October 20, 2021
Oh, sugar! Look at what you’ve done to my skin! Here's your guide to make your skin look younger, which includes evidence-backed facts about how eating sugar causes wrinkles, and what you should eat instead if you'd like to have more beautiful, youthful looking skin. For more information about skin aging, check out Aging Bites ebook.
Indulging in fistfuls of colourful candy can make you feel like a kid, but there is nothing youthful about sugar’s effect on your skin. Eating sugary foods causes a cascade of damaging reactions that can make your skin age faster.
The euphoric grin and that satisfied moan that slips out when we eat sweet food is a clear sign that sugar makes us feel good. Sugar stimulates the release of happy hormones in the brain. Foods with high amounts of simple sugar in them elicit a fast release of these happy hormones. Such foods include candy, sugary coffee drinks, muffins, condiments, white bread, crackers and some breakfast cereals. The ‘sugar high’ we experience from these foods makes us feel happy, but it also damages our skin.
High sugar levels in the skin cause a process called glycation. You can think of glycation as the process of tying knots with the scaffolding (collagen and elastin) of the skin. Sugar in the skin causes the amino acids in collagen and elastin to cross-link. By linking to each other, elastin and collagen loose their ability to stretch and recoil. Scientists thought they were witty when they called these knots advanced glycation end products (AGEs) since the knots cause the skin to look less youthful. To avoid this ‘AGE-ing’ of your skin don’t eat sugary treats.
Was that geeky? Try this analogy instead. Your skin is like fresh bread. It's soft, and spongy - when you push into it, it bounces back into it's original, smooth, flawless shape. However, over time, as sugar molecules bombard your skin's structure, it becomes stiff, similar to how that fresh bread turns crusty, hard, and bumpy when you toast it. In other words, if you eat sugar, you're toast.
The sweet call of sugar is strongest in the afternoon - could you swap out your sugary afternoon treat, for a more skin supporting food? According to British researchers most people are likely to give into a sugary craving like cookies, sugary coffee-drinks and muffins around 4:12pm. Don’t give in! Instead, reach for “fibre, fat and protein to help fill you up and end a craving…good options include frozen berries or mango, a hard-boiled egg, walnuts or almonds, “ says Dr. Joey Shulman, Chiropractor and national best-selling author of nutrition-related books. From mangos to raspberries, there are lots of sweet tasting foods to choose that feed your skin, and starve your wrinkles.
Succumbing to sugary cravings does not only age your skin, it will “result in extra weight gain around the belly region, fatigue and an intense craving for more!” says Shulman. You can also squash your cravings with healthy options like a glass of water or herbal tea, some fruit or vegetables, a handful of almonds, or inulin. Haven’t heard of inulin before? Inulin is a fiber that can make you feel satiated and promotes digestive health. There are even chews that contain inulin, designed for moments (like 4:12pm) when cravings arise.
When researchers studied the diet of people from Australia, China, Greece, Japan and Sweden, they found eating vegetables, legumes, fish and olive oil were associated with younger-looking skin. It makes sense that diets rich in whole foods like vegetables, fish and legumes would be helpful to the skin as they are low in sugar.
Did you known the average Canadian consumes 2 pounds of sugar per week? Sugar is hiding in many everyday foods and drinks. We know that cutting sugar completely out of your day isn’t realistic. By focusing on whole, fresh foods you can cut down on your sugar intake and feed your skin beautiful.
Luckily, researchers know a lot of foods support healthy skin. Healthy skin is able to regenerate - creating youthful cells more readily. When well nourished, your skin can more readily repair damage caused by UV light, environmental toxins, and other insults. Hydration is also key - well hydrated skin appears more radiant, plump, and shows wrinkles less prominently. Here are 5 Wrinkle Busting Foods worth eating to make your skin look younger:
According to studies, cocoa has the ability to hinder inflammation which is a key player in why skin can appear red, lumpy, and lose structure. In a 2012 paper, cocoa is touted for its many beneficial health benefits, which include inhibiting the development of many age-related diseases including heart disease, metabolic disorders, and cancer.
2. Green Tea (Fresh Tea Leaves)
Many adults live with low levels of inflammation from stress, processed foods, lack of sleep, and exposure to environmental pollutants. Thousands of studies have looked at the anti-inflammatory effects of nutrients from around the world, and the natural ingredient with some of the most exceptional abilities to promote longevity is EGCG. Anti-aging abilities of EGCG include preventing the formation of wrinkles, and rejuvenating skin cells. In research studies, EGCG appears to improve the structure of skin, reduce the presence of inflammation, and lower levels of proteins known to play a role in skin aging. That’s firmer, more youthful looking skin!
The pigments that give apples their colour are called flavonoids. Research has found flavonoids are great antioxidants for the skin. In particular, the flavonoid called quercetin found in apple skin. The easiest and best way to eat an apple is just as it is – perfect the way nature made it. Processing an apple lowers it’s phytonutrient content and thus reduces their age-fighting power. Apple juice for example has only 10 percent of the antioxidant activity of fresh apples.
Resveratrol is the famous antioxidant in red wine linked with many healthy benefits to the heart, and the skin. Peanuts are also a source of resveratrol, as are red grapes and mulberries. Studies show resveratrol may be able to prevent UVB from damaging skin - that's the radiation that hits our skin when we're exposed to sunlight. The trouble is, we need this sunlight exposure for our body to be able to start the process of forming vitamin D (which starts in the skin, then other organs help create the vitamin D we need for bone, immune, and heart health).
Genestein is an antioxidant found in soybeans which science links to healthier skin. Be sure to choose soy products that mimic what cultures with healthy lifestyles have traditionally consumed (e.g. tofu, edamame) and avoid overly processed soy-based food products for optimal results.
Remember that wrinkles should never be considered unpretty. Wrinkles are stories of laughter and emotions that make life worth living. Yet, healthy skin is radiant to look at - and, that can be accomplished at any age! Eating wrinkle busting foods is just the start. A healthy lifestyle also includes positive thinking, and a good sweat (regular physical exercise is a vital part of healthy aging).
Bioactive compounds for skin health: a review. Nutrients 2021 Jan; 13(1):203.
Anti-skin-aging effect of epigallocatechin gallate by regulating epidermal growth factor receptor pathway on aging mouse model induced by d-Galactose. Mech Ageing Dev 2017 Jun;164:1-7.
Relationships of self-reported dietary factors and perceived acne severity in a cohort of New York young adults. J Acad Nutr Diet 2014 Mar;114(3):384-92.
Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clinics in Dermatology, 2010; 28 (4): 409-411.
Tannis, A. Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles. Fairwinds 2009.
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