Thursday, 27 March 2014

Your Skin... and Sugar

Following on from my last post on nutrition I just wanted to share a little bit more information with regards to sugar. Yes, we have all heard how it's bad for us, but why and (given this is a beauty blog) how can it affect your skin?

The Good

We all know it tastes pretty spectacular. I have a huge sweet tooth and pretty much nothing can come close to giving me that happy, warm, fuzzy feeling other than a belly full of ice cream. I never met a dessert I didn't like... well maybe apart from liquorice!

The Bad

With that being said, there’s not a single one of us who doesn’t know that sugar, especially in excess, is bad for us. It’s terrible for our teeth, destroys our mood, makes us gain weight and severely alters our overall blood chemistry. We have to admit that sugar simply ruins our health. However, we (myself very much included) continue to indulge our sugar obsession, despite the detrimental consequences. We can all agree life is too short not to enjoy our favourite dessert, right?

The Ugly

Not only can sugar lead to weight gain it can also make us look older! In fact, excess sugar in our bodies is now being revealed as one of the most damaging elements to our appearance. As it turns out these sweet little sugar molecules are leading a double life. After they pass over our taste buds and give us that amazing sugar buzz they change their personalities and go on a seek-and-destroy mission. In a process called glycation excess sugar in our blood stream binds to proteins in our bodies. Once bonding happens, that particular protein becomes glycated, which means it loses its shape, hardens and fails to function correctly while excreting exotoxins that affect surrounding proteins. After the glycation process has run its course, the protein is referred to as an Advanced Glycation End Product, or A.G.E. for short (a rather appropriate acronym).

This is where the ugly part comes in. Most people are aware that the main protein in human skin is collagen, the proteins of which are very long lasting with a natural half-life of approximately 15 years. Sadly they are not immune to the effects of glycation, becoming misshapen, hardened, brittle and excreting exotoxins. It is therefore not difficult to see the link between visible signs of ageing in the skin – wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, sagging, uneven skin tones, stress, loss of elasticity, etc. - to the process of glycation.

Glycation becomes more evident in your appearance when sugar molecules attack the surface proteins on the fine capillaries of your skin. This process causes your capillaries to leak, causing what we recognize as spider veins. The same process can happen in the under-eye area, which we recognize as dark circles.

The most demoralizing aspect of glycation is the fact that once a protein has become glycated, or is now considered an A.G.E., the damage is permanent. Glycation is an additive effect and probably begins as soon as we’re born, affecting us throughout our lifetime.

As research advances I am sure that soon we will have a whole new category of anti-glycation treatments. However, until that is the case I am going to try to make a concerted effort to reduce my sugar intake. The easiest way for me to do this is to concentrate on whole foods. There are so many added sugars in prepared foods, even those that are savoury, but as long as you know what you are eating you can at least control your consumption at some level. Honestly I would be far too scared to add up the number if I was living on cereals, energy drinks and ready meals (which I did during uni)! There are so many easy recipes on the internet for those of us striving for a healthier life. One of my favourites is
Madeleine Shaw, who advocates a low sugar lifestyle, without giving up all treats.

Maybe I can have my cake and eat it too after all?

What are your thoughts on sugar? Did you know that it could affect your outward appearance, as well as your internal health and weight? Do you have any tips or advice to share on cutting down?

1 comment

  1. Its so interesting isn't it when you find out things such as drinks you think are healthy, actually have a heap load of sugar in. Lovely informative post.

    Jess x


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