SUGAR & AGING, NOT A SWEET DEALAug 11, 2023
Most folks know by now that sugar, although something our tastebuds love, isn't the best choice for health. But did you also know that excess sugar actually accelerates aging?
It's true. Beyond the obvious things like cavities and a compromised immune function, sugar and the way it behaves in your body also speeds up aging. This process is called glycation and it is fuelled by dis-regulated blood sugar.
Upon entering the body, sugar, along with other processed/packaged carbs (as they turn to sugar almost immediately) causes blood sugar to spike. Your body then over releases insulin to try and counteract, and it comes crashing down shortly afterwards. Every time that happens, it causes cells in your body to break down and oxidize which speeds up the aging process. Like when you slice an apple. Unless you wrap it up right away or put some lemon juice on it, the apple will turn brown, the exposed areas get soft and mushy and it will eventually rot.
The same thing happens to the cells in your body. The apple without any lemon juice is your cells when blood sugar is unstable and your body is glycating.
Think about it. A bagel at breakfast, that double double or latte on the way to work, a muffin at coffee break, a soda or energy drink pick-me-up in the afternoon, maybe some pasta and red wine for dinner. Just a few examples of foods that cause blood sugar to spike and become dis-regulated.
Repeated spikes in blood sugar is a prime example of what can cause AGEs, Advanced Glycation End products. Aptly named, these harmful compounds are formed in the body when protein and excess sugar combine. The more sugary, packaged, processed, fast, and/or deep-fried foods we consume, the more AGEs are formed. AGEs trigger glycation which in turn accelerates aging and causes metabolic disease. Which begs these questions; 1. When you think about what you're eating throughout the day, how well are you balancing your blood sugar? 2. How much glycation are you creating, and how much pre-mature aging is going on inside because of it?
Currently, nine out of 10 deaths in America can be attributed to metabolic disorders. Conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, vision impairment, kidney damage are all caused and/or made worse, by dis-regulated blood sugar. Dementia and Alzheimer's have for years been quietly called Type 3 Diabetes as well due to the affect blood sugar and glycation has on the brain. The irony here is that these diseases themselves can then accelerate the production of AGEs, creating a viciously unhealthy cycle.
If you follow my column, you know that I talk all the time about the importance of blood sugar stabilization and the key role it plays when it comes to sustainable weight loss. But with statistics like we just read, clearly there's a lot more at stake to balancing blood sugar than just losing weight.
What we eat, how and when we eat it, will either stabilize your blood sugar or cause you to glycate. For those who like a visual picture, you're either putting lemon juice on your apple, or allowing it to rot. Not a pretty picture perhaps, but it's not generally the beautiful, perfect pictures that necessitate a change.
So how can you use food to stabilize blood sugar? Simple. Choose clean, whole, single-ingredient foods most often. Eat a protein, fat, and carb together frequently throughout the day in the right portions and in the right frequencies. I tell my clients PFC every 3. Protein is key for building and protecting muscle to support metabolism which in turn supports stabilizing blood sugar. Fat helps to slow down digestion and prevent carbohydrates from spiking up. Fat is your friend. Carbs are our energy source, so we do need them. The best, most nutrient-dense carbs by far are your fruits and veggies. Does that mean you can't ever have that bagel for breakfast, or that latte on the way to work? Absolutely not. But have it with some protein and healthy fat to make it balanced.
As a baby we were all born into this world eating and fuelling to stabilize blood sugar. Babies aren't even allowed to go home from the hospital if their blood sugar isn't stable. Clearly there's a reason for it. Let's get back to that and see if we can't put a little lemon juice on.