By Dean L. Jones

Pharrell Williams’ Happy song is a global phenomenon.  The concept of happy feelings has been studied for a long time, as science reveals that happy people live longer by 35% over those considered more melancholy.  Accordingly, happiness and contentment is proven to help increase a person’s health and longevity.  Folks living 100 years (centenarians) or more are usually more happy and optimistic than those who do not live as long.  Even positive thoughts and attitudes seem to somehow do things in our body that strengthen the immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain, and provide stress relief.  Moreover, happiness can even alter our genes!

I have always been intrigued to learn how part of our longevity may depend on the DNA that we are born with, but that is not the end game where an even larger part depends on something scientifically labeled epigenetics.  Epigenetic is something in which we have more control, such as our personal thoughts, feelings, emotions, and diet.  Lifestyle factors exert epigenetic influences every minute of the day, thereby playing a central role in aging and disease.

While, exercising, sleeping and eating right are the essentials to longevity, there are four important nutrients that have a direct bearing on aging, and our brains are suffering from not getting enough Vitamin D, DHA, Folate, and Magnesium.  Vitamin D has an extremely large inventory of health benefits, including helping our brain combat the damage from free radicals, which helps prevent cognitive decline.

Here is where the link between eating too much processed sugar and aging comes in, as the signs of Vitamin D deficiency can range from bone pain and muscle weakness to depression and weakened immune system, all of which can be brought on by eating too much processed sugar.  The longer-term deficiency of Vitamin D can result in obesity, high blood pressure, psoriasis, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Chronic inflammation is a key factor in many degenerative diseases, including dementia, and processed sugar is a major culprit that causes inflammation that can lead to a variety of diseases.  This is why DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), an omega-3 fat, plays a role in keeping our cell membranes healthy, flexible, and resistant to oxidative stress, which decreases inflammation.

Foods with Folate (Vitamin B9) help prevent depression, seizure disorders, brain atrophy, and other neurological problems.  Folate deficiencies correlate with impaired memory, slowed mental processing and overall cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly.

Processed sugar leaches vitamins and minerals from the body, including magnesium that helps in the body’s detoxification processes.  A person dealing with chronic headaches, body odor, constipation, insomnia, or fatigue is likely lacking in magnesium.  It is important to stay away from ingesting processed sugars, because for every molecule of sugar it requires 54 molecules of magnesium to process it.  Be Happy,stay SugarAlert!

Dean Jones, Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributes his view on health attributes derived from processed foodstuff items.