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Is sugar linked to premature aging?

Sugar has been around for centuries, even though it was not always cheap or abundant as it is now. It was produced in ancient India and was first found in Europe as an imported medicine, not as a sweetener, in the 1st century CE. Sugar is a soluble carbohydrate which is used extensively in the food industry to provide a sweet taste and flavor. There are several types of sugar which is derived from a number of different sources. The “table sugar” or granulated sugar which is most commonly used is a sucrose. Sucrose is formed by the two simple sugars known as glucose and fructose. When sugar enters the body, sucrose is broken down into the simple sugars, fructose and glucose again.

Even though sugar is one of the most essential ingredients when it comes to preparing food, it is associated with several health effects. The impact of sugar is quite significant, so much so that many countries are setting quantitative targets for added sugar. Increased use of sugar is becoming a significant issue as it causes many diseases and has a harmful effect on metabolism. Sugar contains a large number of calories but does not have any essential nutrients. Therefore, consuming large quantities of sugar can cause various nutrition deficiencies. It can also cause issues with your teeth since sugar provides an easily digestible form of energy to the harmful bacteria in the mouth. The fructose present in sugar can overexert the liver since the liver is the only significant place which can metabolize it. Overloading the liver with sugar will cause serious problems in the liver. Increased sugar intake can also build up a resistance to insulin which is an important hormone in the body. This can lead up to diseases such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Insulin resistance is believed to be the major cause for obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

Recent studies have identified sugar to be a catalyst in the aging process, giving your skin the appearance that it has aged. According to a paper published by F.W Danby from the Department of Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, glucose and fructose present in sugar gets combined with the amino acids found in collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin supports the dermis, and when increased sugar levels are found in the body this combination with amino acids form Advanced Glycation End Products also known as “AGEs” which can elevate the aging of skin. This process will be further sped up during the presence of ultra violet radiation on the skin. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to dark circles, wrinkles and dehydrated skin, causing the aging process to occur much faster than normal. Therefore, to answer the question of whether sugar can age you simply, yes, it can.

The problem is that it is difficult to keep track of how much sugar you consume because almost all foods contain sugar. This is the main reason why we are ingested with more sugar than we realize. Therefore, it is important to understand how much sugar in what you eat and to maintain a healthy intake level. This will ensure that you can lead a healthy life free from diseases and untimely aging.

References

  • Moxham, Roy, The Great Hedge of India, Carroll & Graf, 2001 ISBN 0-7867-0976-6.
  • Danby, F. (2010). Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clinics in Dermatology, 28(4), pp.409-411.
  • R, N. (2018). Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27224842 [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018].
  • Ruxton CH, e. (2018). Guidelines for sugar consumption in Europe: is a quantitative approach justified? – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10452404 [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018].
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