscles feel sore because the soreness means that muscle fibers are torn and frayed. Exercising before the fibers heal increases your risk for a serious muscle-tear injury.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: What does "fractionated vegetable oil" mean? Is it the same as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”?

Fractionation means the oil has been physically separated into its different parts. All oils are made up of varying percentages of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Usually fractionation is used to give you more of the saturated (more solid) part than is found in the whole oil. Fractionation does not change the chemical structure of the fat molecules, as hydrogenation does. I think everyone should avoid partially hydrogenated oils (the primary source of trans fats). Fractionated oils are like other saturated fats, which should be limited if you have a problem controlling your weight or cholesterol. They are generally not a concern if you are burning all of the calories you consume.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I read an article that said bicycling weakens bones. Is that true?

Several years ago a study from the American College of Sports Medicine reported that bicycle riders have bones that are less dense than people who don't exercise at all. This led some science writers and sports reporters to make the ridiculous recommendation that bicycle riders should lift weights to strengthen their bones, or change sports.

Bone density tests do not necessarily measure bone strength. Birds have unbelievably thin bones that are extremely strong. Many birds with thin light bones are far more resistant to fractures than many mammals that have much denser bones. There is no evidence that bicycle riders or racers are at increased risk for bone fractures. Racers crash all the time. Lance Armstrong spends as much time on a bike as anyone, and he has had many serious high impact crashes. If he had weak bones, he would be in a wheelchair, and not be the greatest bicycle racer in the world.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is sea salt more healthful than regular table salt?

No. You may notice flavor differences, but sea salt, table salt, kosher salt, monosodium glutamate, and the various seasoning salts all affect your body exactly the same way. In addition to sodium chloride, sea salt contains traces of magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, calcium sulfate and iodine, but the amounts of these minerals are nutritionally insignificant. Ordinary iodized table salt is an important dietary source of iodine, so if you choose not to use it, be sure you are getting enough iodine from other sources.


Recipe of the Week
Fruit is not just for dessert! Use it in soups, salads and main dishes. Feel free to add or substitute your own favorite fruits in these recipes (fresh strawberries are abundant right now!)

Tropical Wild Rice Medley
Canary Island Soup Pot
Cuban Mango 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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