Look and Feel Younger by Avoiding the Top Contributors to Aging, Part I

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December 17, 2003 | 33,745 views

[Part 1, Part 2]

By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Sarah Potts

In a general sense, premature aging means that outwardly the way you appear is older than it should be for your age, and inwardly the way you feel and the way your brain, bones and the rest of your body functions is below par to what it should be for your age. Your appearance is inextricably linked to your "inside" health, of course, as is how long and how well you live. Therefore, taking the necessary steps to avoid premature aging is a crucial goal.

While multiple factors can contribute to premature aging, none are so prevalent in the United States, Canada, Australia, and most of Europe than the over-consumption of grains and sugars. As detailed below, not only will avoiding this form of carbs and instead eating the right foods prevent premature aging but also no matter what your condition today, it will also actually help you look and feel younger than you currently do.

Insulin Levels

It is vital to understand what insulin actually is. Insulin is something all humans have, as without it we would go into hyperglycemic coma and die, but nearly all of us have insulin levels that are too high.

The pancreas releases insulin--produced by beta cells--after you eat carbohydrates. This causes a rise in blood sugar. Insulin ensures your cells receive some blood sugar necessary for life, and increases glycogen storage. However, it also drives your body to use more carbohydrate, and less fat, as fuel. And, insulin converts almost half of your dietary carbohydrate to fat for storage. In other words, when we eat too much carbohydrate, we''re essentially sending a hormonal message, via insulin, to the body (actually, to the adipose cells). The message: "Store fat."

Not only do increased insulin levels tell the body to store carbohydrates as fat, they also tell it not to release any stored fat. This makes it impossible for you to use your own stored body fat for energy. So the excess carbohydrates in your diet not only make you fat, they make sure you stay fat.

High levels of insulin can cause major damage to your body. The most recognized of these is diabetes. In addition, hypertension, obesity, high levels of cholesterol and other lipids, heart disease, kidney disease, female infertility and neurodegeneration are all causes of eating too many carbohydrates, resulting in high insulin levels.

If you want to use more fats for energy, the insulin response must be moderated. Diets high in refined sugars release more insulin thereby allowing less stored fat to be burned.

The #1 Way to Avoid Premature Aging: Avoid Sugars and Grains

If you look and/or feel older than you should, whether the symptoms are showing themselves in your skin, face, bones, energy, or mind, chances are that the excess sugars and grains in your diet are the primary culprit. We all need a certain amount of carbohydrates, of course, but we need the good carbohydrates that foods like vegetables provide.

In other words, the popular Atkins diet got it partly right--people are consuming too many carbs, but more particularly, they''re consuming too many of the carbs found in grains and sugars while most are not consuming enough of the healthy carbs found in vegetables.

Through the Western addiction to grains, sweets, soft drinks, and high-starch foods like potatoes, the modern diet virtually guarantees that not only will a majority of the population become overweight, but they will also look and feel much older than they should. That''s because any meal or snack high in the carbohydrates found in grains and sugars generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To adjust for this rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers the glucose.

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Unfortunately, the body is not designed to accommodate these unnaturally high levels of insulin spiked by grains and sugars. So not only does this excess insulin store calories from the carbs in the form of fat (which is why so many are overweight and obese these days), but the excess insulin also suppresses essential hormones and the immune system--all absolutely essential for avoiding premature aging.

Meanwhile, in addition to avoiding grains and sugars to avoid premature aging, what you should be eating instead also has everything to do with it. If you really want to look and feel younger, live longer and prevent disease, and optimize your weight while you are at it, the key to remember is this:

  1. Eating the right forms of foods--the right forms of carbohydrates, proteins and fats--is absolutely essential.
  2. Eating the right proportion of these carbohydrates, proteins and fats for your specific body biochemistry, or "nutritional type," is also absolutely essential.

Eat the Right Forms of Foods to Look and Feel Younger

There are healthy forms of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that make all the difference in the world to whether you will age prematurely or look and feel as young as you are supposed to (and prevent disease and live longer). You should not "reduce all carbs" in your diet, as some popular diets suggest, but instead reduce or completely eliminate the bad carbs like grains and sugars and instead eat the healthy carbs like vegetables--particularly vegetables that grow above ground (most root vegetables are high in starch and would best be limited).

Similarly, you should focus on eating healthy fats and proteins, like those found in naturally raised meats, toxin-free fish, and healthy oils like coconut oil.

To delve into all the carbs, fats and proteins you should avoid and those you should be consuming takes an entire book--and I have written that book, which I encourage you to consider if you really want to avoid premature aging--but on the topic of avoiding premature aging by eating the right foods, here are a few links you can explore right now:

Eat the Right Proportion of Carbs, Proteins and Fats for Your nutritional type

Just as important as eating the right forms of carbs, proteins and fats are eating the right proportion of them for your particular body biochemistry. For some this may be a new concept, but there is a reason most people fail on those one-size-fits-all diets: just as on the outside you are unique, on the inside you are unique as well. In other words, your body biochemistry, or metabolism, is distinct, and therefore you have distinct nutritional needs.

One of the most important steps you should take right now if you want to avoid premature aging (and optimize your weight and increase your energy) is to learn your nutritional type, and then start eating the right proportion of healthy carbs, proteins and fats for your type.

My book presenting my entire dietary program is a must-have resource if you do not know your nutritional type or the proportions of nutrients you should be consuming to ensure you look and feel younger. It provides a test and the means to help you determine your type, and a full understanding of how to find the proportions of foods that are ideal for you.

Beyond proportions, there are certain healthy foods that are ideal for one nutritional type that are not as ideal for other types. For instance, if you are a "Protein Type," there are six types of vegetables that you should definitely be eating to help you avoid premature aging, optimize weight and live longer.

To understand more on the essential concept of nutritional type, start by reading "Modify Your Diet so You Feel Terrific." Then learn your nutritional type and start eating the healthiest forms of foods that are ideal for your type--while avoiding grains and sugars--and you will be taking a monumental step toward avoiding premature aging. Again, for full detail on all of the above (and many delicious and nutritious recipes), read more about my book.

[Part 1, Part 2]