Sugar is enemy number one when it comes to premature ageing and inflammation. In addition to a scientifically based daily skin care regimen, diet is extremely important in the fight against premature ageing, obesity and disease.
A recent ‘Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’ study linked consuming high levels of sugar contributes to a higher risk of dying of heart disease. A new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the participants who ate the most sugar and refined carbs had a 10 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, compared to the average person.
Inflammation is directly linked with high GI diets. Excess sugar consumption can lead to broken capillaries, loss of elasticity and dark circles. I will also increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and acne.
Sugar puts excessive stress on your adrenal glands and the additional cortisol produced depletes the skin and body of vital nutrients, increases testosterone which stimulated excess oil production and lowers natural immunity.
Sugar and refined carbs can also make your skin appear wrinkled due to the process called glycation and produces toxic compounds called AGE’s (advanced glycation end products). These substances result in internal free radical damage to the supportive skin proteins and impacts heavily on the collagen and elastin which are responsible for making your skin look firm, springy and supple. Glycation is a reaction that takes place when simple sugar molecules such as fructose or glucose become attached to skin proteins deep in the dermis. This causes protein (collagen and elastin) fibres to become stiff and malformed. When those proteins hook up with renegade sugars, they become discoloured, weak, and stiff which manifests as wrinkles, sagginess, and loss of elasticity.
Humans have natural levels of human growth hormone (HGH) in the bloodstream. Whilst it is not recommended to artificially inject or consume HGH, natural levels maintain our body in optimal condition and regulates muscle mass, bone density, metabolism and heart function. Sugar actually suppresses the production of HGH.
Corn syrup is the biggest culprit as it has extremely high fructose levels and is highly addictive. Many qualified nutritionists believe that corn syrup is to be blamed for the obesity epidemic.
Please avoid the following sugars in you daily diet:
- Corn syrup (especially high fructose corn syrup)
- Agave nectar
- Barley malt
- White sugar
- Brown sugar
- Fructose (1-2 pieces of fruit per day is ok)
- Castor sugar
- Raw sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Fruit juice
- Maple syrup
- Rice syrup
- Golden syrup
As a general rule, ensure the labels contain less than 10% sugar/refined carbohydrate (< 10grams per 100 grams).
So what is the best sugar alternative?
As a general guide, the less processing the better and avoid artificial sweeteners which have been linked with elevated sugar cravings and various health concerns. Although fruit contains fructose, the nutrients and fibre in raw fruit outweighs the negative effects of fruit sugar. A piece of fruit or a cup of berries a day is ideal.
Stevia is a herb that is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is the ideal choice for ‘clean food’ sweetening. Recent studies have shown stevia to benefit patients with high blood pressure and diabetes and has no negative impact of blood sugar levels. Stevia reduces dental plaque and has also been recently been associated with increasing collagen production when applied to the skin and lips.
I find the most pleasant type of stevia comes from the purest tips of the herb (Reb A). The ‘Natvia’ brand is, in my opinion, is the most pleasant low calorie natural sweetener currently available in Australia. The secret is the natural sugar alcohol (erythritol) combined with high quality stevia which enables Natvia to be used by the spoonful without the aftertaste often experienced with stevia alone.
The best advice for a healthy diet is keeping it simple and fresh. Your carbohydrate intake should come from whole grains and raw fruits. Remember to read your labels for these culprits of inflammation.