I’m more and more surprised when I learn how old someone is. They seem to either look really, really good for their age or well, they look older than their years. Not that there is an ideal look for any age but there are just things you wouldn’t expect of someone in their 40s, 50s and even 60s.
It’s the old story of two friends who are exactly the same age. One looks younger, more vibrant and healthy. The other shows the wrinkles, graying hair and slower spring in their step. How is it they are the same age? What makes one person age faster than the other?
Of course the answer is a multitude of things that contribute to the effects of aging including, lifestyle, nutrition, stress imprint, and more. However, in a time when we are more advanced than any prior generation, why does there persist to be a significant difference in how we are aging? Most scary though, is why is our average lifespan decreasing for the first time in over 100 years? (source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-life-expectancy-in-the-us-is-falling-202210202835)
What the age decline doesn’t tell us
While we can gauge age through the subtle and non-subtle physical signs there is more to the aging story going on. I believe the differences in how well and fast we age is based primarily on our sugar consumption. No other ingredient or food we eat has the impact to our body, mind or spirit than sugar.
Sugar accelerates not only our energy temporarily but long term high use of it can speed up aging. The body can only convert so much of sugar to energy before storing it as glucose. After a while it gets stored in the adipose cells (fat cells) and impacts our cell performance, including metabolism.
Over time our liver begins to develop darker spots from sugar consumption. Age spots, also known
as liver spots, often found when we begin to age start to appear on the skin because our skin reflects what is happening our digestive system and age spots are a direct reflection of what is appearing on our liver! It is truly the old saying that sooner or later, your bad diet is going to catch up to you.
I like to refer to the signs we see for how well someone is aging as their sugar age because most of the signs are a direct result of our sugar consumption. Sugar has been linked to not only age spots but dementia, inflammation and many other golden year symptoms and diseases. The quality of our golden years is directly tied to our lifetime relationship with sugar as a result. So it only makes since why we would see advanced signs of aging and a decline in average lifespan.
The trouble is none of the reports, statistics or even your medical doctor are talking about this over consumption of sugar. This single ingredient is found in so many of our foods today and manufacturers continue to give it new aliases to disguise its presence. On top of enjoying sugar where we should enjoy it, in birthday cakes for example, it is rampant in our daily diet without even trying to celebrate anything! Yet, very few experts in our health care system are talking about the devastating effect sugar is having on our lifespan or aging process.
Reducing sugar isn’t easy
To cut down on sugar in your diet is not an easy feat. For one thing, where do you draw the line? Is it you only eat natural sugar from fruit? Do you cut all processed foods all together? Can you even afford to cut sugar from your diet because given the price of food many of us are having to turn to highly processed foods just to keep our families fed these days!
Where is the path to curbing sugar so we reduce our risk of its impact across our health?
What I advise clients on and have applied to my own family is what I call the “sanity of balance.” Going cold turkey and forever giving up sugar isn’t realistic. So somewhere between the extremes of cold and forever and too much sugar is the ideal place for you individually and for your family to peacefully and healthfully live with sugar. Each of us is different so the goal is not to just get to the middle but to find that place that creates balance in your own body. That level will be different than other members of your family too.
Our health care should be personalized to the individual level. I believe this is where typical diets and our western medical system fail us time and again. Not everyone is going to fit into the rigid parameters of what defines things or what heals the body. It is sad to know that our medical doctors can lose their professional license for deviating from the Physicians Desk Reference and direction from the Department of Health Services (DHS). Therefore, the ultimate way to be healthy is to understand what your individual body needs to thrive.
What I teach my clients wanting to improve their relationship with sugar, is to first improve the relationship within themselves. What this means is deeply understanding where you are drawn to sugar, where it shows up in your diet, and how you consume it. From there understand what it makes you feel when you eat it, why and what is going on during those times. Tracking these activities on a mind, body and spirit level is very insightful as it will show you exactly where and how much sugar you are eating every day.
From there we look to build improvements in our diet where sugar is dominating. If it is artificial sweetener we work to eliminate due to the multiple negative side effects this ingredient contains to our health. Additionally, we educate on natural sugar replacements. Just because you eat a natural sugar, like honey, monk fruit or something else doesn’t mean you can swap one for one processed sugar for natural. There is still a balance needed when it comes to all forms and sources of sugar.
Swapping a natural sugar for processed or artificial sugar is just as concerning. We cannot just do a 1 for 1 swap with natural and think our health risk decreases. – Amy Kramer, Dragonspit Apothecary
Developing an improved relationship sugar takes time and lots of trial and error. There are some wonderful general guidelines to help but for true healing from the binds of sugar we have requires us to individualize the approach to make them long lasting.
Where healing from sugar begins
Where many of us struggle with balancing sugar in our life is in thinking it has to be an all or nothing approach. We can be challenged making meaningful smaller steps that are progress because we are used to having it all done immediately. Many of us have lost the patience for the slow, steady beautiful walk that creating health brings to us. Instead we overwhelm ourselves and particularly our body which causes resentment within us. Instead I caution people on this risk and work with them to build a map for how we will gauge progress and focus on more incremental milestones.
One of the great healing effects from detoxing from sugar is a decrease in the body’s inflammation. Many clients who start to see less puffiness, aches, pains and energy lulls from sugar detoxing allows them to rebuild how sugar fits into their life better. A little relief goes a long way to helping us improve on building healthier habits and boundaries with sugar.
From there we work to retrain our brain from scolding us. For example, rather than declaring all sugar bad and then in 6 weeks you have your birthday cake makes creates chaos. Real life and our health journey are not in alignment so it creates conflict. We feel bad if we “cheat” and eat birthday cake. There is no cheating when it comes to your health journey and there is a place for cake. Instead of chaos and conflict we look to things we can do on the average day that don’t add stress and that support our health journey goals. We also plan in the special things. It isn’t always perfect but it is kinder to ourselves.
I really believe when we create the setting for us to be authentic between the mind and body connection we learn to listen to what our body actually says. The mind is no longer trying to take control because it sees the body not retaining the desired weight. In doing so we create a healthy space to live with sugar and freedom to enjoy it without guilt.
Reducing your sugar age
Each of us will age, sooner or later but it becomes a matter of the quality of life in our golden years. Where we can retain being active, enjoying our days and living our best life for as long as possible. I firmly believe we can change the outcome so many elderly experience with limitations by changing our relationship with sugar.
It doesn’t and shouldn’t be a life without sweetness but like all things there needs to be a respectful balance that creates and supports health and well-being. A beautiful body without the link between our mind and emotions is just a body. Whereas a whole person living in alignment and at peace with themself is a life we can all aspire to achieving and enjoy to the fullest.
To change the dynamic of how fast we age and the implications of aging, it is never too late to start. As humans who need food to live, it is our duty to demand better of food manufacturers but also our responsibility to ourselves and our family for what food we purchase.
It is important to understand a life without sugar, well it just wouldn’t be as sweet not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. Sugar has a role in our life but currently we are using it to our demise rather than to our benefit. Changing that not only improve how we age but how quickly so we can look forward to golden years of a fun active nature.
To work with me, book time at dragonspitapothecary.com