Are you lagging behind your same-age friends in the wrinkled-brow, saggy-neck and droopy-arm departments? Never fear. Just grab a cheeseburger and a soda or two and there's a good chance you'll soon catch up.
Phosphates Accelerate Aging
Food companies these days add a lot of phosphates to soda and other processed foods—things like meat, cheese and bakery products—and now researchers have found evidence that high levels of phosphates accelerate signs of aging.
Phosphates May Contribute to Chronic Diseases
More specifically, high phosphate levels can induce severe muscle and skin atrophy. Worse, they may also "increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification," according to a 2010 research study published in the FASEB Journal--the acronym stands for Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology—and reported in Science Daily.
"Soda is the caffeine delivery vehicle of choice for millions of people worldwide, but comes with phosphorous as a passenger," says Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. "This research suggests that our phosphorous balance influences the aging process, so don't tip it."
Phospates Now Used More Frequently in Food
Food additives containing phosphates have been around for a long time, but the frequency with which they are used, the number of processed foods that contain them, and the amounts we unknowingly consume have grown significantly over the past two decades.
In an earlier study, published in 2008, which showed that inorganic phosphates might speed the growth of lung cancer tumors and also contribute to the development of such tumors, scientists concluded that . . . "while a moderate level of phosphate plays an essential role in living organisms, the rapidly increasing use of phosphates as a food additive has resulted in significantly higher levels in average daily diets. Phosphates are added to many food products to increase water retention and improve food texture.
"In the 1990s, phosphorous-containing food additives contributed an estimated 470 mg per day to the average daily adult diet. However, phosphates are currently being added much more frequently to a large number of processed foods, including meats, cheeses, beverages, and bakery products. As a result, depending on individual food choices, phosphorous intake could be increased by as much as 1000 mg per day."
Lower Phosphate Intake for Better Health and Longer Life
So there you have it. Phosphates make processed foods look better, but in large quantities they could do just the opposite for you, making you look and feel old before your time.
Take a tip from one of the researchers involved in the recent study: "Humans need a healthy diet and keeping the balance of phosphate in the diet may be important for a healthy life and longevity," says M. Shawkat Razzaque, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Medicine, Infection and Immunity at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. "Avoid phosphate toxicity and enjoy a healthy life."