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The Age of Sugar

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 15   |   Comments: 0

Of all the foods we eat, refined sugar is considered to be one of the most harmful. And we eat a ton of it. In face, sugar consumption has increased by 28 percent since 1983, fueling soaring obesity rates and other health problems.

The statistics on how much sugar we consume is startling. On average, every American consumes 158 pounds of the white stuff each year! And, according to Marion Nestle, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, the consequences of eating all that sugar can be severe. She notes that, "Because sugary foods often replace more healthful foods, diets high in sugar are almost certainly contributing to osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease."

But it isn't just that we are swapping broccoli for Cokes and Krispy Kremes. Sugar consumption contributes to the formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) that are linked to Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis and other degenerative disease. The higher your AGE levels, the faster you age.

The ABCs of AGEs

Advanced glycation endproducts are formed when glucose (sugar) reacts with proteins in the walls of your blood vessels. The result is a hard caramel-like compound that interferes with multiple cell functions by changing the functions of proteins. Crosslinking occurs between adjacent protein strands and causes the blood vessels to become stiff.

AGEs can cause a rise in C-reactive protein and homocysteine levels. They can also modify LDL cholesterol so that it becomes more easily oxidized and deposited in vessel walls - which can cause narrowing and reduced blood flow. Diabetics are at particular risk since AGEs can cause complications like kidney disease, peripheral neuropathy and atherosclerosis.

While there is no way to measure AGEs, if you eat large quantities of refined sugar, you can safely assume that your body is creating too many of these damaging compounds. But sugar isn't the only culprit. Other "white" foods like bread, potatoes or pasta also contribute to the formation of AGEs.

So, how much of a threat are AGEs? Animal studies have shown that if dietary AGE intake is cut in half, the animals had an increased lifespan. A good place for us humans to start is by reducing the amount of refined sugar we consume. That means tossing out the sugar bowl and reading labels to find hidden sugar.

Cut Crosslinking With Carnosine

Since it's almost impossible to avoid all added sugar - and since the biological impact of AGEs are largely irreversible - it's a good idea to bolster your defenses against their damaging effects. One way to do this is by supplementing with carnosine.

This small molecule composed of the amino acids histidine and alanine helps defend the body's proteins against the crippling effects of glycation. By preventing the formation of dangerous AGEs, carnosine may help the body's proteins retain their youthful vigor and function. Studies also show that carnosine is a powerful antioxidant. Carnosine's age-defying effects make this critical nutrient an essential cornerstone of every anti-aging program.

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