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Most People Can Eat Just Before They Exercise

If you are going to exercise for more than an hour, you need to eat before you exercise or your muscles and liver will run out of sugar and you will tire earlier. Your brain gets more than 98 percent of its energy from sugar in your bloodstream. But there is only enough sugar in your bloodstream to last three minutes. So you liver has to constantly release sugar from its cells into your bloodstream. There is only enough sugar in your liver to last maybe an hour when you exercise vigorously. Eating before exercising can help you to exercise longer.

Whenever your stomach fills with food, its muscles contract and require large amounts of blood. When you exercise vigorously, your heart pumps large amounts of blood to your skeletal muscles. If your heart is not strong enough to pump blood to both your stomach and your skeletal muscles, blood is shunted from your stomach muscles, the muscles lack oxygen, lactic acid builds up in muscles and they start to hurt. However, most people can exercise after eating without suffering cramps because their hearts are strong enough to pump blood to both their exercising muscles and their stomach muscles.

Some researchers believe that you shouldn't eat sugar before you exercise because it will cause your blood sugar level to rise and your pancreas to release insulin, which will cause your blood sugar to drop too low so you will feel tired during exercise. However, the major cause of tiredness that you feel in your muscles during exercise is lack of stored sugar in muscles. Taking any extra calories before and during exercise helps to preserve the sugar that is stored in muscles and help you to exercise longer. If you are going to exercise for more than an hour, eat or drink anything you like before and during your exercise. Most people will not get stomach cramps while exercising, no matter what or when they eat.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What's the best way to treat dry skin?

Dry skin means lack of water, not lack of oil. In the late 1940's, a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital took a hard callus off the foot of one of his patients and placed in oil. It remained as hard as ever. Then he placed the callus in water and it became very soft, but soon after being removed from the water, it became very hard again. Then he left the callus in water until it became soft, removed it and then soaked it in oil and it remained soft for a long time. He had shown that dry skin should be treated by using oils and creams to seal in moisture. Cosmetic manufacturers soon produced oil-in-water emulsions which were incorporated into creams designed to seal in water.

However, some studies show that oil-in-water emulsions soak off the outer layer of skin and increase its susceptibility to irritation from cold, rubbing, and externally applied chemicals. The longer skin is immersed in water, the more protective outer coatings of skin is stripped off. Take quick showers and decide for yourself whether using a cream or lotion helps you or not. All lotions and creams work the same way, no matter how much they cost or what special ingredients they claim to contain. Just pick one that feels and smells pleasant to you.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: My husband thinks our children should try to become great athletes. Is it safe for them to lift weights before they even reach their teens?

The best time for future Olympic athletes to start training is before they reach puberty. Having large strong muscles makes you a better athlete, and starting training before puberty enlarges the bones that are used primarily in that sport. Muscles growth is limited by the size of the bones on which they attach. The larger the bone, the stronger the muscle. Children who start to play tennis before they go into puberty have larger bones in the arm that holds the racquet. They also have larger bones in their tennis arm than those who start to play tennis later in life. The larger and stronger your muscles, the harder you can hit a tennis ball.

Lifting weights during growth does not prevent children from growing to their full potential height. Bones grow from growth centers that are weakest part of bone, but strength training during growth does not damage these growth centers and children who lift weights in programs with experienced supervision do not suffer more injuries than adults. There used to be concern that growing large muscles would make people musclebound and interfere with coordination, but this is not true. With increased strength comes increased speed and increased coordination in movements requiring strength. The best time for future Olympians to start training is while their bones are still growing.

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Recipe of the Week:

Any Vegetable Curry
One of Diana’s favorite basic recipes, a great way to use up odds and ends from your refrigerator or freezer.

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

June 27th, 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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