Are you one of those people who can seemingly eat whatever you want and not get fat? Well if you are I hate you and if you come anywhere near me I will take my Betty Crocker boxed brownie mix and throw it at your head... just kidding, I would sooner sell a kidney than throw away a perfectly good box of brownie mix. Perhaps you are one of those people who do eat what they want, but compensate by doing countless hours of cardio at the gym and exercise till you are drenched in sweat and smell like dirty old gym bag. Well if you fit into either of these categories, or simply have a sugar addiction, but care about your image and looks, then you had better listen up. Because while you might be able to avoid packing on the pounds via good genetics or exercise, all that sugar is destroying your skin and aging you. That's right, sugar is once again the topic of a Healthy Boy post, and what you read today may make you put down that spoon and step away from the Haagen Dazs.
You all know that I'm the sugar nazi and have written so many articles about the negative effects it has on your waist line and overall health, but this particular side effect of consuming sugar was news that even got me listening. Whether you are male, female, straight, gay, or metrosexual, we can all agree that over the past decade we have become increasingly interested in preserving our exteriors with countless lifestyle choices, products and procedures. Looking good consumes our everyday activities from buying clothes that fit us well, using hair product and moisturizers, and getting our teeth whitened. We buy gym memberships, exercise, eat healthy, and read up on the newest anti-aging information in books and online. Some people even take it a step further by undergoing expensive, and sometime life threatening, cosmetic procedures. All in the name of looking good. No one wants to look old. Period. And while we do grow old, we would like to look as healthy and young as possible while doing so.
One of the things that gets a lot of attention in our fight against aging is our skin. We drink a lot of water to keep it hydrated, we apply moisturizers and creams, and even get a little botox (Yes even I have tried it once before, just around my crows feet, but it made me look like the Joker on crack when I smiled, so I didn't get it again). But all of the efforts we put into our skin maybe worthless if we are consuming sugary snacks or refined carbohydrates on a regular basis...
Grandma Wrinkles from Bravo's Real Housewives of New Jersey
You see when you consume products that contain sugar or carbohydrates, your body converts it into glucose for energy and transports some into your muscles, liver and cells. But if you have consumed something high in sugar (soda, candy, chocolate, ice cream etc) or refined carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta etc) you have excess glucose floating around and some of that glucose attaches itself to collagen fibers throughout your body. Collagen is what makes your skin tight, glowing and youthful. What happens when sugar attaches itself to these fibers? They lose strength and flexibility, causing your skin to lose elasticity, which leads to lines and sagging. Not only that, but once collagen has been damaged like this, it starts to increasingly attract fatty deposits, otherwise known as cellulite. Yes, that cottage cheese appearance on your thighs and butt could be the result of one too many cans of sprite!
This process where sugar and collagen fibers combine is known as "glycation" and is what many health and skin experts now believe is a cause for premature aging. Further to this it has also been shown in various scientific trails that the inflammation caused within the body as a result of consuming too much sugar, not only ages your skin, but ages your internal organs as well, making you not only look older, but feel older.
So we all know that alcohol, smoking and sun exposure are bad for our skin, but what are some of the other things we can do to mitigate the risk of aging skin?
1. Avoid foods that contain high amounts of sugars or refined carbohydrates (soda, candy, pastries, chocolate, ice cream, muffins etc)
2. Eat vegetables high in Lutein: A supplement found in some vegetables like spinach, watercress and red peppers which has been shown to reduce skin aging
3. Eat foods rich in Vitamin C: This vitamin actually helps produce and repair collagen. It is high in concentration in dark leafy vegetables, oranges, peppers and strawberries
4. Take an Omega 3 fish oil supplement: These healthy fats have been shown to help protect cells from damage
5. Eat Protein: Dairy, meat and beans contain proteins that help provide the amino acids necessary to build and produce collagen
6. Water: It keeps your skin hydrated.
In the end, there are numerous factors that can negatively affect the aging of our skin, such as smoking, dehydration, sun exposure... and now sugar. Sure that twinkie you have been eyeing from the vending machine probably isn't going to turn you into shar-pei or grandma wrinkles over night, but that whole box of Betty Crocker brownie box I threw at you just might. Just remember to keep excess sugar consumption to a minimum, even if you are blessed with genetics that burn fat or have the luxury of working out for hours each day. Be smart about what you put into your body, and go ahead an indulge every now and then... just not too often.