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Sitting All Day Long Shortens Life, Even If You Exercise

Reducing the time you spend sitting to three or fewer hours each day can help you live two years longer. Reducing TV watching time to fewer than two hours each day raises life expectancy by another 1.4 years (British Medical Journal, published online July 9, 2012). Pooled data from five studies involving 167,000 adults was used to compare the time North American adults spent sitting and watching TV with life expectancy. They showed that North American adults sit 55 percent of their waking hours; 27 percent of deaths could be attributed to sitting, and 19 percent to watching television.

The average North American watches TV five hours a day, and watching TV more than two hours a day increases risk for diabetes by 20 percent, heart attacks by 15 percent, and premature death by 13 percent (JAMA, June 15, 2011). Thirty minutes per day of exercise does not protect you completely from the other 23.5 hours you are not exercising.

HOW SITTING ALL DAY CAN HARM YOU: A high rise in blood sugar can damage every cell in your body. When blood sugar levels rise too high, sugar sticks to the outer membranes of cells. Once there, sugar cannot get off. It is eventually converted to sorbitol which destroys the cell to cause the many side effects of diabetes.

Resting muscles draw no sugar from the bloodstream, so they do not protect you from a high rise in blood sugar. On the other hand, contracting muscles can draw sugar from the bloodstream without even needing insulin.

WHEN DO BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS RISE THE HIGHEST? After you eat, blood sugar levels rise the highest. So the most important times to contract your muscles are just before and after you eat.

MOVING BEFORE YOU EAT: You get maximum protection from a high rise in blood sugar during exercise and the more vigorous the exercise, the greater the protection. This high level of protection remains for a short time after you finish exercising, so move your muscles before you eat.

MOVING AFTER YOU EAT: Contracting your muscles after you eat draws sugar from your bloodstream to protect you from high rises in blood sugar.

EXERCISE PROTECTS AGAINST RISE OF BLOOD SUGAR WITH AGING: A high fasting blood sugar is a sign of cell damage. Fasting blood sugar levels rise as people age. After age 35, people who did not exercise had twice the rise in fasting blood sugar, compared to those who exercised regularly (Ann Epidemiol, July 3, 2012).

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Saturated Fat from Meat, Not from Plants, Linked to Heart Attacks

A study from the University of Texas in Houston shows that saturated fats from meat are associated with increased heart attack risk, while saturated fats from milk and plants are not (Am J Clin Nutr, July 3, 2012). Study subjects were 45-84 years old, and were followed for 10 years.

Since the early 1940s, scientists have told us that ALL saturated fats raise cholesterol and increase heart attack risk. We also have been told that substituting polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for saturated fats lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart attacks.

Recent studies show that this is not completely true. Just about everyone agrees that eating saturated fats in meats increases heart attack risk. However, while saturated fats from plants may raise cholesterol, they have not been associated with increased heart attack risk.

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Cranberries and Their Juices May Help Prevent Urinary Tract
Infections in Women

Researchers found 13 studies, involving 1600 people, that test whether cranberries help prevent urinary tract infections (Archives of Internal Medicine, August 2012). Those who took cranberry juice or supplements were 38 percent less likely to suffer urinary tract infections. Those who were more likely to benefit from cranberry products were:
• women and children, rather than men;
• women with recurrent urinary tract infections;
• regular cranberry juice drinkers; and
• those who use cranberry-containing products more than twice daily.

The symptoms of urinary tract infections include:
• a feeling that you have to urinate all the time,
• burning on urination,
• frequent night-time urination,
• pelvic discomfort,
• urinary odor,
• urgency when the bladder is full, and sometimes
• fever.

Most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria entering the urethra from the outside and climbing up the inner lining of the urethra to the bladder, and for some, up to the kidneys. Cranberry juice does not contain any known chemicals that specifically kill bacteria. They contain chemicals that help to prevent bacteria from sticking to the cells of the urethra as they climb up toward the bladder. Cranberries may help to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections, but they should not be used as the primary treatment.

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Recipe of the Week:

Eggplant Sauce for Whole Grains or Pasta

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

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July 15th, 2012
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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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