SUGAR - THE AGEing PROCESS CATALYST
BY STAFF WRITER
For a number of reasons, we at Hammer Nutrition recommend limiting or avoiding the intake of sugar. But what is sugar? And are carbohydrates and sugar the same thing? The words carbohydrate and sugar are often used to describe the same thing, but ultimately we have simple carbohydrates (most often referred to as sugars) and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are the building blocks for which larger, more complex carbohydrates which are called polysaccharides. So simple joins simple to create complex! A “simple” way to identify simple sugars is to look for the -ose in their name. Eg: Sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, ribose, etc.
Right…on to the topic we do not prefer to discuss, AGE and the effect of sugar on AGE. No, that is not a typo you are seeing. “AGE” stands for Advanced Glycation End products or AGEs. AGEs are formed by a process called glycation, which is the attachment (cross-linking) of sugars onto bodily proteins or fats. This cross-linking negatively alters the biological and structural roles of these proteins and lipids, in essence forming non-functioning structures in the body that are highly susceptible to free radical damage, which can escalate throughout the entire body. As Dr. Bill Misner states, “The underlying toxic effect of undesirable cross-linking stems from the fact that the cross-linked molecule cannot assume the correct shape for proper functioning.”
The glycation and cross-linking process begins with what is known as the Maillard reaction. If you’ve cooked any number of food substances and notice a browning effect, which happens via the chemical reaction that occurs when the protein and the carbohydrates in the food are exposed to heat, you’ve got a good illustration of what happens in the body. The final result of this process is Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). As one nutritional scientist writes, “While glycation is a normal consequence of aging, it is far from desirable.” The reasons are numerous:
- AGEs contribute to the loss of flexibility and deterioration of connective tissue
- AGEs trigger chronic inflammation
- AGEs play a role in abnormal platelet clumping, a significant factor for increased risk of heart disease
- AGEs are linked to increased blood pressure
- AGEs are purported to be involved in a damaging protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, a protein known as beta-amyloid peptide
- AGEs are even implicated in a variety of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome
If that weren’t enough, AGE’s are believed to be responsible in the development of cataracts in the lens of the eye, a drop in kidney function, damage to the endothelial cell layer of blood vessels, and the sagging and wrinkling of the skin. So what can you do to help minimize AGE-related health issues?
MOST IMPORTANT: Be cognizant of your sugar intake, keeping in mind that a number of common food items often times contain hefty amounts of sugar. Reducing your intake of refined sugars and high glycemic index carbohydrates is definitely a step in the right direction. AGEs accumulate over time, and their formation and accumulation is greatly accelerated with high levels of circulating sugars in the body.
SECOND IN LINE OF IMPORTANCE: Manage your blood sugar. A number of nutrients are known to support healthy blood sugar levels, with perhaps the most well-known and most-used nutrient being chromium. Lipoic acid, ideally the “r” isomer form, which is found in Mito Caps, plays many important roles in the body, with helping to maintain optimal blood sugar levels being but one of them. The flavonoid, quercetin, found in both Premium Insurance Caps and Tissue Rejuvenator, is also known to help improve insulin sensitivity. All of the B vitamins, especially biotin, folic acid, B1 (thiamin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12—all of which are in Premium Insurance Caps—are involved in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Lastly, one of the attributes of the multi-beneficial nutrient Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)—one of the main components in Race Caps Supreme—is its ability to assist in maintaining and improving blood sugar levels.
THE NEXT STEP: Make sure your diet contains antioxidant-rich foods, especially whole fruits and raw vegetables, and that you augment your diet with a wide variety of antioxidants from supplements such as Premium Insurance Caps, Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps and Super Antioxidant. The rationale for this recommendation is that, although excess sugar consumption is arguably the primary culprit in the formation of AGEs, they are (in the words of Dr. Misner) “also made by processes or substances that oxidize easily and/ or produce free radicals. Anything that creates unstable free radicals will increase AGEs. On the other hand, anything that neutralizes unstable free radicals will decrease or minimize the harmful effect of AGEs.”
FINAL STEP: Help stop the formation of Advanced Glycation End products. For this purpose, there is arguably no better nutrient than carnosine. Carnosine is referred to as a dipeptide, composed of one molecule each of histidine and alanine, and studies have shown that it effectively inhibits the processes that trigger the formation of AGEs. Carnosine can most definitely be thought of as a “multi-purpose” nutrient, with the following attributes:
- It is an effective lactic acid buffer
- It has powerful antioxidant effects
- As mentioned earlier, it has antiglycating effects For these reasons, this amazing nutrient can be found in adequate amounts in the Hammer Nutrition fuels HEED, Perpetuem and Recoverite.
Carnosine supplements are also widely available. The main take-home point, however, is that sugar plays a major role, perhaps THE major role, in the formation of AGEs, which, as you can see, have a number of negative health consequences. Reducing the amount of sugar you consume, taking nutrients that help maintain optimal blood sugar levels, consuming antioxidant-rich foods, supplementing with a wide range of antioxidants, and fueling with carnosine fortified Hammer Nutrition fuels is an excellent strategy to help avoid the AGEing process.