How To Age Less

Learn how to trick your body into staying young.

from Reader's Digest | November 2007

Thinning hair, body parts that give in to gravity and joints that creak are signs of aging. But did you know sugar may have something to do with it?

It’s called glycosylation, and it occurs when sugar molecules (glucose) floating around in your blood attach to protein molecules, diminishing their effectiveness and causing inflammation. Normally, glucose is what gives your cells energy, but when you develop insulin resistance (from type 2 diabetes or from being overweight), the insulin can’t get all the glucose into your cells effectively. So glucose stays in the blood and gunks up the proteins. It’s kind of like acid rain — it damages the things it touches and makes them vulnerable to tears. So the body repairs the tears on the inside layer of your arteries with LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. That causes plaque in the artery walls. And that makes vessels less elastic and less able to absorb the pressure generated by the heart, so the higher number of your blood pressure (e.g., 160/60) increases.

Glucose also affects the collagen in your skin and joints so they become less elastic, which can lead to wrinkles, joint problems and arthritis.

Damage control: Reducing sugar in your diet is a good start, and you know what that means: more fruits and veggies, complex carbs from whole grains, and fewer simple sugars and processed foods.

Get your blood pressure under control by walking 30 minutes a day — every day — and try to eat ten tablespoons of tomato sauce a week. Coffee, tea and cinnamon may help too.

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