Sugar and ageing
Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s a fab Insta filter? Maybe it’s a heck load of make-up and soft lighting akin to The Bold and the Beautiful?
In an age where selfies are hyper-prevalent, there is increased pressure to appear effortlessly youthful.
Sure, some people are genetically predisposed to having blemish-free skin, seemingly resilient to the ravages of ageing. But let’s make one thing clear before we continue. Ageing is normal. As are the wrinkles and the grey hair that often accompany it. This is something we should learn to respect and embrace – we needn’t look 19 forever!
However accelerated ageing is worrying, as what we see on the outside is often a reflection of what is going down on the inside. Poor diet, including excess added sugar, has a lot to answer for in damaging our body cells and speeding up the journey toward ill health.
Glycation – A big sticky mess
Advanced glycation end (AGE – an apt acronym, don’t you think?) products are formed when cooking at high temperatures, or internally following excess sugar intake, where the glucose binds in a big, sticky mess to DNA, proteins and fats within the body, disabling their activity.
AGE products also build up, leading to cellular damage, lipid peroxidation, and malfunction of tissues and body organs. It is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, atheroscleorsis, thrombosis, and complications in diabetes and the kidney. Nasty.
What to do? The long and short of it is this:
- Keep refined, heavily processed carbohydrates and sugars on the ‘occasional treats’ list
- Cook at low temperatures or in water
- Consume an abundance of fresh raw vegetable and fruit.
Inflammation – The consequences of protection
The body’s innate inflammatory response is always acting to protect us from compounds it believes are wishing to do us harm. Brilliant! This protective response however results in collateral damage to body tissues and organs, contributing to ageing, scarring, and disease.
To minimise the impact, give the body less reason to mobilise inflammatory troops by replacing pro-inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory foods, and limiting intake of anything heavily processed.
You may have heard the term ‘free radical’, and we know they aren’t great, but what exactly are they?
When we breathe in oxygen, the O2 molecule is split into two, and each single part is considered an unhappy, unstable free radical, flying around the body, running into cells at will, inflicting all manner of damage to DNA and body tissue. Proteins are particularly vulnerable, and damage to their structure and function can contribute to numerous health conditions, including metabolic syndrome.1,2
High blood glucose levels are associated with glycation of proteins. And a high level of glycated protein is associated with increased oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is also enhanced in high intensity exercise, smoking, pollution, stress, infection, and you guessed it, a diet high in processed foods.
Anti-oxidants, on the other hand, stabilise the free radical by donating an oxygen molecule to create a happy, stable O2 compound again. Boost anti-oxidant activity by eating a rainbow of coloured fresh, whole food.
Support your cells!
So, food and drink that encourage glycation, inflammation and oxidation have some things in common – they are highly refined and processed, have high glycemic load, and not particularly fresh.
All is not lost! It is never too late to start feeding your body well.
Let’s take a look at foods that not only nourish, but can also help slow the ageing process.
Nutrients and foods to combat ageing:
Necessary for collagen formation, skin healing and integrity, and dampening inflammation. It is also a powerful antioxidant.
|Capsicum, dark leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, berries, kiwi fruit, citrus and fresh herbs.|
An anti-oxidant, it supports cell membrane integrity and skin function and appearance.
|Almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, olive oil and dark leafy greens.|
|Essential Fatty Acids
Kick-ass anti-inflammatory agents, EFAs can assist in reducing the damage from chronic inflammation.
|Oily fish (such as mackerel, sardines and wild-caught salmon), flaxseed, hemp seed and chia seed, walnuts and vegetables such as spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts.|
An antioxidant supporting the activity of vitamins C and E.
|Brazil nuts (grown in Brazil’s selenium rich soil).|
Vitamins A, C, E, and selenium, CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid are all powerful antioxidants, supporting the health of our cells.
|Green and white tea, berries, leafy green vegetables, herbs and spices, and nuts.|
Our old friend, H20, will boost cellular hydration for effective activity and resilience!
Now, when you see healthful glowing skin, you can ask yourself, maybe it’s not genetics, a filter or make-up, but perhaps the abundance of delicious, fresh whole food?
- Hohn, A, Konig, J, & Grune, T 2013, ‘Protein oxidation in aging and the removal of oxidized proteins’, Journal of Proteomics, p. 132.
- Hopps, E, & Caimi, G 2013, ‘Protein oxidation in metabolic syndrome’, Clinical And Investigative Medicine. Médecine Clinique Et Experimentale, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. E1-E8.