Diet to Slow Ageing? “Really? Is my diet going to slow down my developing crow’s feet and developed laugh lines?” Yes. Once thought of being the cavity culprit, research is now proving the ramifications of sugar go far beyond the health of our teeth. A whole food diet which is low sugar will help slow down accelerated ageing and the disease process. It is not just the ageing that we see so visibly on our faces, but the ageing on a cellular level that can be positively affected by a nutrient dense, natural, low sugar diet.
Sugar, particularly an excess of simple carbohydrates (lollies, soft drinks, bread, bakery goods, processed foods) can affect our skin, wrinkles, and suppleness due to a natural process called glycation. The excess sugars form harmful molecules called advanced glycation end produces or, ironically, AGEs. These AGEs damage our collagen and the elastin in our skin causing lots of ageing. When our collagen and elastin become damaged, our skin loses it elasticity, resilience and deep lines begin to form.
This damage even goes one layer further. Glycation turns Type lll collagen into Type I collagen. Type lll collagen is robust and Type l is a weaker collagen. And wait there is more! Wonderful antioxidants are also at risk from the glycation process. Pro health, protective antioxidants are reduced from the glycation process making our skin even more susceptible to sun damage.
More alarming than what can be visibly seen, is what is happening on a cellular level. Sugar causes inflammation. Imagine if your cells were getting microscopic scratches daily. Each scratch promotes cellular inflammation and damage. Because you don’t see or feel the damage, ageing and oxidation immediately, you continue to ignite them with an inflammatory diet, especially sugar.
Eventually, our body blows the whistle on this constant assault. Inflammation leads to diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune conditions, lowers immunity, leads to yeast overgrowth and so on.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s used to be viewed as mysterious diseases of the elderly, but we are currently facing an epidemic and it is not just in the elderly. This week, the University of NSW announced ‘sugar may have an immediate effect on the brain’s cognitive ability and cause memory loss”.
”We know obesity causes inflammation in the body, but we didn’t realise until recently that it causes changes in the brain,” said Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology at the University of NSW.
The good news is that you don’t have to become a food extremist to make some nutritional choices that will make you feel youthful, vibrant and balanced. Beating Sugar Addictions for Dummies offers many ways to transition easily to a low sugar lifestyle and here are some of our favourite suggestions.
Stop drinking your sugar. Liquid sugars are present in most soft drinks, sports drinks and store bought smoothies. Drink water, sparkling water and herbal teas.
Do the maths. Read the label and if the ingredients are readable than you are winning. Then go to sugar and divide that number by 4. Four grams of sugar equals a teaspoon. In 2009, the American Heart Association advised adults to eat no more than 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
Remove the cardboard. Get rid of packaged and boxed foods as much as possible. Buy real food that is seasonal and has not come off a manufacturing line.
Eat protein, fat and fibre. All of them will dampen your cravings for sugar and slow down the digestive process. This will allow you to avoid blood sugar spikes. And fibre is filling!
Check in with yourself. Sugar cravings are often because something deeper is going on. If you’re angry, sugar isn’t going to give you peace. If you’re tired, sugar is not going to give you a pillow.
Be kind to yourself. You don’t have to count every grain of sugar. Take a sensible approach of whole, real food most of the time. If you fall off the low sugar wagon, don’t beat yourself up, just simply go and make your next meal a desirable clean, low sugar meal.
Michele Chevalley Hedge is founder of A Healthy View www.ahealthyview.com.au.
Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies by Michele Chevalley Hedge is available from all good booksellers from $34.95