01 Sep Give Up Sugar, It’s Making You Look Old And Ugly
If you’re thinking about giving up sugar for your new year’s resolution, maybe we can motivate you with some beauty facts that will “sweeten the deal”. By now you probably know that sugar isn’t good for you. Sugar has been linked with obesity, impaired immune function, tooth decay, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, just to name a few! What you may not know, however, is that sugar is also making you look older and uglier, and we’ve got the science to prove it!
How sugar makes you look old
If you’re not in high school anymore, sugar may not give you pimples like it used to, but it may be having other negative effects on your skin that you don’t even know about. For instance, did you know that sugar causes skin tissue to lose elasticity and function? Yep, that means saggy skin that makes you look older. For that matter, researchers are finding that any tissues, including ligaments and muscles, can loose elasticity due to something called “non-enzymatic glycosylation of proteins”, which basically means that the proteins (and even DNA) in your body are changed in ways they’re not supposed to! The effect is the same as when you brown meat, and it takes place inside your body. In this process, sugar molecules bind together with protein molecules, changing their structure. Not good. Now, some degree of glucose (sugar) is normal, but the more there is, the more this “non-enzymatic glycosylation of proteins” is taking its toll, and thus the less supple and elastic your skin will be.
You’ve probably heard of collagen, right? It forms most of the connective tissue in your body (including skin) and is what makes it springy and youthful, some people even get collagen treatments to look younger and eliminate wrinkles. Collagen grows in a triple helix, which makes it strong and resistant, as it needs to be to fulfill its function. Sugar, however, modifies the structure of the collagen, weakening it and thus causing wrinkles sooner. Long story short, excess sugar in your diet might just be the culprit of those unwanted lines creeping onto your face prematurely. Who knew the fountain of youth could be something to get rid of rather than seek out!
Wrinkling your skin is not the only thing that sugar does to make you look older. Sugar may play a part in causing varicose veins. If you look at the number of incidents of varicose veins in ‘undeveloped’ countries, where no refined carbohydrates exist, they are pretty much non existent. In western society, however, varicose veins have followed an upward trend, precisely mirroring the introduction and increase in refined carbohydrates like sugar.
Refined sugar is often called an ’empty calorie’. This is because unlike whole foods (fruits, unrefined sugars, etc…), the calories enter your digestive system alone, without any nutrients that would usually accompany them (vitamins, fiber, minerals, etc…). The result of this is that during the digestive process, the sugar leaches nutrients out of the body. In the case of magnesium, this is particularly apparent, with one molecule of sugar requiring 54 molecules of magnesium to digest. Can you guess what magnesium does for your hair? Yep, keeps it nice and colorful. Basically, magnesium is a core component of the enzymes that produce pigment in your hair. Is it any surprise that in the US about 75% of the population has a magnesium deficiency, and more people are getting grayer hair prematurely?
Conclusion: sugar makes you look old
So, sugar makes your skin wrinkly, gives you varicose veins, and makes your hair gray. If that doesn’t make you look old, I don’t know what will!
Interesting side note: did you know that using a sugar scrub for exfoliation can actually give you silky-smooth skin? So sugar’s not all bad, just don’t eat it! Also, consuming blackstrap molasses, the byproduct of refined sugar production, can help prevent gray hair.
How sugar makes you look fat
You probably already know that sugar = calories, and too many calories will lead to weight gain. What you may not know is that more than fat (or protein), sugar and refined carbohydrates will make you fatter faster, and will keep you overweight. How? There are 4 primary mechanisms at play.
- Increased Insulin: Eating refined carbohydrates increases the level of insulin in the blood. Insulin is used to convert sugar into energy, but when insulin levels in the blood are too high for too long, the body’s cells become resistant to it, which means more insulin is needed to do the same jobs. In addition to processing sugar, insulin is also in charge of storing fat, so more insulin in the blood also means the body is storing more fat than it would with normal insulin levels.
- Leptin Resistance: Leptin is a hormone that communicates to the brain the availability of fat stores and to stop eating, because there’s plenty of energy available. Fructose causes leptin resistance, which basically means that your brain doesn’t know you have fat stores, and sounds the alarms to eat more!
- Hunger: Fructose comes to us from sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, and sugar, which divides into glucose and fructose in the body. The problem with fructose is it doesn’t make you feel full (in fact it makes you feel hungry), which becomes a ‘big’ problem when you drink a 20oz soda, which has 240 calories, and don’t feel like you’ve consumed anything.
- Addictive: Sugar is addictive! It triggers dopamine releases in the brain, creating the same neural pathways as many narcotic substances do. The result is a genuine chemical addiction to sweets.
Beyond making you overweight, sugar consumption can also lead to more serious problems, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health problems associated with being overweight.
Conclusion: Sugar makes you fat
Sugar is not just an empty calorie, but an addictive substance that triggers hormones to store fat, tricks your brain into thinking you need to eat more, steals useful nutrients from your body and doesn’t even let you feel satisfied. Still need more evidence that sugar won’t leave you looking your best?
Other unsightly effects of sugar
Sugar can worsen or precipitate some pretty nasty and unsightly skin conditions, including:
Most people who have been on a sugar binge know how excess sugar can result in acne. Remember how sugar increases insulin levels? Well increased insulin levels can lead to the production of skin-clogging cells, and increase the action of your oil glands.
A condition that usually shows up as bright red cheeks, rosacea is made worse by increased sugar in the body, through glycation, the same process that makes your skin wrinkly and causes premature aging.
Dark patches on skin
One symptom of insulin resistance, an effect of increased sugar consumption, is the appearance of dark patches on the skin of the neck and in body creases.
Sugar can produce Eczema in children, which is inflammation of the skin.
Sugar is closely linked with gout, which is a painful condition in which uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints, appearing as red swollen joints from the outside. Ouch.
Sugar can inhibit growth hormone, which is responsible for the growth of cells throughout the body.
Get ready to wear glasses
The same glycation effect that causes skin to lose its elasticity also has been shown to cause cataracts in the eyes.
In case your dentist didn’t remind you, sugar causes cavities! Well, not exactly… Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, which in turn excrete acid, which turns into plaque, and it’s the plaque that causes cavities. Any carbohydrate can create plaque, but because sugar tends to stick around in the mouth for longer than some other carbohydrates, it’s more of a problem. Each time you eat sugar, the process starts over, so in this case it’s frequency, not quantity, that puts you most at risk for cavities. Sugar can also lead to gingivitis, also known as gums disease, in which the gums are red, inflamed, and sensitive.
But that’s not all…
This is actually a pretty short list, there are hundreds of health problems that can come as a result of increased sugar intake. If you know of any other unsightly problems that sugar causes, please let us know in the comments below!
Sweet things that are good for you
Maybe you’re not ready to give up sugar just yet, I mean sweets are… well, sweet! There must be another way? Luckily, there is. Not everything that’s sweet is bad for you, and even unrefined cane sugar has been shown to have health benefits in certain scenarios. Stay tuned for future articles where we’ll look into the health effects of various sugars, some of which may surprise you. In next week’s article we’ll look into sugars from fruit. Are they good? Bad? Why?
With the dawn of the industrial and agricultural revolutions, refined sugar has become abundant, and as the years have gone on we see more and more sugar entering our diets, from more sugary desserts and drinks to ketchup, soups, sports drinks, tomato sauce, yogurt, salad dressing, etc… This has in part contributed to an epidemic of different diseases, and another less known epidemic of premature aging, obesity, skin conditions, and more. Clearly not all sugars are created equal, and some are healthier than others for various reasons, but refined sugars are just not good for you.
So now that you know, what are you doing about it?
Happy new year from the Nature’s Original Medicine team, let’s make it a good one!