Nutrition and premature cellular aging
Most of us accept at a certain point in our lives that aging is inevitable. We are born, go through puberty, gain the ability to produce offspring and continue to age until we reach an age (84 for women and 80 for men according to most updated studies) when our bodies cease to function. Aging is a normal process. Nevertheless, it is a major problem that concerns almost all people not only because of aesthetics, but also because it is associated with a lot of medical issues.
In some people, in fact, aging is accelerated due to many factors, one of which is diet. Our dietary choices affect our body in various ways and are related to the rate of aging of our cells. Do not forget that aging can be caused from the “inside” to “outside”. This means that harmful foods we consume are quite responsible for the extra years that are reflected on our face.
Consumption of sugar as a precursor of increased Glycosylation
The most characteristic eating habit of many people which is associated with the acceleration of cellular aging is the increased consumption of carbohydrates and sugars. Sugar and simple carbohydrates contribute to the premature aging of our cells, due to the fact that they play a key role in a mechanism of aging, glycosylation. When our blood sugar levels rise, even for a few hours, glycosylation increases to a later stage.
Glycosylation is defined as an important, highly-regulated mechanism of secondary protein processing. It serves a number of purposes in the human cells. For example many proteins are not stable unless they contain oligosaccharides. Is some other instances, proteins cannot fold correctly unless they are glycosylated.
There is however a type of glycosylation that is called non-enzymatic glycosylation or glycation. It is a spontaneous reaction that does not need an enzyme function and in which a sugar molecule (glucose or fructose) attaches itself on a protein. This transformation produces the Advanced Glycation end-products (AGEs).
These are non-functional and harmful molecules that are deposited in various organs, from the skin to the blood vessels, and can cause damage and inflammation to the tissues.
AGEs interact with collagen and elastin, the two proteins that help maintain skin elasticity, and gradually destroys them. The breakdown of collagen leads to the appearance of wrinkles, as well as to the hardening of blood vessels.
Furthermore, the action of AGEs inactivates natural antioxidant enzymes and results in a reduction in the body’s natural defense against free radicals. For this reason, uncontrolled glycosylation has been found to be highly associated with accelerated aging. It is worth noting that Glycosylation does not affect only older people, but it can occur at any age, as it depends directly on the amount of glucose in the blood. Young people can also have high blood glucose levels.
Sources of AGEs
Some of the foods we consume are basic sources of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). These include natural fruit juices, soft drinks, ready-made snacks, processed foods and artificial sweeteners. These foods contain increased amounts of sugar. Therefore, their excessive consumption contributes to the rise of blood glucose levels, with the consequent increase of glycosylation, which helps to accelerate the aging of our cells.
Also, the way of cooking plays an important role. Foods which are cooked at high temperatures facilitate the formation of AGEs, because heating or cooking sugars with proteins, without the presence of water, promotes the formation of AGEs. In fact, studies suggest that people with higher rates of cardiovascular complications tended to consume increased amounts of glycosylated products. For each increase in AGEs intake, each participant was 3.7 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
Foods that potentially accelerate aging
Salt is responsible for fluid retention in our body. As a result, it can cause dehydration, a condition that is inextricably linked to the aging of our skin. Dehydration is also caused by lack of water. The human body, however, needs to be adequately hydrated in order to maintain the elasticity of its skin. For these reasons, it is recommended to reduce the intake of salt in our daily diet and increase water consumption, in order to stay hydrated and slow down, as much as possible, the appearance of aging.
Furthermore, the drinks we consume can potentially speed up the aging process, as researchers claim. Alcohol consumption is associated with the prevalence of chronic inflammation in the body, which in the long run has a negative effect on our tissues and vital organs and contributes to premature cellular aging.
The contribution of Anti-Aging Medicine in the reversal of cellular aging
It is important to understand that it is necessary to avoid the formation of AGEs, at the nutritional level, in order to slow down the aging process and reduce the risk of various diseases. It is therefore advisable to avoid consuming excess sugars and carbohydrates and to adopt a diet rich in micro-and macronutrients, which provides an arsenal of nutrients and then fully hydrate our body and promote the health of our cells.
The key to a successful outcome lies in the medical guidance and personalized diet that will be suggested to us. Therapeutic (Molecular) Nutrition is a special nutritional platform, based on the simple fact that all proposed nutritional plans promote a solid foundation for the creation of healthy cells, with accompanying results in achieving optimal health of the organism and consequently in the possibility of reversing cellular aging.
Nowadays, Specialized diagnostic tests, at a molecular level, exist which assess with absolute accuracy the oxidation of our body by free radicals, chronic inflammation, glycosylation, deficiencies of micronutrients, vitamins, trace elements, enzymes and minerals, the hormonal imbalances and the toxic load of the cells.
Based on the diagnostic findings, the appropriate Anti-Aging Therapeutic protocols are formulated, which aim at preventing the creation of damage, by strengthening the body with all the necessary biochemical fuels (proteins, enzymes) that it needs in order to function properly. Of course, even if lesions occur, Anti-Aging Medicine can treat them effectively by healing the cell, and then it can reverse, at least in part, the process of cell aging.
Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive, Anti-ageing and Restorative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).
- Arnaud-Battandier F, Malvy D, Jeandel C, et al. Use of oral supplements in malnourished elderly patients living in the community: a pharmaco-economic study. Clin Nutr. 2004;23:1096–103.
- Avenell A, Handoll HH. A systematic review of protein and energy supplementation for hip fracture aftercare in older people. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003;57:895–903.
- Bartali B, Salvini S, Turrini A, et al. Age and disability affect dietary intake. J Nutr. 2003;133:2868–73.
- Chandra RK. Nutrition and the immune system from birth to old age. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56(Suppl 3):S73–6.
- Coombs JB, Barrocas A, White JV. Nutrition care of older adults with chronic disease: attitudes and practices of physicians and patients. South Med J. 2004;97:560–5.
- Dryden G, Ritchie CS, Finucane TE, et al. Nutrition in the elderly. Clinical Nutrition Scientific Update. A report based on presentations at Nutrition Week; 24–27 Feb 2002; San Diego, CA, USA. 2002.
- Ciardullo AV, Brunetti M, Daghio MM, et al. Characteristics of type 2 diabetic patients cared for by general practitioners either with medical nutrition therapy alone or with hypoglycaemic drugs. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2004;17:120–3.
- Compher C, Kim JN, Bader JG. Nutritional requirements of an aging population with emphasis on subacute care patients. AACN Clin Issues. 1998;9:441–50.