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    Fact or Fiction: Does Consuming Sugar Accelerate Aging?

      |  Sep 06, 2023

    What happens to the body when we eat sugar?

    When we consume sugar, the body undergoes a process called glycation, in which sugar combines with proteins and lipids (fats) to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). An excess of AGEs causes the production of free radicals, leading to oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

    Excess AGEs also reduce and damage collagen production, leading to premature signs of aging on your skin. But chronic inflammation can also increase your metabolic age—the number of calories your body burns while at rest, compared to other people in your age group. If you regularly consume foods with added sugar, you might have a metabolic age that’s higher than your actual age.

    High sugar consumption has also been linked to high levels of “bad” cholesterol, and the increased risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, IBS, liver disease, arthritis, and more.

    What type of sugar causes aging?

    You might have heard that certain fruits and vegetables have high sugar content, but these foods contain natural sugars, and are not linked to the health risks described above. Because they’re part of whole foods, and consumed alongside fiber and other essential nutrients, the body is able to process them without creating AGEs. 

    The sugars that cause glycation and AGEs are put into food as sweeteners, and many foods have them, not just candy or sugary sodas. The next time you’re at the grocery store, check the nutritional label for added sugar content — you might be surprised to see that even products like whole wheat crackers sometimes contain added sugars. In fact, the average American’s daily calorie intake consists of 13% added sugar, much higher than the recommended 5% - 15% from added sugars and solid fats combined.

    How to reduce inflammation and other effects of sugar

    The most straightforward way to reduce the aging effects of added sugar is to change your diet. Prioritizing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and other unprocessed foods can reduce existing inflammation and protect your body from future damage. Certain foods like chickpeas, bell peppers, blueberries, and other foods are also high in inflammation fighting antioxidants. You don’t have to give up sugar entirely, but if you need a daily sweet treat, try swapping out processed baked goods for fruit or dark chocolate. 

    Alongside changes in diet, regular exercise can also improve your metabolic age. Any aerobic exercise will help, but strength training and HIIT workouts are especially effective, as muscle mass is essential to your metabolism as you age.

    Anti-inflammatory supplements can also reduce inflammation and associated side effects in the body. N-Acetylcysteine, an amino acid, increases levels of l-glutathione in the body, which supports over detoxification and anti-inflammation. It’s available in daily supplement form, and also prevents general wellness as you age.

    Cosmetic procedures and products can also reduce the effects of inflammation and collagen degradation on the skin. Micro-needling, a process in which a licensed clinician uses a small needle to prick the face, stimulates your body’s healing response and increases collagen production. Retinol, whether prescription grade or over the counter, increases collagen production by penetrating the skin to influence cellular behavior, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

    Assess your metabolic age

    Modern Age’s Aging Wellness Assessment offers a holistic picture of your health as you age, including your metabolic health and subjective age. You’ll work with a licensed clinician to assess 55 biomarkers essential to aging, complete a cognitive assessment, conduct a bone scan, and create a customized treatment plan for better, healthier aging. Unsure where to start? Learn more and book a free consultation today.