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Salt Helps Retain Fluid

Researchers at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, UK show that the salty drinks help your body to retain fluid and therefore increase the time that you can exercise, particularly in the heat (European Journal of Applied Physiology, July 2008). They fed drinks of four different salt concentrations to competitive cyclists. The higher the concentration of salt, the less urine they produced. This shows that salt helps their bodies to retain water so they will have more fluid available to cool their bodies in the heat. However, this study showed that it did not improve their performance.

In 1942, the United States Government asked James Gamble of Harvard Medical school to set up guidelines for soldiers who must fight in the heat. His classic, impeccable experiments are still the basis for recommendations today for fluid and mineral replacements for athletes. He showed that the only mineral that needs to be replaced during exercise or other hard work in hot weather is sodium. So when you exercise in the heat, make sure that you take in extra salt, either in a sports drink or in salted foods such as peanuts or pretzels. If you are concerned about the effect of this extra salt on your blood pressure, buy a simple blood pressure cuff and take your blood pressure weekly, just to make sure that you are not taking too much salt or exercising too little.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is monosodium glutamate (MSG) harmful?

Many people still avoid MSG as the culprit in "Chinese restaurant syndrome", even though no scientific studies were ever able to show that MSG causes headaches, flushing, tingling or anything else. However, a recent study of Chinese peasants suggests that MSG may cause weight gain (Obesity, August 2008). The subjects were divided into three groups, based on the amount of MSG used, and those in the group that ate the most MSG were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users. Previous studies on mice and rats found the same effect. Dr. Ka He, the lead author of the study at the University of North Carolina, concludes that MSG makes food taste better so people eat more.

It's not easy to avoid MSG even if you read food labels. Everyone eats significant amounts of monosodium glutamate because all foods that contain protein have a building block amino acid called glutamic acid which is converted in the body to glutamate.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: If exercise helps to prevent cancer, what is the mechanism?

We do not really know how exercise helps to prevent cancer, but the most widely accepted theory is that exercise helps to keep the mitochondria in cells from producing as many free radicals. Free radicals, produced when mitochondria convert food to energy, can attach to the DNA and damage it to cause uncontrolled cell growth.

More than 50 studies associate regular exercise with lowered cancer risk One of the latest, from Tokyo, followed almost 80,000 men and women for ten years (American Journal of Epidemiology, August 2008). The more these men and women exercised, the less likely they were to develop cancer. The decreased risk was greater in women than men, especially among the elderly. Exercise appeared to be particularly associated with reduced risk for cancers of the colon, liver or pancreas in men and for cancer of the stomach in women.

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Recipe of the Week

Spaghetti Squash with Ratatouille Sauce
Easy instructions for preparing spaghetti squash

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

June 22nd, 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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