07 Jul Fighting Glycation And Ageing
The Origin of Wrinkles
When our skin ages, it is primarily due to the phenomenon of ‘glycation’. You can think of glycation as caramelisation: the sugar molecules in your system stick onto your fats and proteins (tissues) and make them ‘caramelise’. After a while, this process forms advanced glycation (appropriately known as AGEs) and is, as you have guessed, irreversible.
Now, the proteins in our skin that are the most prone to glycation, are the ones that make a youthful complexion-collagen and elastin, which are soft and elastic fibres. These fibres form the dermis, or if you will, the mattress under the epidermis. Now when collagen and elastin are ‘glycated’ or caramelized, they become discoloured and weak, and stiffen and break. Little by little, the dermis loses its elasticity, and wrinkles begin to set and deepen, and your skin begins to lose its radiance.
The ill-effects of glycation do not stop at skin; the connective tissue damage and chronic inflammation resulting from high blood sugar can lead to other debilitating conditions, such as cataracts, Alzheimer’s, vascular tightening and disease of the pancreas and liver.
The external signs of glycation show up around the age of 30 or 35, particularly with the build up of sun damage, environmental oxidative stress and hormonal changes. But the process also speeds up when you have an excess of sugar molecules in your system, which is caused by eating grilled food: grilled meats (especially on the barbecue), fries and oils cooked over 180° C. These effects accumulate over time. And yet, while glycation can’t be completely stopped, it can be slowed down.
From a dietary standpoint, the first part to delaying this process is to avoid foods that increase your blood sugar levels. These include white sugar, high-fructose sugars corn syrup and starchy foods (such as bread, pasta, cereals, potatoes and dried beans). The second part is to stop eating grilled food, especially those cooked on the barbecue. You should substitute these with low-temperature cooked and steamed foods. You should also look to consuming more raw vegetables.
The Ageing of the Human Body
Here is what we know today about the ageing processes of the human body:
- Oxidation, in other words the ‘rust’ of the cells
- Hormonal exhaustion
- Poisoning by heavy metals, in particular lead and mercury
- Degenerative or infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites
- Lack of physical exercise.
This means that if you were to theoretically maintain a balanced level of hormones, rid your body of heavy metals, strengthen your immune system so that it protects you from infections and exercise regularly, then your life span would increase.
The fact of the matter is that you can achieve these by natural means—by taking vitamins, amino acids, essential fats, minerals, antioxidants, fibres, probiotics and by avoiding consuming food or chemicals that poison you. You must also limit sugars to protect all the cells of your body from oxidation.
So let’s talks about the ways in which you can protect yourself from oxidation.
The cells of your body are either flesh or bone, and are made up of proteins or fats. The brain in particular consists of 80% of fat! In both cases, these cells can be damaged or destroyed by aggressive molecules called free radicals. This phenomenon is similar to rust and is a key factor of ageing.
Oxidation is caused by:
- Tobacco, excess alcohol and air pollution
- Stress, which produces cortisol
- Chemical pollution and radiation, including sunlight
When you are young, your body has more resources to withstand damage, as you are producing collagen and antioxidants in large quantities. Unfortunately, the production of these antioxidants decreases with age, and these sugar by-products begin to build up at the same time your threshold for damage gets lower.
Fortunately, this can be delayed by increasing your intake of antioxidants to fight free radicals, which can be found in fresh vegetables (especially coloured vegetables), red and black berries (blueberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries), grapes (resveratrol), tomatoes (lycopene), walnuts (selenium), spices (curcumin), green tea (EGCG) and eggs (a good source of cysteine).
Eliminating Heavy Metals
The air, ocean/sea water as well as our diet are increasingly loaded with heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which over time, accumulate in our bodies. These metals are defining factors in many life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. They interfere with the functioning of our vital organs, such as the brain and endocrine glands (which produce hormones). And so it is vital to regularly carry out a ‘cleansing’ to eliminate these poisons, which is possible thanks to substances that trap heavy metals and carry them with us when we eliminate them naturally (mainly by urine). Without these molecules, our body would be unable to cope in getting rid of these toxic products. To decrease your exposure to heavy metals, begin by avoiding high-chain predator fish. As we all know, fish accumulate metals throughout their lives: and so the more you consume an important high-chain predator, the more metal it has in the blood. So choose sardines, mackerels and anchovies over salmon, tuna and swordfish.
Engaging in Moderate Exercise
And lastly, it is essential to exercise at least one hour per day. If you are not one to partake in a ‘sport’, you should try walking, cycling, gardening, DIY projects or even housework and cooking. The key is to limit the number of hours you spend in a sitting position, and more importantly, watching TV. Each additional hour spent watching television reduces your life expectancy by 20 minutes. We are absolutely not made for this rhythm of life. As humans, we are adapted to travelling the countryside and forests, to crossing rivers and climbing trees and rocks. The modern sedentary lifestyle has catastrophic effects on our muscles and bone structure. Our bones, like our muscles, need to be under pressure and tension. The less we solicit them, the more fragile they become. You do not need to sweat or be out of breath, but it is important to carry out varied movements every day. Moderate exercise helps to eliminate toxins, strengthen the heart, and increase muscle mass in relation to fat mass.