Limiting carbohydrate intake as part of the best prediabetes and type 2 diabetes diet plan does more than allow for healthy blood sugar readings, it also prevents the formation of damaging sugar byproducts – known as Advanced Glycation End Products – that impact your health in ways we are just now starting learn about.
Remember when you were a child and you touched a lollipop? Remember how sticky your fingers became? Well, it turns out sugar is also “sticky” on the inside. High levels of glucose sugar molecules traveling through your blood stream have a way of attaching themselves to your body’s proteins, fat, and nucleic acid molecules causing them to become damaged. These damaged molecules are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). I have posted about AGEs and their role in diabetes complications.
AGEs have been implicated in a number of diabetes complications including “hardening of the arteries” known medically as atherosclerosis. AGEs are formed when a sugar molecule in your blood attaches itself to a protein, lipid (“fat”), or nucleic acid molecule. This affects the structure of these molecules, and therefore their ability to function in the way they were intended. Nucleic acids are part of your DNA…do you think that’s important?
AGEs have also been implicated in the aging process including the decreased circulation to the feet and legs that often comes about as we get older. AGEs can affect certain cells in the body, such as the endothelial cells that line your blood vessels, and they have been implicated as a potential contributing factor for the development of blood vessel damage that can set off the narrowing process leading to decreased blood flow. As a podiatrist and foot surgeon, this is something that I am acutely aware of on a daily basis.
This is currently an active and expanding area of study. Through ongoing AGE research I believe we are going to gain a new perspective as to why sugar can be so harmful to human health.
It’s one thing to understand why sugar is so harmful by thinking about abstract metabolic biochemical pathways, but it is quite another to understand that sugar causes physical changes that can actually be seen when “looking” at these molecules.