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Older People Should Exercise Every Day

Can you explain why a study from The University of Sherbrooke in Canada showed that exercising three times a week improved insulin sensitivity in younger women but not in older women? (European Journal of Applied Physiology, October 2005) Insulin sensitivity measures the ability of your cells to respond to insulin. When cells fail to respond adequately to insulin, blood sugar levels rise too high, and you are more likely to suffer diabetes, obesity particularly in the abdomen, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and nerve damage. Inability to respond to insulin is the most common cause of diabetes in North America. Exercise helps your cells respond to insulin because exercise empties muscles of their stored sugar. Empty muscles can absorb sugar from the bloodstream whenever you eat and prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high.

Thirty-five percent of adults in North America will become diabetic because they eat too much and exercise too little, because being fat fills your fat cells with fat, which blocks insulin receptors and prevents your body from responding to insulin. Insulin prevents your blood sugar from rising too high, particularly after you eat. So when your cells do not respond adequately to insulin, your pancreas produces very large amounts of insulin, which constricts coronary arteries to increase your chances of suffering a heart attack, stimulates your brain to make you hungry and causes fat to be deposited in your belly.

The only places that you can store extra sugar in your body are in your liver and muscles. When you eat, sugar passes from your intestines, into your bloodstream, and then into your muscles and liver. When your muscles are full of sugar, sugar can only enter your liver, and your blood levels rise too high. This causes sugar to stick to cells. Once stuck on a cell, sugar is converted to sorbitol which damages the cells to cause blindness, heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage and all the other side effects of diabetes. This study showed that younger women could exercise intensely enough to empty their muscles on a regimen of three times a week, but older women could not. So most older people need to exercise every day to deplete their muscles of stored sugar. Younger people can exercise less frequently and to get the same results, as long as they exercise very vigorously during their three sessions per week.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can I increase the number of good bacteria in my intestines?

Normal intestinal bacteria are so numerous that they make up approximately 95 percent of the total number of cells in the human body. They help prevent bad bacteria from infecting you, and may help prevent intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and cancer. When you eat, enzymes from your intestines, stomach, liver and pancreas break down your food into its building blocks that can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars; proteins into amino acids; and fats into glycerol, fatty acids and monoglycerides. However, many foods contain undigestible starches that cannot be broken down into sugars, so they cannot be absorbed in the upper intestinal tract. When they reach the colon, the "good" bacteria ferment these undigestible starches to form other chemicals including short chain fatty acids that protect your intestinal lining from irritation and cancer, and are absorbed into your bloodstream to lower cholesterol and prevent heart tacks. These same "good" bacteria, such a lactobacillus, are used to ferment and preserve some foods made from milk or plants. So eating yogurt may help you maintain or increase the number of good bacteria you have in your gut. Not all yogurt contains live bacteria; read the label to make sure yours is "active."


Dear Dr. Mirkin: I'm not diabetic; should I be concerned about a high fasting blood sugar?

A normal fasting blood sugar is defined as being below 100. Those who have fasting blood sugars between 100 and 125 are not necessarily diabetic, but carry five times the risk of suffering a heart attack in one year as those with fasting blood sugars below 100. At the 2005 American College of Cardiology meetings, Dr. Beer of France showed that people who have elevated fasting blood sugars are at high risk for heart attacks, even though they may not be diagnosed as being diabetic. Having high blood sugar levels may be an even greater risk or heart attacks than having a high cholesterol. Many doctors now feel that 35 percent of Americans become diabetic because they eat too much sugar-added foods and drinks, bread, spaghetti and other refined carbohydrates and that they are overweight. Storing fat, particularly in your belly, puts you as high risk for becoming diabetic and for having a heart attack.


Recipe of the Week
Summer Couscous

You'll find 100 recipes, and lots of helpful diet tips, in The Good Food Book - FREE at 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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