DEGRADATION AND AGING: IS HOW WE DIE
All diseases evolve under the same biomechanical principals.
Life will always try to stay alive even if this means creating disease in the process.
Our human body lives in a continuum natural process of degradation and restoration.
What is important to understand is that this ongoing state of cell re-construction and cell degradation is automatic and necessary. This process takes place without our consent and is not conscious. Our good health depends on this balance between body reconstruction and body restoration. However, staying healthy is easy. We just have to keep the balance on the
"We can't heal our illness by treating our body as separated parts". chronic conditions cannot be treated individually as though they were unrelated. For this reason, we are using a holistic approach based on the science of nutritional biochemistry, to prevent and treat chronic disease. Its time to move from the old paradigm of treating our chronic conditions as unrelated.
Glycation is the result of the non-enzymatic bonding of a sugar molecule such as glucose or fructose to a protein or lipid molecule (like cholesterol). Glycation can occur either inside the body (endogenous glycation) as well as outside the body (exogenous glycation). Exogenous glycation refers to foods that are already oxidized and damaged even before they are eaten.Think of the 100th batch of french fries which have been fried in the same vat of overheated, broken down and oxidized oil at the fast food joint. Either way, glycation is a corrosive process that impairs the function of important proteins and lipoproteins (like LDL cholesterol). This unregulated binding of sugars to proteins and lipid molecules in our blood system it is a major cause of tissue damage and inflammation. It is a common precursor of most chronic diseases.
The study of the effects of exogenous glycation is an active area of research. Scientists have described the detrimental effects of Advanced Glycation End productS (AGES) on our tissues and organs. One example of an AGES is dietary sugar bonding to the small LDL particles that cling to the endothelial lining cells of our arteries, causing stiffening, damage and disease. This is otherwise known as coronary artery disease. The process starts up after we consume and absorb dietary preformed, exogenously glycated foods such as French fries, donuts, potato chips, deep fried anything, and much, much more. These AGES are formed when sugars are heated with proteins or fats. When food is brown (known as browning or Maillard reaction), you can generally assume that it contains AGES. Just check out any KFC advertisement. Interestingly, sugar is often added to the products listed above to enhance browning, crispiness and taste. Temperatures over 120 degrees C greatly accelerate most chemical reactions including glycation or browning effects. The more that we cook, fry, bake or grill our food, the more AGES we produce. We will absorb these hazardous products after we consume these prepared foods. Animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein are generally AGE-rich and are prone to further AGE formation during cooking and grilling.
Also contribute to the formation of acrylamide, a carcinogen produced during cooking, further explaining why and how exogenous glycation could be a major contributor to inflammation and disease. It is also important to understand that we humans have defense mechanisms to deal with glycation and carcinogens. The problem is that our modern American diet, where food manufacturers have added sugars to most processed foods to enhance color, flavor, smell, consistency and appearance, bears no resemblance to anything natural. These processed foods that contain significant browning and caramelization and even directly added preformed AGES, are overwhelming our defense systems. Our body cannot cope with that degree of bombardment. Negative consequences ensue. Foods with very high exogenous AGES includes donuts, barbecued meats, cake, hot dogs, sweet drinks, caramel, burgers, dark colored soda among hundreds more. Most refined or packaged foods have the potential to damage our cholesterol and other lipoproteins through the process of glycation. It appears that fructose and galactose have approximately 10 times the glycation activity of glucose, our body's primary fuel.
These days, our body weight and metabolism are no longer under the control of natural foods or a clean, safe environment (both physical and mental). Our modern lives have been hijacked by out-of-control exposure to highly processed foods, most of which contain staggering amounts of added sugar. Add that to our stressful lives and the highly addictive nature of sugar, and the result is metabolic mayhem! Most people here in Massachusetts, and I really mean most people, are walking around with a minimum of 7 to 10 pounds of extra fat. Some may think of the extra fat as more of a vanity issue. The way that I see it is as follows. From a metabolic perspective, that extra 10 pounds represents incubating metabolic syndrome growing inside of you. Having just 10 extra pounds of fat around our organs activates all of the metabolic pathways that link health to disease and accelerates the aging process. Metabolic syndrome is more properly called insulin resistance syndrome or cardio-metabolic syndrome. Either way, they all mean that our pancreases are releasing too much insulin as a result of our food choices. If this metabolic state continues because of high glycemic food choices, this constant provocation of insulin release will ultimately result in continuously high levels of circulating insulin, even when you’re not eating. If the condition of high insulin is not addressed, eventually it will lead us to insulin resistance and it will lead us to any of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, among many others. I certainly don't mean to imply that sugar is the only cause of disease but it probably rates as public enemy #1. There are many different moving parts in our diets, our lifestyle and environment that come together as a team to cause or accelerate disease.
Having in mind our modern American diet and understanding a bit about glycation and AGES, I see over-consumption of sugar as the major initiator of most known chronic conditions today. That is why i am going concentrate on explaining the huge negative impact of having only 2 sugary snacks a day between meals. The timing of when sugary food is consumed is as important as the quantity of sugar consumed. Think of processed sugary foods as foods that have had all of the natural water and fiber removed to enhance shelf life. The whole product is virtually predigested for you, leaving your metabolism and digestive system very little work left to do. The result is that the sugar contained within the packaged foods is very rapidly absorbed into our blood circulation. Our pancreas sees this as a toxic sugar load requiring a rapid and large release of insulin. This burst of insulin will take up to 6 hours to drift back down. If we take another sugary snack after a few hours the process is reactivated and soon our insulin is chronically circulating at high levels. By consuming only two processed snacks per day, anyone can develop metabolic syndrome in just 3-4 years.
For most humans, consuming the equivalent of 2 to 3 teaspoons of table sugar (1/3 of a glazed donut) every 3 to 5 hours throughout the day, will raise and chronically maintain our blood glucose (above 120 mg/dl) and insulin at unsafe levels and will start the damaging process of protein glycation. In order to deal with these repetitive sugar loads, our insulin levels will become chronically elevated as well. Remember, insulin will stay up for a minimum of 5 to 7 hours after a sugar load, depending on our weight. A healthy blood sugar reading should be under 120 mg/dl after eating a full meal and it should go back down to baseline of 70-80 within 2 to 4 hours afterward. However, if a large glycemic load is consumed, the sugar level in our blood stays higher than 120 mg/dl for too long (closer to 4 to 7 hours) after just one meal. That’s a very good indicator that our pancreas is already having a hard time producing sufficient amounts of insulin to control our blood sugar. Basically 2 daily snack times + 3 meals are driving continuous hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia and these eventually become metabolic syndrome. This is a very important information to keep in mind as we go forward because it will help you understand that the path to health relies 100% on the times during which insulin is NOT activated.
Here is the case of Marcus Aurelius, a cautionary tale. Marcus Aurelius used to have 2 snack times per day. He has a glazed donut for mid-morning snack and an energy bar with a bottle of Snapple tea around 5 PM. He also has breakfast at 8 AM, lunch at 1:30 PM and dinner at 8 PM. Remember to stay focused on the food timing and how long his insulin stays active. Digestion starts in our mouth. Sugar and insulin levels will start to go up as soon as food touches our tongue. In the case of Marcus Aurelius, this means that as of 8 AM, his insulin has been activated for a minimum of 2-4 hrs depending on his choice. We already know that his habit is to have a glazed donut for snack around 11 AM. A glazed donut has roughly 10 teaspoons of pure sugar. This will cause a huge spike in blood sugar. The insulin released by his pancreas at breakfast time (8 AM) is no longer sufficient to deal with the incoming sugar load from the 11 AM glazed donut so at 11 AM his pancreas will be forced to produce another burst of insulin to deal with those incoming 10 teaspoons of sugar from his mid-morning snack which by the way, will be directly stored in his fat cells. This insulin surge will surely last 6 hours. Now it is 1:30 PM and lunch time. Blood glucose will rise. Insulin is again released with an anticipated duration of minimum 3-4 hours if it’s a healthy meal. But we have the 2nd daily snack coming. It is 5 PM snack time with a Cliff bar washed down with a Snapple iced tea which together adds up to a whopping 14 teaspoons of pure sugar! Think about it. 14 teaspoons of sugar hiding in his 5 PM snack equals to 56 grams of pure sugar, mostly coming from his sugary drink. That’s an insane amount of sugar that Marcus is dumping into his circulation which is already being overloaded by his previous 8 AM breakfast, followed by his 11 AM snack, 1:30 PM lunch. Now at 5 PM, his snack will cause another spike in his already elevated insulin level and this together with his 8 pm dinner will most likely keep Marcus’ insulin high until at least 2 AM. Remember, when insulin is high, we are exclusively in fat storing mode. When insulin is up, we store extra glucose as fat. This is how we start gaining weight, by transforming the sugar in our blood into fat in our adipose tissue. Sequestering the sugar as fat is a safer alternative to elevated circulating glucose levels which we know causes damaging glycation.
Do you see what's happening with Marcus? From 8 am until 2 AM poor Marcus Aurelius’ metabolism is being abused. Constant high sugar/insulin bursts drive the cells in the body to become insulin resistant. This is how a couple of sugary snacks per day, particularly in combination with low fiber and low micronutrient meals, is a sure road to chronic hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and metabolic syndrome. Marcus is on the fast track to illness. It is important to notice that the combined effects of the sugar load in a meal or snack + the frequency of eating in combination, result in the height and duration of the insulin response. Consuming sugary or processed snacks every 4 to 6 hours, damages to our physiology and biochemistry. In the case of Marcus, we see how it can lead to insulin resistance.
Now let move on to consider the connection between insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. There is a huge overlap between heart disease and insulin resistance. In fact, "those with cardiovascular disease who are not diagnosed with insulin resistance are simply undiagnosed" (Dr. Joseph Craft). Heart disease is essentially a modified version of diabetes at a more advanced stage. Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, fatty liver, high blood pressure and gout are all connected by underlying metabolic syndrome as a precursor. The metabolism of sugar results in the production of inflammatory proteins (CRP) which is connected to heart disease risk. It raises insulin which directly raises our blood pressure. It results in the production of uric acid which blocks our own natural blood pressure lowering molecule (nitric oxide) which results in increased blood pressure. It results in the increased production of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides which are linked to heart disease. It triggers a major cascade of chronic metabolic damage to our body as a whole. Many inflammatory mediators such as TNF alpha, c-reactive protein, interferon gamma and others will be activated (in part by AGES). This state of internal commotion causes cellular damage, forcing your hormones to produce more cholesterol to repair it. All of this because of those 2 daily snacks!
Because of those 2 daily snacks, now we have chronic elevation of insulin AND LDL cholesterol in order to repair the ongoing damage caused by the stress of constantly metabolizing sugar. The chance of developing cardiovascular disease through glycation reactions and oxidative stress is highly accelerated under these circumstances. Overall, these 2 sugary snacks are accelerating the process of aging.
Oxidative stress occurs through the mitochondrial process of transforming oxygen and food into ATP. The expected byproducts of this natural biologic process are reactive oxygen species (ROS). Oxidative stress is fueled by the generation of excessive ROS from glucose autoxidation, and the non-enzymatic attachment of glucose molecules to circulating lipoproteins that result in the formation of the glycation of cholesterol and other lipids. A certain amount of oxidative stress, damage, and subsequent repair is a normal part of living. Think of it as the car exhaust which is a product of fuel combustion required to move your car. A small amount is expected and tolerated. Again, he problem again is when we over-stress the system with our lifestyle choices and environment. Oxidative stress plays an important role in the mechanisms promoting glycation of cholesterol and has been implicated as a key factor in the progression of all the same chronic diseases. High oxidative stress, more specifically, oxidative damage to cholesterol lipoproteins is increasingly thought to play a central mechanistic role.
Here's how it works. Our liver produces and ships out big fluffy, full sized cholesterol particles needed to fix cellular and tissue damage caused by the glycation and oxidation byproducts of food digestion, sugar metabolism and overall stress (physical and mental). These full sized circulating cholesterol particles are transporters and they circulate throughout the body's blood system, donating tiny pieces of themselves to our cells to repair damage. As a consequence of this repair process, these large cholesterol particles eventually become smaller and smaller.
After the repairing and fixing materials have been dropped off to the damaged cells, the leftover small circulating cholesterol particles need to be returned to the liver to be re-loaded with newly produced cholesterol molecules. This allows the transport and delivery cycle to continue. However, the problem arises when hazardous lifestyle habits create excessive chronic systemic glycation and oxidation. This inflammation has a number of consequences. 1) It causes tissue damage. 2.) Tissue damage requires more cholesterol production. 3.) Tissue damage requires cholesterol to remain in the circulation longer. 4.) These same conditions also cause damage to the circulating small cholesterol particles themselves. The liver will not take back small cholesterol particles once they have been damaged. They will no longer be taken up for recycling. These damaged particles therefor remain in the blood circulation where over time they accumulate and tend to stick to the vascular lining, ultimately leading to atherosclerosis.
So back to Marcus Aurelius and his 2 snacks. His glucose levels are high and cause glycation damage to plasma (serum) proteins and to his red blood cells which carry his oxygen. Both become stiff and unable to pass through the tiniest vessels in the heart and elsewhere. Blood circulations is impeded. With these stiff proteins and cells plus damaged and stiffened arteries, he has now created the perfect environment for a heart attack.
These are all major driving forces to the progression of cardiovascular disease. I could keep going on and on, but I must save something for my videos. Suffice it to say, too much sugar sets off a perfect metabolic storm!