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Sugar in Sports Drinks Can Cause Stomach Cramps

A study from the Netherlands shows that sugar in sports drinks slows absorption and increases stomach cramping in running races shorter than 12 miles. (International Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 26, 2005). Fluids pass through your stomach and are absorbed almost immediately in your intestines. Exercise slows fluid passage from the stomach but does not affect intestinal absorption. Sugar added to drinks can delay stomach emptying to increase risk for cramps.

Another study from the University of Utah, reported in the same journal, shows that taking a salty drink just before exercise increases endurance. Dehydration is the most common cause of fatigue during exercise in fit men and women. This study used salted drinks or placebo (unsalted) drinks with two groups of cyclists, and demonstrated a significant improvement in an endurance time trial as well as better maintenance of blood volume in the group that had the salted drinks.

Anything that increases blood volume should increase endurance. Taking in fluid before exercising increases blood volume, and using salty drinks increases blood volume more than pure water. But a major problem with salty drinks is that they usually taste awful. You can accomplish the same results by drinking water, soda or any other beverage you like and eat a handful of salted peanuts or other salty food before and during your endurance events.

When you're not exercising, don't get in the habit of using sports drinks or any other sugared drinks to quench thirst. They'll add up to a lot of calories with little other nutritional value. Use plain water or a calorie-free beverage instead.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can I expect to live longer than my parents did?

A team of scientists supported by the National Institute on Aging report that over the next few decades, life expectancy for the average American could decline by as much as five years (New England Journal of Medicine, March 17, 2005). This would be the first sustained drop in life expectancy in the United States in the modern era, and the most likely cause is obesity.

Obesity in U.S. adults has increased 50 percent per decade since 1980. The severely obese live an average of 20 years less than the non-obese. More than 20 other developed nations, including France, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, have a higher average life expectancy than the U.S. The people who are most likely to maintain a healthful weight are those who exercise and control their calorie intake by limiting fatty foods and refined carbohydrates.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is there any relation between high cholesterol and cancer?

A team from Boston's Children Hospital found that high cholesterol levels cause prostate cancer cells in mice to grow and that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs inhibit prostate cancer growth (Journal of Clinical Investigation March, 2005.) Researchers injected human prostate cancer cells into mice. Animals fed high cholesterol diets had cholesterol accumulate in the outer membranes of tumors. Six weeks after tumor cells were injected, mice on the high-cholesterol diet had larger tumors and twice as many of them compared to those on a low- cholesterol diet. When mice on a high-cholesterol diet were given statin drugs to lower cholesterol, the tumors stopped growing. We do not know if these results apply to humans, but this study suggests one more reason to control your cholesterol.

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Make your own fast food!
This week’s recipes show you how to roast fall vegetables to store in your freezer, so you can make super-easy soups and stews all year long.

Roasted Veggie Soup Starter
Roasted Veggie-Squash Soup
Roasted Veggie Bean Pot

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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