May 24, 2010

CANADA: Phosphates may cause premature aging

TORONTO, Ontario / The Toronto Sun / Life / Health & Fitness / May 24, 2010

By Dr. Richard Beliveau, QMI Agency

Accelerated aging and premature death are associated with the high consumption of phosphates, according to a recent study.

Phosphate — an element essential for all forms of terrestrial life — is also an additive used in a wide range of products including soft drinks.

It's formed through the combination of phosphorus and oxygen, this ion plays a major role in the structure of all cellular components (DNA, ARN, proteins and lipids). It is also essential to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the type of energy used by cells to carry out their functions.

Phosphate also plays a crucial role in bone density thanks to its link with the calcium found in bone.

The importance of phosphate is underlined by the existence of several regulatory systems that control the level of this element in the body, notably one involving the kidneys, which prevents too much phosphate from being expelled from the body in urine. This system allows for about 95% of the phosphate filtered by the kidneys to be saved.


Many foods contain substantial quantities of phosphorus in the form of phosphate (milk products, meats, whole grains, etc.). However, in addition to these quantities, the food industry frequently uses phosphate-based additives to improve food preservation or to give items a particular taste. One of the best-known examples is the phosphoric acid found in soft drinks, which gives these beverages a high acidity (a pH of about two, which is similar to the acidity of a lemon).

The addition of phosphate to various foods is far from negligible: while the recommended daily phosphorus intake is 750 mg, people that consume some of the foods with these additives can absorb an extra 1,000 mg of phosphate.

The consequences of too much phosphate can be harmful as it can cause a hormonal message to force the release of calcium from bones in order to neutralize the elevated phosphate levels. This calcium loss can, in the long run, render bones more fragile and increase the risk of osteoporosis.


Using animals genetically predisposed to developing hyperphosphatemia (an increase in phosphate levels in the blood) as examples, researchers from Harvard University recently found a link between elevated phosphate levels and aging. They observed that these animals showed atherosclerosis, loss of muscle mass and atrophy of organs and died much earlier than normal animals.

The reduction of life expectancy is due to excess phosphates as the re-establishment of a normal phosphate using genetic engineering would correct the situation and allowed the animals to live normally.

However, even in this case, the addition of high levels of phosphates to food caused the same signs of premature aging, showing once again the close link between an excess of phosphate the decline of physiological functions.

Despite their essential role, these observations suggest that a surplus of phosphates may be toxic to the body and accelerate degeneration. Reducing consumption of processed foods, especially junk food such as soft drinks, is the best way to avoid absorbing too much of this element. [rc]


Vichyssoise with Mushroom, Asparagus and Toasted Almond

Toast the almonds without oil in a pan. Watch them closely and mix regularly to ensure uniform cooking.
Drizzle of olive oil

3 Tbsp. (45 ml) butter
2/3 cup (150 ml)leek whites, in large chunks
1/2 cup (125 ml) celery, in large chunks
1/2 Spanish onion, in large chunks
2 cups (500 ml) oyster mushrooms, in large chunks
7 cups (1.75 L)beef broth
1/2 lb (250 g) potatoes
1/2 lb (250 g) asparagus
3/4 cup (175 ml) 35% cream
1/3 cup (75 ml) grilled slivered almonds
Salt and ground pepper

Heat oil in a large pan and melt the butter. Gently cook the leeks, celery, onions and mushrooms, avoid browning them.

Add the broth, potatoes and asparagus. Cook for about 30 minutes over medium heat.

Use hand mixer to blend.

Add cream, cover and let cool for at least an hour in the fridge. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with almonds before serving. Makes 8 portions.

Source: Jean-Pierre Cloutier, chef and owner, Cafe-restaurant du Musée in Quebec City

Copyright © 2010 Toronto Sun

Jean-Pierre Cloutier and his associate  Mychelle Tremblay spend much time checking  their ingredients - for colour and for the desired texture.

Photo by courtesy: Robert Mailloux, La Presse