Is your gluten free diet anti-aging?

Gluten is a word derived from the Latin language which gives the meaning “glue”. As the name suggests, gluten gives an adhesive effect to various cereal grains in addition to providing elasticity, maintaining the shape and helping in the rising process for the doughs made from those cereal grains. Gluten is made out of prolamins and glutelins which are two forms of storage proteins. It is stored along with starch in the tissues that are formed inside the seeds following fertilization, known as the endosperm. Gluten is commonly found in wheat, barley, rye, oats and several other cereal grains.

Gluten is identified as having aging effects primarily due to the biological mechanisms that gluten undergoes such as glycation, inflammation and oxidation. In addition to these three mechanisms, gluten is known to cause various conditions in some individuals such as celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity which may have aging effects. Even though there are several such mechanisms when gluten is considered, the most noteworthy issue that is talked about is the celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction that occurs in the presence of gluten in the diet. This condition can be treated by strictly following a non-gluten diet. Celiac disease causes the immune system to react in such a way that it damages the villi in the small intestine when gluten is ingested. It is also known to cause a number of other symptoms among which inflammation is identified as an accelerator for the aging process. Numerous animal and clinical studies have been conducted to identify how inflammation can induce aging and the results positively associate inflammations to induce aging and develop chronic diseases. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is defined as “a clinical entity induced by the ingestion of gluten leading to intestinal and/or extraintestinal symptoms that improve once the gluten-containing foodstuff is removed from the diet, and celiac disease and wheat allergy have been excluded”. It is another common disorder that is associated with a number of aging effects such as dementia and inflammation which may accelerate aging in addition to the general symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, peripheral immune and neuro-immune communication. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are also known to cause difficulties in recalling and memory and may lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

However, since celiac disease patients are to strictly follow gluten free diets, the effects may be minimal. Also, non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not occur in every individual and thus, there is a requirement to identify whether gluten can have an affect on aging in individuals who are not diagnosed with these diseases. Gluten causes aging in such situations by the process of glycation and oxidation. Glycation is a biochemical process that bonds lipid, protein and sugar molecules that forms Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) which causes stiffening of protein fibers, resulting in wrinkles and reduced performance and functionality of organs. This is a normal process that occurs, however more AGEs are produced in diets that contain gluten, resulting in premature aging. Oxidation of gluten also causes the hardening of proteins which can cause similar symptoms to glycation, resulting in lose or saggy skin.

To minimize premature aging, try to minimize gluten in your diet or switch to a gluten free diet to enjoy the maximum benefits.

References

  • Daulatzai, M.A. (2018). Non-celiac gluten sensitivity triggers gut dysbiosis, neuroinflammation, gut-brain axis dysfunction, and vulnerability for dementia. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25642988 [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].
  • Olabarrieta I, e. (2018). Aging properties of films of plasticized vital wheat gluten cast from acidic and basic solutions. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16677051 [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].
  • Radlović N, e. (2018). Effect of gluten-free diet on the growth and nutritional status of children with coeliac disease. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20069920 [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].

Intermittent fasting and its effects on aging

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating, or an eating pattern that involves periods of eating and staying without any food for a certain period of time and repeating this process as a cycle. Fasting is not necessarily a diet, but only a way of eating and not eating. It does not require you to stick to particular types or amount of food. This does not however, mean that you may eat as much as you want and whatever you want when you are not in a fasting stage. There is a liberty to what and how much you eat but eating excessive amounts defeats the purpose of fasting. This is a very common misconception that has been circling in certain communities that is just not true. Most common intermittent fasting methods include 16 hour fasts each day or fasting for an entire day, two days a week.

Effects of intermittent fasting

There exists a plethora of studies that have been conducted mostly on animal test subjects that show promising results and health benefits. Mark Matson, senior investigator of the National Institute of aging, states that fasting has shown promise in areas such as preservation of learning and memory functioning, reducing oxidative stresses and positively influencing of naturally occurring molecules and genes that helps overcome disease.

There are various changes that take place in the body when an individual is fasting. Fasting enables the body to enter into ketosis, which switches the medium of energy for the body from food to stored fat. This simply means that the body will use stored fat as a form of energy resulting in fat burn. When you eat continuously, the body will store the excess as fat to be used later. But this fat will never be used unless you are in ketosis. Fasting makes this stored fat more accessible by reducing insulin levels which prevents the body from entering into ketosis.

In addition, fasting induces various cell repair processes. This process of cell repair occurring from fasting is very similar to how cells respond to exercise. When depriving the body of food, the cells will undergo stresses and allowing time for recovery makes them stronger. The cell repair that follows can help get rid of old and dysfunctional proteins that are inside the cells. Gene expressions also take a turn for the better by having changes related to longevity and immunity against disease. These effects can help in healthy aging in individuals.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, dietary restrictions such as fasting can manipulate mitochondrial matrices in cells and can increase the lifespan and improve health. This study demonstrates the decreasing ability of cells to process energy as time passes and how it is a main cause in aging and diseases related to aging. The study further shows that fasting for periods of time such as in intermittent fasting can induce healthy aging.

Mark Matson, from the National Institute of aging, also states that intermittent fasting can have effects on the brain that can improve and also memory and the ability to learn. Not consuming food for ten to sixteen hours makes the body utilize fat stores to obtain energy. This releases ketones that shows the above beneficial properties when entered into the blood stream. Fasting can help reduce risks of aging related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and help keep memory and cognitive functions intact for longer.

References

Anton, S. and Leeuwenburgh, C. (2013). Fasting or caloric restriction for Healthy Aging. Experimental Gerontology, 48(10), pp.1003-1005.
Collier, R. (2013). Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 185(9), pp.E363-E364.
Patterson, R. and Sears, D. (2017). Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting. Annual Review of Nutrition, 37(1), pp.371-393.

Sleep well for good health

“Sleep is overrated” and “Sleep when you’re dead” are two common phrases we hear people say. Most scientific studies, however, tend to disagree.

Sleep is actually one of the most important things in our lives for ensuring good health and a general sense of well-being. Here are just a few of the well documented benefits:

Stay Slim. Skipping sleep can actually be detrimental to your weight as it can slow down the metabolism, according to a study by scientists at the Uppsala University of Sweden.  Other studies have shown that people who miss out on sleep are more likely to crave carbohydrates, eat less at breakfast and have more late night snacks.

Better appearance. We are all familiar with that tired, sleep-deprived look on our faces when we fail to get a regular 7-8 hours a night. Skin appears duller and fine wrinkles more pronounced. However, after a decent night’s sleep the complexion is brighter and fresher looking in appearance.

Live Longer. Studies have repeatedly found that people who regularly sleep for less than six hours a night are at risk of dying sooner.

Other benefits of proper sleep are better concentration, a stronger immune system, improved performance while doing exercise and you’ll no doubt find you are in a better mood as well.

So before you think about burning the candle at both ends, set aside at least seven or eight hours every night to get a good sleep so you can wake up feeling and looking fully rejuvenated!

Telomere

Alcohol and Aging

While many of us enjoy a few wines, beers or G & Ts to unwind, it’s good to be aware of the ageing affect alcohol can have on our bodies. In moderation alcohol is fine and can even have some health benefits, but regularly drinking in excess can make us look older faster.

Alcohol dehydrates our skin, making it appear dry and dull. Vitamin A is vital for the production of collagen but alcohol rapidly depletes our vitamin A levels and a lack of collagen means our skins loses its elasticity. As a result our skin is more prone to developing wrinkles and is less supple and taut. Alcohol also leads to puffiness and redness, so to keep your skin glowing and fresh looking, stick to one standard drink a day for women and two for men. Make sure you drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins.

Drinking alcohol also disrupts our sleep cycles and can cause palpitations as our bodies struggle to process it. Sleep is a vital time for rest and cell restoration, so don’t overdo it if you want to wake up feeling and looking rested, with a bright, clear complexion.