Sugar gets a lot of bad press. We all know the basics; that sugar is associated with weight gain, tooth decay and health problems such as type two diabetes and obesity. Sugar can also have other negative effects on the body, especially in speeding up the ageing process.
Refined sugars are the culprit. They can be found in processed foods such as cakes, chocolates and biscuits. They can also be hidden in other processed foods where you may not necessarily expect to find them such as sauces, soups and ready meals.
The problem is that sugar is just empty calories which give us energy but no other nutritional value.
In fact, a diet high in refined sugar sugars can actually leave us feeling low in energy. This is because refined sugars give our bodies an unnatural surge in sugar levels which is then followed a rapid drop. This leaves us feeling fatigued and listless.
Energy is best sourced from slow release carbohydrates like wholegrains, pulses and fruit and vegetables. Energy is released in a slower, steadier fashion which keeps sugar levels and, in turn insulin levels, stable. Keeping your blood sugar levels in a steady state avoids the sugar hit and inevitable sugar cravings that can follow.
Reducing your sugar intake is associated with many health benefits including:
reduced risk of type II diabetes
improved dental hygiene and reduced tooth decay.
As well as improving our general health, reducing our sugar intake has great skin enhancing and anti ageing effects.
The process behind the harmful effects of sugar is glycation. This occurs when the sugar circulating in the blood stream attaches to proteins and causes them damage.
Collagen and elastin are two proteins which are extremely vulnerable to glycation. Collagen is an essential building block in the support framework of our skin. Elastin gives skin recoil, which allows it to return back to normal following facial expression. When collagen and elastin are damaged by glycation it becomes less flexible and resilient and it becomes rigid and heavy.
The skin begins to sag, loses it youthful plumpness and wrinkles begin to develop.
To add to the damage, aged skin, lacking collagen is more exposed to further damage from UV rays, pollution and other environmental factors.
The advantages of a sugar free diet greatly outweigh the short- term satisfaction of a sugar hit. I’m a firm believer of everything in moderation. However, in the case of refined sugars, if you can remove them and replace them with healthier alternatives, you can still satisfy a sweet tooth without the expense of your health and ageing your skin.