October 31, 2011
I had a frightening experience the other day. I was with my 96-and-a-half-year-old grandmother at Target, shopping for a ceramic container for her orchid, when we rounded the corner and couldn’t believe what we saw—the memory still haunts me—a huge aisle fully stuffed with any kind of Halloween candy imaginable! Holy Boo!!! It was scary for me to see sooo much sugar (not to mention saturated fat), on the shelves. My grandmother, on the other hand, was excited to see her favorite candy bar, wrapped in bite-size servings. So, we bought some Twix. My grandmother does have a sweet tooth, but in her defense, she never overindulges (a few bites is enough).
When it comes to aging well, there’s good reason to avoid loading up on sugar. One of the ways excess sugar (glucose) in your blood ages you is through a biochemical process called glycosylation. This is when glucose that is not absorbed by your cells, stays in the blood and attaches to protein molecules, altering them so they cannot function properly. This in turn, causes oxidation and inflammation in your body, which can lead to impaired vision, diabetes, arthritis, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
One of the best ways to reduce glycosylation in your body is to limit the amount of sugar you eat (and be sure to exercise regularly). Eat no more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar a day. (This may seem like a lot to you, but it is considered a moderate intake.)
Added sugar means sugar not found naturally in foods (like sucrose/table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, honey, etc.) You can calculate how much sugar is added to foods by looking at the food label and taking the total grams of sugar and dividing this number by 4 (a teaspoon of sugar has 4 grams of carbohydrate). Start doing this and you will be amazed and maybe even haunted by how much sugar is added to packaged foods.
P. S. Here’s a trick for this Halloween…Don’t forget my grandma’s rule—a few bites of sweet is enough!