Your skin doesn’t age by accident or just because time passes. It loses tone and texture when the order, energy, physiological and biological integrity of your body’s living matrix becomes undermined. Many factors can cause this to happen. But none is more insidious or sinister than chronic high levels of blood sugar and insulin which now threaten the majority of the population of the developed world. Stop this from happening to your own body, and you can not only slow skin aging. You can reverse its signs. You will also help yourself avoid degenerative illnesses and prevent weight gain.
WHISPERS FROM THE DEAD
Sugar destroys your skin. And I don’t just mean the white stuff that sits in bowls. Most of the foods we eat these days—from pasta and bread to packaged cereals and bagels—within a few minutes of entering the body flood the bloodstream with glucose. The reasons for this are simple and genetic. Yet for almost four generations, they have continued to elude most scientists, nutritionists, government bodies such as the FDA, and doctors.
Grain-based foods and sugary foods are a recent invention. For over a million years of evolution, the human body never encountered them. Because genetic adaptation is a slow process—it can take one hundred thousand years for a significant alteration in even one gene to take place—our bodies do not have the ability to deal with sugars and starches in quantity for long periods. Yet such foods form the majority of stuff that people buy and eat. Our packaged convenience foods are based on them. Most are also riddled with junk fats and chemicals. These days, even smoked salmon and luncheon meats have sugars added to them. These manufactured products make up the largest portion of most people’s diets. When the body is forced to handle them (and most governments are still trying to sell us the false notion that a high-carb diet is good for health), it rebels.
What form this insurrection takes depends on our genetic vulnerabilities. For some, it can show up as adult onset Type II diabetes. Others get fat and experience energy swings, high blood pressure, distorted cholesterol issues, and/or chronic fatigue. When it comes to skin, these carbs and sugar itself fabricate wrinkles, sags, puffy faces and lackluster complexions. This produces a situation where, even when you know all of this, you can find yourself with so little energy that you wonder if you are able to do anything about it.
THE WRINKLE MONSTER
When it comes to carbs and sugars, the wrinkle monster is two faced. To escape his insidious attacks, you need to understand and conquer both. First there is the all-encompassing glucose-insulin battle you need to win, probably after years of living and eating the way that, for the past 60 years, we have been urged to do by the powers-that-be. The monster’s second face focuses on the way excess glucose damages the body’s proteins. It attacks skin cells and collagen fibers leading to what are known as advanced glycosylation end products or AGEs. These nasties act like terrorists, wreaking havoc within your living matrix. AGEs cause the skin’s collagen proteins to cross-link, producing wrinkles, sags and bags on your face.
Defeat the first face of the wrinkle monster and the second loses a lot of its power. Your skin will respond by literally rejuvenating itself. So will your whole body, and in medically measurable ways too.
ALL POWERFUL HORMONE
Insulin is the most important hormone in determining how quickly or slowly your body ages. This was one of the most important discoveries made during the past half-century. It began with the work of a brilliant American endocrinologist named Gerald Reaven. In the 1980s, Reaven identified a collection of abnormalities—high blood pressure, distorted cholesterol levels, and others which physicians commonly worry about, as they are viewed as biomarkers of illness and aging. These abnormalities, which generally occur together, have now reached epidemic proportions. They are major triggers in the development of degenerative diseases from heart disease and diabetes to including the dreaded skin-wrinkling and rapid aging. Professor Reaven named this collection of abnormalities Syndrome X—insulin resistance syndrome—which is now more widely known as Metabolic Syndrome.
Although this condition often remains hidden to the person who falls prey to it, Metabolic Syndrome is a life-threatening, rapidly aging, perversion of body metabolism which we bring on ourselves—in small part by a sedentary lifestyle, but, most important of all, by having lived for decades on a carbohydrate and sugar-intensive diet. What is scary is that 95 percent of the population of English speaking countries still do.
In your body, insulin and sugar are antagonists. In other words, they are meant to balance each other metabolically. All carbohydrate foods—from muffins to breads, cereals and packaged convenience foods—turn into glucose when you eat them. Insulin has two jobs to perform: First, when glucose from these foods enters the bloodstream, it is supposed to control blood sugar levels. Second, it is meant to see that glucose gets turned into the energy your body needs for health.
In a healthy body, where blood sugar is balanced and in control, you have a good supply of ongoing energy. You don’t suffer from energy or mood swings during the day or at certain times of the month. It is insulin secreted from the pancreas which manages this. It responds to the level of glucose present in the blood from moment to moment. The more glucose there is, the more insulin it secretes to balance it. The less glucose present, the less insulin gets shunted into your blood.
MASTER OF ENERGY
Insulin’s second job is equally important. It has to do with getting all this circulating sugar into your body’s cells, where little energy factories there known as mitochondria can turn it into ATP—the currency your body uses to run metabolic processes, to make hormones, to repair damage to DNA and keep the body functioning well. The way it does this is interesting. On the surface of each cell there are receptor sites specifically for insulin. They are like locks that only the “key”, namely insulin, can open, so that this important pancreatic hormone can carry out its second major task: Escorting glucose inside the cell so its mitochondria can get on with their energy-producing.
It’s a great system. But it was never designed to handle the onslaught of carbs and sugar which, for three or four generations, we’ve been forcing it to handle. After years of breakfast cereals and toast, sugary sweets and treats, the pancreas is forced to produce so much insulin in an attempt to limit high levels of sugar in the blood that it becomes trigger-happy. Day after day, month after month, it secretes so much of the hormone. This continually forces blood sugar to drop too low, which causes those awful 11 AM and 3 PM blues. We get hungry, eat more carbs—trying to get back our energy—and wonder why we suffer. The pancreas can also grow weary of the task after a while and give out.
HERE’S WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
When high levels of unused glucose circulate in your body, they seriously disrupt the functions of the living matrix and cause rapid aging of skin and the whole body. For when glucose cannot be turned into energy in your body, it poisons it.
- Habitual eating of high-carb meals and snacks shunts massive doses of glucose into your bloodstream.
- In an effort to maintain balance, the pancreas produces more insulin, keeping insulin levels too high for too long.
- This creates insulin resistance, interfering with your body’s ability to turn glucose into energy. You feel fatigued, may gain weight easily, become prone to cellulite and develop the medical abnormalities associated with Metabolic Syndrome.
- This also stimulates your liver to produce more triglycerides and pour them into your bloodstream.
- All this can produce mood swings and hormonal distortions.
- This distorts cholesterol levels and balance, increasing your risk of heart disease.
- It also bombards fat cells with extra calories they need to find a place for. If you are genetically prone to weight gain, you not only grow fat. You find it more and more difficult to shed weight.
- This in turn creates yet more insulin resistance, and can even start destroying the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas.
- The energy, chemistry and physiology of the living matrix become disrupted. Cells no longer receive clear communications in this polluted medium. They become unable to effectively do the jobs they are meant to do.
- Skin shows the effects of all of this. It loses radiance, thins, sags, wrinkles and ages rapidly. Blotches appear. Spots, too, if you are genetically prone to them. You start to look tired, old beyond your years and, before long, you start to feel as bad as you look.
Sorry for this long list of bad news. But it is important that you get a handle on how all this happens. The good news is you can actually reverse all of this by altering the kinds of foods you eat.
DO WE NEED CARBS?
A diet high in cereals, grains and sugars (the diet of 90% of the Western world) is the fastest way to ruin skin, get ill, age rapidly and get fat. Grains and sugars can undermine your immune system and make you susceptible not just to colds, but to degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and coronary heart disease. Now, this is revolutionary stuff—as yet it’s known only to an elite few.
On learning all of the above, the question most often asked is this: “Is a diet that is mostly or completely lacking in cereal-based, grain-based, sugar-based carbohydrates a healthy way of eating?” It’s little wonder that most of us don’t know this. For more than half a century, we’ve been told that we need lots of carbs for health and energy. WE DO NOT!
Eating a diet that is low in convenience foods and grain-based, sugar-based, cereal-based carbohydrates but rich in low-sugar fruits and green vegetables, plus good quality proteins and good fats—coconut oil, butter from grass-fed cows and extra-virgin olive oil—ensures that you are never going to have a shortage of fuel for your body, nervous system or brain. You will not have to wrestle with insulin resistance, food cravings, blood-sugar-related health problems, weight gain or a poorly functioning immune system. What such a way of eating can do to regenerate and rejuvenate skin and slow skin wrinkling, sagging and spotting is little short of fabulous—no matter what your age.