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Caffeine Boosts Hot Weather Performance

A study from Toledo, Spain shows that giving caffeine to dehydrated bicycle racers helps them ride faster, longer and with more power in hot weather (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, July 2008). When combined with water and carbohydrates, caffeine ingestion increases the force of muscular contractions which helps them to pedal with more power. Almost all professional bicycle riders take caffeine is some form because they know it helps them to ride faster.

Another recent study from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign shows that caffeine helps to reduce muscle pain in riders pedaling as hard and as long as they can (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, May 2008). Other studies have shown that caffeine is a diuretic only when a person is at rest, not during exercise.

These reported benefits of caffeine for cyclists can be expected to apply to other sports as well. However, people with heart damage should be cautious about taking caffeine before exercising. It is a stimulant and may increase risk of irregular heart beats.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Why are football players at high risk for diabetes?

People who have huge muscles usually have high levels of insulin because insulin causes muscles to grow. Exercise makes muscles so sensitive to insulin that it prevents blood sugar levels from rising too high. However, when these people stop exercising, their muscles are not as sensitive to insulin and blood sugar levels rise, this causes insulin levels to go even higher, so they eat more and gain weight.

A study from Mt. Sinai Medical Center shows that National Football League linemen are more than twice as likely as other Americans to develop diabetes in later life. More than 60 percent of NFL linemen become diabetic, compared to only 30 percent for the average American (The American Journal of Cardiology, May 2008).

People who have large muscles when they are young need to continue to exercise for the rest of their lives. If they reduce the amount of exercise or stop exercising for any reason, they must do everything in their power to protect themselves from gaining weight. Before insulin can do its job of driving sugar into cells, it must first attach to special insulin receptors on the surface of cells. Extra fat in the body prevents these receptors from responding to insulin, so blood sugar levels rise even higher. To compensate for this, insulin levels rise higher also, which sets the person up for diabetes and premature death.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are statin drugs the best way to lower cholesterol?

In this month's issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (July 2008) is an article showing that lifestyle changes lower cholesterol as much as the most powerful statin drugs, AND they also lower triglycerides and weight, which the statin drugs do not.

If your doctor prescribes drugs to lower cholesterol and does not teach you lifestyle changes, I think you should find another doctor. All of the lifestyle changes that lower cholesterol also reduce your risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and many cancers. You should eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. You should restrict refined carbohydrates (sugar and flour in any form), saturated fats and partially hydrogenated oils. You should exercise regularly and vigorously, avoid smoking and avoid being overweight. These will do more to keep you alive and well than any drug that your doctor can prescribe.


Potato Salad Recipes for your Picnics

Gabe's Favorite Potato Salad
Green Bean-Potato Salad
Sweet Potato Salad with Pineapple
New Potato Salad

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 25th, 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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