Everyone is addicted to sugar in some form or another. It is in almost everything we eat and is cleverly disguised on food labels as glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, sorbitol or other names. The U.S. population is consuming sugar at alarming rates and it is a great contributor to high obesity and diabetes rates. High sugar consumption can also be linked to hypertension, elevated levels of uric acid, tooth decay and is a food for cancer cells (Tobia, 2014). Sugar has lots of calories and no nutritional value.
Sugar can also slowly kill the skin and cause it to age quicker. This occurs by means of glycation, inflammation and oxidation. Glycation occurs when sugar binds to proteins in the skin (collagen and elastin) causing the collagen and elastin to break down to form wrinkles and become dry. We not only eat sugar, the body also produces glycated sugar by mean of our diet. Researchers at the Fox Cancer Center in Philadelphia have found that the body produces glycated sugar whenever sugar is available in the body’s cells (especially skin cells) (Tobia, 2014). Even if we restrict our sugar consumption or have a sugar-free diet, it would not eliminate glycated sugar in the body. Inflammation is caused by the body’s response to harmful stimuli caused by the immune system which causes redness and aging. Oxidation is caused by external factors such as environmental factors and sun damage. It is also caused by metabolic stress (internal factors) which is produced by glycated sugar.
Researchers at the University of California published findings in the American Journal of Public Health that sugary drinks may also accelerate the aging process. This study found that drinking a 20 ounce soda daily may accelerate aging by 4-6 years (similar to how smoking speeds up aging). The study found that white blood cell telomeres had a shorter life span in participants who had a high consumption of sugary drinks. Short telomeres have also been associated with some age-related diseases (as mentioned above). The same results were not noted in those who consumed diet soda, non-carbonated drinks or 100% fruit juice.
So our skin can truly be a reflection of what we eat (or as the saying goes, we are what we eat!). Ways to minimize sugar is to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks, carbonated sugary drinks, pasta, rice, bread and carbohydrates which all convert to sugar in the body.
To read more on this topic, click on the following link:
Bever, L. (2014). The Washington Post, “Study: Sugary sodas linked to accelerated aging”. Retrieved December 3, 2014, from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/10/20/sugary-sodas-could-take-4-6-years-off-your-life/
Tobia, A. (2014). Skin Inc., “Glycated sugar: Why it kills skin and what to do about it.” Retrieved December 22, 2014, from: http://www.skininc.com/skinscience/physiology/GlycatedSugarWhyItKillsSkinandWhattoDoAboutIt285120991.html
Campbell, K. (2013). Skin, Inc., “Glycation and the skin.” Retrieved December 22, 2014, from: http://www.skininc.com/skinscience/physiology/Glycation-and-the-Skin-230102271.html?utm_source=Related+Items&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=Related+Items