The old adage you are what you eat couldn’t ring truer when it comes to your skin. Here’s why too much sugar can make you look older.
Sugar is the new smoking, with scientists warning of the links between high blood sugar and a range of health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. New studies also shows that sugar can play a huge role in ageing our skin. Health and beauty guru, Leslie Kenton, refers to the sweet stuff as “the wrinkle monster” because of its ability to make our skin look flaccid, lined, and dull. If you’ve ever wondered how exactly sugar debilitates the skin’s building blocks, just read on!
The Sugar Invasion
A diet high in sugar doesn’t mean one that necessarily involves consuming copious amounts of candy and dessert. Rather, any meal that is high in the wrong kinds of carbs (including refined carbs, baked goods, white pasta and rice) causes glucose levels in the blood to spike.
The pancreas then produces insulin, to attempt to maintain equilibrium. When there is too much insulin in the body, for too long, a phenomenon called insulin resistance arises, in which your body loses its ability to convert sugar into energy. Not only do you feel lethargic when you consume too much sugar; you also tend to develop cellulite. Too much insulin forces the liver to produce triglycerides, which floods into your blood stream. These fats convert into HDL cholesterol, which is one of the major causes of heart disease. The process blasts fat cells with excess calories that cause weight gain. Eventually, the pancreas function can be compromised.
Within this complex scenario, it is only logical that your skin should suffer too. Skin cells are unable to function optimally in the midst of such a heavy toxic build-up. The results include sagging, wrinkling, thinning of skin and lost radiance. If you are prone to acne, your face can also break out in pimples.
When there is too much glucose in the blood, the glucose finds long protein chains to bind to, causing the formation of AGEs (Advanced Glycosylation End-products). The latter interferes with the cell function, and stimulates the production of free radicals. Glucose binds to collagen, which causes wrinkling and sagging.
As our skin begins to look worse and age, our self-esteem is affected. It is quite amazing to think that the first step to start feeling better, is simply to cut out refined sugar products and to stick to organic, low-GI fruits and vegetables, and good sources of protein.
There’s a Right and a Wrong Way to Fake it
Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharine, as they have been noted to have a host of health problems. Some people swear by Xylitol, a plant-based product that has the same appearance and sweetness levels as sugar. Xylitol can therefore be uses as a sugar substitute in most recipes, at a ratio of 1:1. Some consumers shun Xylitol, since when consumed in large amounts it can cause bloating and digestive discomfort; others do not experience these side effects so you may want to start with small amounts.
Health buffs tend to prefer Stevia, which comprises a unique set of compounds and antioxidants that make it a great choice for the whole family. Make sure you purchase the real thing, though, and not stevia extract.
Text by: Helen Soames