When you increase your blood sugar with a meal or snack rich in processed foods or very starchy carbohydrates, the sugar has to get out of your blood quickly. That’s insulin’s job – ushering insulin out of the blood stream and helping it find a place to go. However, as we’ve talked about before, insulin isn’t really effective at doing it’s job in many overweight people. Why? Because the chronic state of high blood sugar from constant carbohydrate consumption floods the body with insulin and we develop what’s called “insulin resistance”. When insulin is always hanging around, the tissues and cells that normally respond to it become immune. It’s kinda like how we get used to the brightness of the sun after being outside for a while. When you first step outside, the sun can sometimes be overwhelming. You squint, shield your eyes and look away. But, after a while, you’ve adjusted. It’s no big deal. You aren’t squinting and it doesn’t seem so bright. You’re used to it.
When insulin is always around due to chronically elevated blood sugar, your cells become immune to it. That is a problem for a number of reasons, but today we’re going to talk about what happens when insulin is no longer able to quickly remove that sugar from the blood and it just hangs around in the blood stream.
There’s a reason we need insulin to clear sugar from the blood ASAP. When it hangs around, it can become quite toxic. One of the things sugar does when left to linger is bind to proteins or fats that are naturally present in your blood. Not only does this render the protein/fat ineffective (and it can’t do what it’s in the blood to do) but it forms something called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGES). The acronym is really quite appropriate; these AGES age you. There’s absolutely no question that they accelerate the aging process.
AGEs cause destruction throughout your entire body. Through research, AGEs have been implicated in the development of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, neuropathy and much more. They damage your cells, which is the starting point for almost all disease. They can impair blood flood and have been linked to asthma, eye problems and systemic inflammation.
From a cosmetic perspective, AGEs seriously impair skin health. The body sees these AGEs as foreign bodies, triggering an inflammatory response. This can lead to both internal and topical inflammation. AGEs are naturally drawn to the collagen and elastin within your skin. Collagen and elastin are then no longer able to do their job effectively. The result? Fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s important to note that you can also increase your exposure to AGEs from smoking or eating foods that have been cooked at very high temperatures (grilled, fried, etc). We certainly can’t eliminate our exposure to AGEs – they are naturally formed within our bodies, but reducing their prevalence by managing our blood sugar is KEY. The simplest way to do that is by eliminating processed foods, sugars and wheat products.