Aging Well and the Link to Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
For many years it was thought that people’s life expectancy was largely determined by their genetics. Today, it is widely believed that our genetics play a smaller role than originally thought.
More evidence points to the influence of environmental factors such as lifestyle and diet on the aging process and our life expectancy – all factors which we can influence and control. Many of the leading causes of death, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and dementia are linked to metabolic health.
One of the best ways to influence metabolic health is keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range and preventing spikes after eating a meal. A staggering one in four adults over the age of sixty-five will develop high blood sugar mostly due to poor lifestyle choices.
Increasingly, research shows that calorie restriction and lowering post-meal glucose (blood sugar) spikes may contribute to an increased lifespan, slow aging, and reduce age-related diseases.
The types of food we eat also play a role in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels and preventing spikes. Consuming whole foods that are rich in fiber can help to reduce the digestion of carbohydrates in the gut and lowers post-meal glucose spikes.
Modern diets are often high in sugar, fats, and protein and when heat is applied during cooking, they produce high levels of chemical compounds known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are the result of the Maillard or browning reaction, and form when sugars bond to proteins, lipids or nucleic acids (DNA/RNA). Our bodies also produce AGEs during normal metabolism of our food (the sugars we eat can bond to our proteins and DNA/RNA), and while low levels are normal, high levels of AGEs will increase oxidative stress and inflammation in our bodies. It is important to try to limit our exposure to sugar to reduce AGEs we eat and make within our body.
There are several ways to lower the amount of sugar in our diet.
- Avoid or reduce starch and sugar in our diet
- Eat foods like blackberries and blueberries, that contain chemical compounds that have been shown to naturally inhibit the enzymes that break down carbohydrates.
- Support our diet with inhibitors, that support in blocking the breakdown of carbohydrates in our diet resulting in a lowering of post-meal glucose and insulin levels
Emerging research suggests that telomeres, the protective covers at the end of chromosomes, play a vital role slowing the aging process. When cells replicate, these protective covers help prevent DNA from being damaged. Each time a cell divides the telomere shortens slightly. Lifestyle also plays an important role as obesity, lack of exercise, and insulin resistance are all linked to shorter telomeres.
Calorie restriction and lowering post-meal glucose spikes is the gold-standard method to increase life-span and slow aging. There are a variety of health benefits from lowering blood glucose from our meals, ranging from better cognitive function, cellular energy and cellular repair, and cardiovascular and metabolic health.
What can you do today to help you to age better?