As the nights begin the draw in our social calendars begin to ramp up and as a result, our overall sugar consumption tends to increase also!
Between Halloween, Bonfire Night and an onslaught of Christmas parties on the horizon, it is time to consider your plan to tackle your sugar intake over the coming months!
Sugar – in all its forms is, without doubt, one of the most insidious and destructive substances that we use today.
Other than being one of the key contributors to weight gain, sugar poses an even larger threat to our health by predisposing us to many chronic and degenerative diseases. It also greatly expedites the ageing process!
To fully grasp how sugar causes accelerated ageing and disease, we first need to turn our attention to the proteins in our bodies…
Proteins are formed from amino acids and are essential for life because they serve two vitally important roles:
- The creation and maintenance of collagen (approximately one-third of your body’s total protein) found in the skin, muscles, organs and vascular structures providing elasticity and cohesion to these structures
- The enablement of all life-sustaining biochemical reactions which occur within your body.
Here’s where sugar comes in…
Sugar provides needed energy for your cells. When it is properly controlled, proteins and sugars can interact harmoniously within the body. However, when sugars are not properly regulated, they react and ‘cross-link’ with the protein in your body in a process called Glycation.
Glycation is the process in which the presence of excess glucose in skin fibres triggers an internal reaction in which sugar molecules adhere to the collagen and elastin proteins, which normally help keep skin firm and supple. As you can imagine, the skin, as a result, can become discoloured and weak, leaving it more likely to sag and wrinkle and as such hugely accelerating your biological age.
If there is a long-term overexposure to sugar in your system the result is known as Advanced Glycation End-products – or ‘AGEs’ for short.
Extensive research over the last few decades has demonstrated that AGEs either contribute or are direct culprits for the development of many devastating chronic diseases including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type II diabetes
- Kidney disorders
- Visual impairment
- Skin and connective tissue disorders
- Auto-immune disease
And the list sadly goes on…
Proteins are present everywhere in your body, which is why the destructive capacity of AGEs is so vast.
The primary source of AGEs comes from the food that we eat. When food containing sugars and proteins is browned during cooking, this forms AGEs. We absorb about 30% of the AGEs that we consume and these go on to cause havoc in our bodies.
The secondary source of AGEs happens internally when we absorb carbohydrates, which are broken down into simple sugars. Normally, this process should provide you with the energy that your body needs for all of its functions – nevertheless, a part of this sugar glycates to form AGEs, further compounding the issue.
So why are AGEs becoming even more of a problem for the Western World?
The majority of people who follow a standard “Westernised” empty-calorie, carbohydrate-heavy diet, tend to develop blood sugar levels that are higher than they should be and as such it is no surprise the number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is still increasing dramatically.
Over the past 30 years, sugar consumption has increased radically. The issue is yet again further compounded by ‘sugar replacements’ such as sweeteners which are approximately 50% fructose or a fructose derivative. These simple sugars undergo glycation at a 10 times higher rate than glucose. (This is just one of the reasons that High Fructose Corn Syrup is so dangerous – and implicated in the formation of numerous chronic debilitating diseases.)
So now you have a wider understanding of sugar and the impacts it has on your body, I wish to give you some tips for you to implement into your daily routine to help you to offset the upcoming months of temptation!
Reducing AGEs formation:
- Reduce your consumption of sugar. If you feel the need to snack, look at the list of healthy alternatives at the end of this article.
- Stabilise your blood sugar levels. Follow a low carbohydrate diet – which emphasises the use of vegetables – organic wherever possible (to reduce your exposure to contaminants such as pesticides. Organic food won’t adjust your body’s formation of AGEs – but it will enable your body to function better under a lowered toxic load). If you do eat carbs, ensure that you understand the impact that these will have on your body – a Glycaemic Load calculator will help you to choose foods that will help keep your blood sugar levels in a normal and healthy range.
- Eat vegetables and fruits raw, boiled, or steamed, don’t fry, roast, bake or grill. By eating fruits and vegetables (ideally) raw or by cooking them in water or with steam prevents AGEs from forming.
- Limit your consumption of processed and browned foods. Food manufacturers use techniques like caramelisation and browning to improve the taste of their products. These techniques directly increase the number of AGE products contained in these processed foods.
- Add cinnamon to your diet. Just half a teaspoon a day of cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity by over 50% – thus reducing your blood sugar levels.
- Drink tea to further enhance insulin sensitivity. Tea, whether black, green or white increases insulin sensitivity and has a whole host of other major health benefits (including enormous anti-oxidant activity). Decaf or caffeinated seem to be equally effective. Coffee, however, appears in trials to increase insulin resistance AND the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 25% – and this is worse if you add sugar.
Foods for Low in Sugar; Beneficial in Reducing AGEs:
- Red Bell Peppers
- Sweet Potato
- Pomegranate Seeds
If you have any questions about implementing these tips, please do feel to reach out for further information.
Wishing you all the best with making these steps.
All my love,
Jayney xTags: anti-ageing, diabetes, health benefits