If I told you that sugar was a major ager, would you be willing to give it up to avoid premature aging?
I should pre-warn all the chocoholics out there because you will hate what I have to say about sugar.
Sugar has up to now been closely associated with tooth decay and obesity, but now more and more researchers are linking sugar to premature aging!
Before I continue, I should come clean and say that I’m not much of a sugar person. I will add sugar to my lattes and a tiny bit of sugar to my tea, but I’m not a big dessert person and I don’t drink soft drinks. I could go one entire year without eating chocolate (and have) without any problems. I usually have dessert only once or twice per month, so I’m fairly disconnected from most of my friends (male and female) who either cannot live without chocolate or who could not go one week without dessert.
That said, I was not fully aware of the aging properties of sugar until recently. And it’s only recently that I’ve been made aware that some researchers and nutritional experts are dubbing sugar as “white death”!!!
Sugar is really bad news because sugar molecules have been shown to damage collagen. Now, if you’ve been reading this site for a while you know that I’m constantly on the lookout for products to boost collagen. Since we naturally lose collagen as we age, the logical idea is to do whatever we can to prevent damaging it faster than needs be.
“40 to 50 per cent of skin aging is said to be caused directly by your sugar intake”
Not only does sugar contribute to deplete collagen levels in our body, but that depletion actually leaves your skin more vulnerable to sun damage (not good)! So if you eat a lot of sugar, chances are that the molecules will stick to your collagen fibres and bind them together, hence creating dangerous toxins that reduce your skin’s elasticity and flexibility … which is associated with younger and healthier skin.
Excessive sugar consumption can age your skin in a way where it will start developing some deterioration characteristics usually common among skin that is over 40 … even if you are only a 25-year-old sugarholic. This means that women in their 40s, 50s and 60s who have a serious sweet tooth are seriously accelerating the speed at which they might be aging because of the high amount of sugar they consume.
So how can you cut back your intake of sugar without going into withdrawal?
It’s going to be hard for most people to cut sugar out from their diet entirely, but there are simple ways of dramatically cutting back.
1) Be careful with your breakfast: Bagels are loaded with carbs that will eventually turn into sugar. If you’re having one bagel per day … you are in big trouble. The rule when it comes to bagels is that one bagel is equivalent to 3-5 slices of bread (depending on its size). Don’t think breakfast cereal is much better. Look at the sugar count. Some of these cereals have more sugar than any other ingredients.
2) Bypass low-fat foods: Low-fat is such a funny word combination to me. Now, I will admit to running to the grocery store and buying all things low-fat when these products first hit my supermarket, in the hopes that I could control the calories I eat. The problem was that I never found low-fat foods to taste all that great. I absolutely HATE low-fat yogurt and don’t get me started on aspartame. It’s sad that most people are still unaware that low-fat means that the manufacturer has substituted “high fat” content with “high sugar”. So, technically the food will have less fat, but it will also have more sugar to compensate and since sugar turns into fat in your body … you’re not much better off! I say, do what the French do and eat full fat foods in small quantity. You’ll end up feeling more content and satisfied because the flavours of the food will be richer and you won’t feel like you are being short-changed.
3) Be careful with those drinks: I’m a real stickler when it comes to my lattes – when I order a coffee, I want it to be coffee and NOT a complicated drink with a complicated name. A few years back when I worked in a dot com firm, we used to have a daily coffee run and would all end up at Starbucks. I discovered their chai latte and would have one every other day. During the winter months, I could easily have one chai latte per day to warm me up. After the crash of the dot com, I found myself with limited funds for daily lattes and during that time I found out by pure coincidence how many daily calories I was ingesting just from my morning coffee. According to CalorieCount, a chai latte from Starbucks contains 240 calories, 3.5 g of fat (5 per cent of your daily requirement), 47 g of carbohydrates (16 per cent of your daily requirement). Basically the sugar intake from one chai latte is insanely high. Those summer drinks are also killer – a frappuccino is said to contain five teaspoons of sugar in that syrup the baristas add to your drink. Oh, before I forget, those extra toppings like whipped cream will not only add to your sugar intake count, but also to your fat count.
4) Eat loads of fibre: Food contain a lot of fibre such as vegetables and whole grain foods will allow your body to process more sugar because you’ll end up absorbing much less of it.
5) Read labels: Not long ago, I had to replenish one of my favourite foods – jam! I’ve been reading jam labels for a long time because not all jams are created equally when it comes to sugar content. What I find interesting is that I’ve noticed more and more people reading labels before buying and comparing sugar intake from one brand to another. This should not only apply for your jams, but for pretty much anything you buy. Yes, it will add some time to your grocery shopping trip, but in the long run you will be able to make better food choices if you know what the manufacturer has put in your food.
6) Reduce the bad stuff: You might not want to cut out certain foods from your diet, but you’ll certainly have to curb your appetite for foods that contain “bad” sugars – starches, white bread (unless it’s bread from a French bakery), white sugar, soft drinks, processed foods, dipping sauces and condiments that contain a lot of sugar (it’s really important to read the labels of condiments … you might be very surprised).
7) Know what sugar REALLY looks like: You won’t always see “sugar” on the label, sometimes “sugar” looks like this: glucose, glucose syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, invert sugar, treacle or golden syrup.
Photo by Terren in Virginia