Editor's Note: Our newest blogger is a wellness coach for seniors. This is his first blog post.
In addition to making us fat, does sugar also make us age more rapidly? A number of scientific studies have concluded that it is our metabolism-the sum total of the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life-and not genetics that primarily influences how fast we age. This metabolic model of aging postulates that there are two warring forces within our bodies, the winning force at any time being the determinant of the speed of our aging These two forces are 1) anabolic metabolism, that rebuilds, restores and repairs the activity of our body, and 2) catabolic metabolism, that breaks-down and degenerates our bodily activity.
There appear to be four catabolic factors that contribute about 90% of our total catabolic damage. These factors are 1) oxidation, 2) glycation, 3) wear and tear-collagen degradation-and 4) declining liver function. It is the glycation factor that most directly requires sugar to be operative. Glycation is what bakers call “browning.” It occurs when sugars combine with proteins under elevated temperature. The same thing happens to us as we age, only the “cooking” is a matter of time not temperature. It was suggested by a biochemist at Rockefeller University in 1987 that in our bodies this “browning” process alters the nature of the proteins in our tissues. These altered proteins are called “advanced glycation end products” or AGEs. The essential AGE problem is that the affected protein no longer functions as it should. The seriousness of this problem becomes apparent when we understand that we have over 50,000 proteins in our bodies that perform an astounding array of necessary activities in our body. This “browning” process dramatically contributes to the aging process and sugar is the activating element
“Biochemically, sugar is a disaster, primarily because it raises glucose levels so fast and so high. This not only accelerates aging via skyrocketing glycation, but also contributes to obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and a raft of other disorders associated with altered blood sugar metabolism.” Stephen Cherniske, MS, “The Metabolic Plan”
Common table sugar represents about 17 percent of the daily caloric intake of the average American. In the early 1800's, the average sugar consumption was about 6 pounds per person annually. This has increased to a current high of 157 pounds annually per a USDA estimate to a low estimate of some 80 pounds a year; either way a lot of added sugar consumption.. It is estimated that 75 percent of all the added sugar we consume comes from processed food. There is no way anyone can consume anything even close to a half a pound of sugar a day and have any hope of aging in a healthy fashion.
In summation, get off the sugar unless you want to age fast.
--Ron Ringlien is a Senior Wellness Coach with backgrounds as a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Fitness Nutritionist (CFN). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.