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Avoid Foods Cooked at Very High Temperatures

When foods are cooked at temperatures above that of boiling water (100 C or 212F), sugar sticks to proteins and fats to form chemicals called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). Eating food cooked at high temperatures markedly elevates tissue, blood and urine levels of AGEs to increase risk for; diseases of inflammation such as cancers, arteriosclerosis, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, heart attacks and strokes; damage to the eyes and kidneys, and conditions such as cataracts, gum infections, nerve damage and muscle injuries in athletes.

How AGEs form in foods: When carbohydrates (chains of sugars) are cooked with proteins or fats at high temperatures and WITHOUT WATER, sugar binds to proteins or fats to form AGEs. When carbohydrates are cooked in water, they do not attach to protein and fat. Browning during cooking is a sign that AGEs are being formed. AGEs are found in grilled, roasted, broiled, fried or baked foods, and in coffee (made from roasted coffee beans).

Your body also makes AGEs whenever your blood sugar level rises too high. This is most likely to happen when you eat sugary foods and become inactive after eating. A high rise in blood sugar causes sugar to stick to cell membranes. Once there, sugar cannot get off and eventually destroys the involved cells. Blood sugar levels rise after you eat. If you exercise just before or after you eat, contracting muscles can draw sugar from the bloodstream without even needing insulin.

To reduce your exposure to AGEs:
• Avoid foods that cause a high rise in blood sugar, such as sugared drinks and foods with added sugars.
• Eat plenty of foods that do not cause a high rise in blood sugars such as raw, streamed or simmered vegetables and fruits.
• Restrict processed carbohydrates such as foods made from flour (bakery products and pastas).
• Use water-based cooking methods whenever possible: steaming, simmering, blanching or boiling. Water prevents the sugars from attaching to proteins and fats.
• Limit or avoid brown-cooked foods: those that are grilled, broiled, roasted, fried or baked.

References:
Am J Clin Nutr, June 2011
Am J Clin Nutr. May 2010
Neurobiol Aging, May 21, 2009
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci Sept 2010

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I have diverticulitis; do I need to avoid nuts and seeds?

All recent data discredits the old-wives tale that seeds and nuts get into the linings of the colon to irritate diverticula, outpouchings in the U-shaped colon tube. A plant-based diet reduces diverticular disease by nearly one-third (British Medical Journal, published online July 19, 2011). Symptoms of diverticulitis include alternating constipation and diarrhea, painful abdominal cramps and bloating.

47,033 adults were followed for 12 years. Vegetarians had a 31 percent lower risk than meat eaters for developing diverticular disease. The more fiber they took in, the less likely they were to suffer intestinal symptoms. Those who took in 25 grams of fiber/day were far less likely than those taking in fewer than 14 grams/day to be hospitalized for diverticular disease. Meat eaters who ate the most fiber had a 26 percent lower risk of diverticulitis than meat eaters who ate the least.

How fiber protects the colon: When you eat, the pyloric sphincter at the end of the stomach closes and no solid food is allowed to pass into your intestines. The food is turned into a liquid soup in your stomach and only this soup moves on to the intestines. When the soup reaches the colon, the fluid is absorbed to form solid stool. The longer the stool remains in your colon, the more fluid is absorbed so the the stool becomes harder and more difficult to pass.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans contain large amounts of fiber that hold water in the stool to prevent a cast from forming and sticking to your colon. Fiber pushes the stool rapidly through your colon to increase the number of bowel movements. The faster transit of stool lowers pressure in the colon to prevent pouches from forming.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What causes interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is diagnosed after a person complains of severe bladder pain, worse when the bladder is full, and doctors cannot find a cause. It affects almost seven percent of North American women (The Journal of Urology, August 2011).

Urine cultures and urinalysis do not find an infection, kidney X rays do not find kidney stones or other kidney damage, and inserting a tube to look directly inside the bladder and doing a biopsy reveals no obvious cause. One theory is that a yet unidentified germ may cause an autoimmune disorder.

Treatments include Elmiron, a drug that is chemically similar to a substance that lines the bladder. It may help heal the bladder lining, but can take several months to start working. Other drugs include tricyclic antidepressants, gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone), antihistamines, aspirin, ibuprofen, Prodium, and Uristat. Some people benefit from having their bladders filled and stretched with saline.

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Recipe of the Week:

Black Bean Jumble Salad

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

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July 31st, 2011
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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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