Ok, so most of us know that too much sugar is bad for our teeth and can make us put on weight. But did you know that it is bad for your skin too, and that too much sugar can make you look older? It’s true. Too much processed sugar can cause wrinkles and dark circles around the eyes whilst dehydrating the skin.

Most food contains levels of some sugars; some food we eat such as fruit and vegetables contain natural sugars, whilst other food, such as processed foods like soft drinks, cakes and cookies, contain refined sugar.

It is estimated that the average American’s Sugar consumption has risen by 40% since the 1970s.

So how does sugar affect you? And what does your body have to do when it is confronted with sugar in our day to day diets?

• Human Growth Hormone Suppression. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is present in high levels in children as they grow and develop. Normal levels of HGH help to regulate body composition, heart function, bone and muscle growth and the metabolism of fat. By suppressing HGH levels, sugar consumption can cause preliminary aging.
Some celebrities inject HGH to alleviate the signs of aging. However, this is not recommended as high levels of some types of HGH such as insulin growth factor in adults can cause cells to mutate and spread, causing cancer.

• Glycation. On entering the blood stream sugar binds to proteins and fats in the blood, in a process known as glycation. This process results in advanced glycation end products (or AGEs). AGEs cause the stiffening of protein fibers, including collagen and elastin, which help to keep our skin supple and wrinkle free. In addition, AGEs make the complexion more vulnerable to classic skin agers like UV light and cigarette smoke. Of course, all sugar, both refined and naturally occurring, result in glycation but the process is more intense when we eat refined sugar.

• Inflammation. A diet high in foods that cause your blood sugar levels to rise can lead to inflammation. This, in turn, can lead to broken capillaries, loss of elasticity on the skin and cell degeneration, all of which can cause you to look older.
How Sweet is Sweet Enough?

So now we know how sugar can cause us to age. But how much sugar is too much? The World Health Organization recommends that between 5 and 10% of your diet comes from sugar. In an ideal world we should not have any processed sugar at all, with our sugar intake coming from wholefoods like fruit, grains and naturally occurring sugars.

What Can You Do?

We know that you are unlikely to be able to, or even want to, cut all refined sugar out of your diet. But stick to these tips most of the time so that you can enjoy the occasional sweet treat without piling on the years (or the pounds):

• Cut out processed sugar, like soft drinks, added sugar in hot drinks, cookies and cakes.
• Go Low GI. Try to eat a low GI diet, which will prevent your sugar levels from spiking and stop high sugar levels from giving your system a bashing.
• Get Antioxidant. Eat lots of fresh fruit and veg as well as legumes, nuts and spices to keep inflammation down.

A Helping Hand

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