Anti-aging Nutrition – Is There Really Such A Thing?

The onset of aging starts very early. Its progression depends on many factors like sun exposure, smoking and heredity, but it seems that there is one other little-known factor called glycation that plays an important role in skin aging. In fact, according to a study in the “British Journal of Dermatology”, glycation may be responsible for 50% of intrinsic skin aging.

Another study published in the journalAge” also showed that the consumption of large amounts of sugar over the years can lead to premature skin aging. In this Dutch study, the researchers divided 569 participants into three groups according to whether they had low, medium or high glucose concentration in their blood after a meal. A group of volunteers was asked to assess the age of the participants. The finding was that high blood sugar levels made people look older.

Glycation is caused by a chemical reaction between glucose, which occurs naturally in the body and the fibers of the skin (collagen and elastin), which causes a change in their structure. The new molecules that are created by this process are given the name AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products). AGEs form molecular bonds and damage the skin, by binding to the proteins and the supportive tissue of collagen and elastin, which is responsible for the firmness and the elasticity of the skin.

What is more, AGEs inactivate the body’s enzymes and antioxidants and reduce our natural defenses, while altering the DNA of the cells by modifying cellular functions. The higher the consumption of foods of high glycemic index, the more AGEs get produced. Today, scientists believe that the overconsumption of sugar and other simple carbohydrates that cause the phenomenon of glycation is one of the main intrinsic aging mechanisms.

The good news is that glycation can be prevented and diet plays a central role. An important element of anti-aging nutrition is to maintain glucose levels at low levels and avoid the peaks in blood glucose that occur after consuming large amounts of simple sugars.

Let’s see a few anti-aging nutrition tips:

Avoid sugar

Keep in mind that it may not be enough to avoid adding sugar to coffee or stay away from sweets. Sugar is contained in too many packaged products that may be even considered to be healthy, such as breakfast cereals or cereal bars.

Eat wholegrain bread and pasta

If you have to choose between eating white bread or wholegrain bread, always eat the second. If consumed in moderation, it will raise glucose levels more gradually than white bread.

Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids

These fats can improves skin hydration, texture and elasticity. Try to eat fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, as well as seeds and nuts at least 2 times a week.

Consume more spices and herbs

Certain spices and herbs may be able to inhibit the inflammation and tissue damage caused by high blood sugar levels. Scientists from the University of Georgia, examined the potential of spices and herbs to prevent the creation of the harmful compounds AGEs through laboratory experiments. They analyzed 24 common herbs and spices and they found that there is a direct correlation between the phenol content of spices and their ability to block AGEs. The following spices and herbs are among the most powerful in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties: cloves, cinnamon, sage, estragon, rosemary and black pepper.

Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and improves the sensitivity of cells to insulin. The phenol content of cinnamon is 18% of its dry weight, sage and oregano have a phenolic content of 8% and 6% of their dry weight, respectively and the phenol levels of cloves are 30%. The addition of spices and herbs in your meals can often double or even triple the “pharmaceutical” power of a meal, without adding any calories.

To summarize, a diet low in simple carbohydrates may indeed delay the signs of aging and improve the appearance of the skin. And let's not forget that such a diet is also recommended for preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and has therefore multiple other benefits, apart from slowing down the aging process.