Is Your Sweet Tooth Aging Your Skin?
by A. Grano
For many, sugary foods are not consumed as occasional treats but rather on a regular, if not daily, basis.
According to the USDA, Americans consume 156 pounds of added sugar on a per capita basis each year!1 Besides being a threat to the waistline and cause for some to become high-risk for obesity and related conditions such as diabetes, too much sugar has been shown to lead to aging of the skin.
A Dutch study published in the journal, Age, found that sugar consumption may lead to premature aging.2 In addition, a diet high in refined foods and high glycemic, processed foods exacerbated acne in study participants.
Sugar consumption begins the process of glycation in the body, the age-accelerating reaction to excess blood sugar. During this process, sugar molecules bond to protein fibers, which then mutate and create Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).
Translated to your skin, these AGEs attack collagen, making skin lose its elasticity and suppleness. Research has also linked effects from this connective tissue damage to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer’s.
Besides cutting out sugar from your diet completely, there are ways you can still enjoy some sugar in moderation.
- Change up your habits. Keep in mind that artificial and refined sugars are far worse on the body than natural sugars, such as those from fruits. If you used to reach for a piece of candy, go for dried fruit (no sugar added) instead. It can offer the same chewy, sweet satisfaction.
- Eat in courses. According to Outsmart Diabetes, eating a salad before your main meal can help absorb starch and sugar thanks to the soluble fiber in plants, beans and carrots. This fiber also helps slow the rate of absorption altogether, reducing the amount of insulin the body produces to accommodate it.
- Add vinegar. Another tip from Outsmart Diabetes: Vinegar counteracts the enzyme that turns starch into sugar, again slowing the digestive process. Secondly, it helps the pancreas not produce as much insulin.
- Go for “good” starches. As most starchy foods are rapidly broken down into sugar, it’s best to limit bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, and processed foods made with flour. The best starchy foods are whole beans or lentils, as they are digested more slowly. When choosing grains, opt for whole, intact-when-cooked grains such as brown rice, barley and quinoa.
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1. USDA, “Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970-2005,” ers.udsda.gov.
2. Raymond Noordam et al, “High Serum Glucose Levels are Associated with a Higher Perceived Age,” Age.