You know that sugar adds inches to your waist, exacerbates the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, and causes all sorts of health issues, but did you know excess sugars in your diet could also be aging your skin prematurely? Anyone who knows me, or uses my skin care products knows I love honey for skin care and have used it personally for years – but for my diet I steer away from sugars and have for many years now. I didn't make this change to my diet for my skin but I am certain my skin has benefited.
Healthy, young looking skin depends on healthy cells. Healthy cells are elastic and retain their vital moisture (water). Things that damage the health of skin cells cause the problems that leads to unhealthy looking, wrinkled, dull skin. Eating excess sugars causes a spike in blood sugar, more than your body needs for energy at that moment, and all that excess sugar goes looking for a new home. Besides your waist its finding it’s way to all sorts of organs in your body to wreak havoc. Your skin is one of those organs it finds its way to. In your skin this excess sugar in your blood leads to a process called glycation.
Glycation is where that sugar molecule find’s its new home in the collagen and elastin fibers that surround your skin cells. Young skin is elastic, it renews itself regularly, glycation causes the collagen to become stiff, and the skin’s enzymes to lose access to the vital proteins that allow it to rebuild itself. Glycation also makes your skin more vulnerable to sun damage! That’s an interesting thought, particularly as there are studies now suggesting that some sunscreens may actually be more harmful than good for our skin. So – eat too much sugar and poof, prematurely aging skin! Yes, we need keep our skin clean and moisturized and give it extra protection from the environment, but before you look for that one magic skin potion to look younger or stay young looking take a look at what you are eating!
We eat more added sugar in our food now in the USA than we ever have historically. While it’s a somewhat challenging statistic to measure estimates are that the average amount of ADDED sugar Americans eat is about 22 teaspoons PER DAY, that’s nearly ½ cup of sugar a day! Yikes! This added sugar accounts for as many as 350 to 500 extra empty, health and skin damaging calories every day. The American Heart Association recommends no more that 9.5 teaspoons per day. Four grams is equal to a teaspoon of sugar, so your total daily allowance should include 38 or fewer grams of added sugar according to the AHA, not the 88 grams or more that many of us are consuming.
If you are purchasing processed foods read labels carefully, there is a lot of added sugar hiding there under various names. Sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Barley Malt Syrup, Fructose, Dextrin, Dextrose, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup, Lactose, Maltodextrin, Rice Syrup, Saccharos, Sucrose, Treacle, Xylose, Fruit juice concentrate, etc… it’s all ADDED sugar, and it seems to be in just about every processed food you look at, even supposedly healthy ones! But before you reach for the sugar substitutes think twice and do your research, they may not be much better – jumping from the frying pan into the fire! What if I told you it’s possible to cut out all the added sugar and still enjoy life and perhaps even enjoy food more?
I cut added sugar out of my diet 15 years ago when I recognized the extremely negative impact it was having on my energy levels and my health. When I recognized the culprit to my health issues was sugar I became a label detective and I was amazed at how much sugar was in nearly everything on the grocery shelves! Cutting back on sugar can be done and life can still be sweet – you do need to eat mindfully, but you don’t need to lead a life of deprivation! Your best bet is to read labels and choose carefully or even better yet eat foods that don’t have labels! A carrot, an orange, an apple, even an avocado never made anyone fat – or gave them prematurely aged skin! And, yes – they are delicious!
I will very occasionally cheat a tiny bit, mainly for social reasons, but when I do it only strengthens my resolve to continue. I think that all the added sugars dull our taste because after cutting added sugars out most sweets like cakes, candies and cookies taste overpoweringly sweet to me now, I can also feel my blood sugar spike, my stomach become overly acidic and then my blood sugar to crash leaving me tired. So, except when it’s rude to refuse a little bite of cake at a party when I want something a little sweet I will reach for an apple, an orange, or a little dark chocolate (a girl’s gotta have chocolate!), these satisfy my desire for sweet and they taste good – unlike that horribly much too sweet cake!
Food for thought – and healthy skin!
Here’s To Our Health!
Shirley Makela, AADP INHC