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Ultra Endurance Sports Prolong Lives

Tour de France Cyclists live 17 percent longer than people who do not participate in strenuous exercise (International Journal of Sports Medicine, August 2011). The authors studied 834 cyclists who rode in the Tour de France between the years 1930 and 1964. These cyclists train by riding intensely for more than five hours a day, and then race more than 100 miles a day for three weeks. The cyclists in the study lived an average of 81.5 years, compared to 73.5 years for the general population. This supports other studies that show that endurance exercisers live more than 12 years longer than those who do not exercise (British Journal of Sports Medicine, March 2008).

The leading theory is that exercise prolongs life and prevents heart attacks and cancers by causing the body to dispose of free radicals with increased production of antioxidants. Exercise speeds up the reactions that turn food into energy, so exercise actually increases the production of free radicals. The body responds to this increased production of free radicals during exercise by producing tremendous amounts of antioxidants that sop up the free radicals and render them harmless.

Most cells in your body have mitochondria, very small energy-producing chambers that number anywhere from a few to thousands in each cell. As you age, mitochondria in muscles decrease in number and size. This interferes with your body's ability to burn sugar efficiently for energy, so more free radicals are produced. Anything that increases the number and size of mitochondria helps to protect you from free radicals. Exercising helps to prevent loss of mitochondria and even makes them larger (Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, April, 2007).

• Mitochondria convert molecules from the sugar in your food into other molecules to release energy to power most cells in your body.

• They do this by shuffling electrons from one molecule to another.

• As electrons are shuffled to produce energy, extra electrons accumulate inside mitochondria.

• Free electrons must attach immediately to something.

• They can attach to hydrogen atoms to form water and become harmless, or

• They can attach to oxygen atoms to form free radicals that can damage cells.

• Free radicals attach to your DNA (genetic material) in cells to damage the cells, causing them to act differently than they are supposed to.

• The DNA in cells tells the cell what to do.

• If your DNA is functioning properly, it directs the cell to divide a certain number of times and then die, called apoptosis.

• If your DNA is damaged, the cells can become defective and go on to live forever to become cancers.

• Cells with damaged DNA also can cause heart attacks and other life-shortening conditions.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can overweight diabetic men regain their potency?

Yes! Overweight diabetics significantly improved their ability to make love (erectile function, sexual desire, and urinary symptoms) after they lost five to ten percent of their weight in eight weeks (Journal of Sexual Medicine, August 07, 2011). One year later, they were still able to make love. At the same time, they lowered their cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profile, with either:

• A LOW CALORIE DIET: Liquid meal-replacement consumed twice daily and one small, nutritionally balanced meal, providing a total energy of about 900 kcal/day; or

• A HIGH PROTEIN, LOW FAT & LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIET designed to reduce energy intake by about 600 kcal/day.

All diabetics should:
• lose weight
• exercise
• get blood vitamin D3 levels above 75 nmol/L
• avoid red meat, sugared drinks and all foods with added sugar
• eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables.

More than 50 percent of men over 50 have difficulty maintaining an erection, and 80 percent of men over 75 years are impotent. Diabetes is twice as likely to cause impotence as obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure (Archives of Internal Medicine, Jan 23, 2006).

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can chewing food a long time help you lose weight? Chewing food 40 times instead of the average of 15 times causes people to eat 12 percent fewer calories, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (published online July 20, 2011). Those who chewed their food longer had lower blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry; and higher levels of CCK, a hormone that reduces hunger. However, they had the same blood sugar and insulin levels.

A 12 percent reduction of calories could cause a person to lose almost 25 pounds in a year.

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Recipe of the Week:

Gabe's Famous Eggplant, Bean and Tomato Casserole

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

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August 14th, 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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