There has been quite a bit of new
data coming in with regard to the way sugar actually contributes
to the aging process. The thought was that sugar that is
taken into the body actually creates a scenario where human cells
throughout the body age faster when raw sugar is consumed.
The results of several related
studies presented at the June, 2002 meeting of the American
Diabetes Association confirm the findings that high-glycemic
carbohydrates--sugars and starchy foods such as pasta, potatoes,
and bread--cause an inflammatory response that accelerates aging
and contributes to a variety of diseases (heart disease, some
types of cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, etc.).
In addition, one of the studies
showed that the antioxidant vitamins E and C block this
inflammatory response. The results of the new studies support the
conclusions of a prior study showing that dietary sugars increase
blood levels of free radicals and pro-inflammatory enzymes to a
greater degree than foods that are high in fat or protein.
Junk Food Causes
In one of the new studies, subjects ate a 900-calorie fast-food
breakfast consisting of an egg-and-ham sandwich (high in saturated
fats) and hash browns (high in sugars, starches, trans-fatty acids
and saturated fats).
Blood samples were taken before
eating and at one, two and three hours after eating, to detect any
increase in free radicals or blood mediators of inflammation. The
fast-food meal caused an increase in inflammatory markers that
lasted three to four hours, while the level of an
anti-inflammatory blood factor was reduced.
Another of the new studies showed
that the sugary, fatty meals reduced the ability of vessels to
expand and contract in response to changes in blood flow.
Antioxidants to the
In a companion
study, participants took 1,200 IU of vitamin E and 500 mg of
vitamin C before consuming sugar (glucose). Their blood levels of
oxygen free radicals and pro-inflammatory markers increased when
sugar was consumed alone, but did not increase when accompanied by
these two antioxidant vitamins. (This does not mean that you can
safely eat junk food just because you take these vitamins!)
Together, these results provide
more strong evidence that dietary starches, sugars, and saturated
fats promote inflammation and premature aging.