You may be familiar with the old saying "You're only as old as your arteries." As the saying implies, the number of candles on your birthday cake may represent your chronological age, but they don't necessarily represent your biological or vascular age. As our culture desperately tries to find solutions that camouflage the signs of aging, what they don't know is that the secret to maintaining our youth and vitality involves preserving the health of our arteries. At the same time, the medical community continues to search for new advances in surgical procedures and drug therapies while ignoring what Hippocrates recommended - the best way to prevent disease is at the end of our forks. Slowing down the aging process cannot be found in a bottle, pill or procedure!
Can We "Turn Back the Clock?"
Multiple diet and lifestyle factors influence the age of our arteries like getting adequate sleep and exercise, abstaining from addictive substances and maintaining a healthy weight. However, our food choices in particular supply the nutrients that come into contact with every cell within the body. Every meal we consume bathes trillions of cells with either life-supporting nutrients or disease-promoting toxins. If our diets consist mainly of heavily processed foods and animal products, rich in saturated fats, oils, salt and sugar, we are not only creating an environment that encourages chronic degenerative disease, we are damaging the 60,000-100,000 miles of blood vessels that determine the biological age of our arteries.
How Does Refined Sugar Age our Bodies?
Everywhere we look, we are surrounded by foods that seduce our taste buds. In particular, sugar has been the subject of much media attention. Dr. Michael Klaper addresses one aspect of consuming refined sugars in the above video clip taken from his Salt, Sugar and Oil presentation. I like how Dr. Klaper explains how refined sugars "AGES" the body. "Within minutes" Dr. Klaper says, "your bloodstream is flooded with sugar. Soon, the structural proteins in all your tissues – the elastic fibers of your skin, the hemoglobin in your blood, the filter membranes in your kidneys, the inner lining of your blood vessels, the lenses of your eyes – all get sticky with sugar (the chemists say they become glycosylated.) Everything gets sticky! You don't want to flood your tissues and make them sticky!"
Dr. Klaper mentions a French chemist named Henry Maillard who discovered how heating sugars and proteins together creates what is called Advanced Glycation End Products. More specifically, as refined sugars are taken into the body, the temperature of our body heats the sugars and proteins causing them to oxidize and become damaged. This process was termed "The Maillard reaction" named after Henry Maillard. Dr. Klaper goes on to say, "These oxidized, damaged, and congealed proteins, (Advanced Glycation End Products) do not function normally – the gummed-up, oxidized protein fibers break, skin cracks in the sunlight, eyes become less permeable to light, muscle proteins do not contract as vigorously and brain function dwindles. Sound familiar? The aging process perhaps? EATING SUGAR AGES US! Remember, the acronym for Advanced Glycation End Products is AGE’s!"
Consume Sugar as a Flavoring - Not a Food!
For optimal health, it's always best to try to avoid adding refined sugars to our food, although it would be better to add a little sugar to make our food more pleasing to our palate so that we will enjoy eating healthy plant foods instead of not adding a little sugar and avoiding eating a whole plant food diet. The problem arises when sugar is CONSUMED AS A FOOD INSTEAD OF AS A FLAVORING. For example, adding a small amount of sugar to your oatmeal would be using it to enhance the taste of a healthy food item. It has been used as a FLAVORING. However, the majority of Americans eat sugar AS A FOOD. Click here to watch Dr. Klaper lightheartedly demonstrate the difference between the two.
The amount of sugar one adds to their diet depends on many factors. My Starch-Smart® System provides a detailed and customized description of the varied recommended levels that I encourage my patients to follow. Young, active patients who are healthy and trim could enjoy using a small amount of sugar as an optional FLAVORING (as mentioned above), while patients who are struggling to reverse a serious disease should avoid adding any refined sugars.
It's true, we "ARE ONLY AS OLD AS OUR ARTERIES!" The typical American diet dramatically ages the body, making it more susceptible to age-associated illness, disability and premature death. The good news is that consuming a diet based on whole, natural plant foods, rich in colorful vegetables, whole grains, beans, fruit and some nuts/seeds slows down the aging process, enabling us to live to be a ripe old age while avoiding many chronic degenerative diseases and disabilities!
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