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How to Jump Higher

When former NBA player Kent Benson arrived at the University of Indiana he could jump only nine inches off the ground. That's an embarrassing jump for a seven-foot All- American. One year later, he was able to jump three times that high because he had a good coach.

How high you can jump is determined by the force that you can exert when you contract your leg muscles against gravity. so strengthening your muscles will help you to jump higher. However, you must exercise your muscles against resistance in the same way that you use them when you jump. You can bend your knees and hips and straighten them by performing leg presses up while lying on your back, sideways while sitting in a chair, or down against the ground when you squat in the upright position.

Basketball players who want to be able to jump higher should set up a schedule of weight training moderately on Monday, easy on Wednesday and hard on Friday. On days when your muscles feel sore or tight, skip your weight lifting workout.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What is Syndrome X?

Syndrome X describes people who have low blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol and high blood levels of triglycerides, which puts them at high risk for heart attacks. HDL cholesterol is called the good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol and triglycerides from your blood to your liver before they can form plaques in arteries. Triglycerides are manufactured by your liver from extra food that you take in, primarily from refined carbohydrates which cause a high rise in blood sugar. Excessive amounts of triglycerides cause a condition called fatty liver that interferes with liver function.

Your liver is supposed to remove insulin from your bloodstream after the insulin has done its job of driving sugar from the bloodstream into cells. A fatty liver does not remove insulin as well as it should, so large amounts of insulin accumulate in the bloodstream. Excess insulin affects your brain to make you hungry all the time, causes your liver to manufacture even more fat, causes you to deposit more fat in your belly, and constricts arteries.

People with high blood levels of triglycerides and low levels of the good HDL cholesterol are at high risk for obesity, diabetes and heart attacks. The tendency to develop Syndrome X is genetic but it will not appear if you burn more calories than you take in. If you have this syndrome, you should avoid all refined carbohydrates: foods made with flour, white rice, milled corn, and any type of added sugar. Eat plenty of vegetables and WHOLE grains, and (of course) get plenty of vigorous exercise.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should I use sea salt instead of iodized table salt?

You need to eat foods that contain iodine for your body to be able to make thyroid hormone. The best sources are iodized salt and seafood. Plants can be a good source, but only if they are grown on iodine-rich soil. A study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism (September-October 2003) showed that vegetarians are at increased risk for iodine deficiency that causes low thyroid function. In this study, 25 percent of vegetarians and 80 percent of vegans had low blood levels of iodine, compared to only nine percent of people who eat both meat and vegetables. While iodized table salt is a good source of iodine, sea salt often is not. If you don't use table salt or eat ocean fish or kelp, get a blood test for iodine. If your iodine level is low, you need to eat more seafood or iodized salt, or take iodine pills.

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Recipe of the Week

Green Pea Soup

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

June 27th, 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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