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Quit sugar for healthier looking skin

Quit sugar for healthier looking skin

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Too much of the sweet stuff may be making you look older than you'd like. Find out more about how sugar contributes to wrinkles.

Everyone I know seems to be quitting sugar at the moment. There are a multitude of websites, books, and 8 or 12 week programs out there that are all devoted to helping you get off the sweet stuff.

Many people are giving up sugar in an attempt to help lose a few extra kilos, control their sweet cravings, or to improve their energy levels.

And it turns out that cutting back on sugar may also help in the maintenance of a more youthful glow.

In recent decades consuming too much sugar has been linked to a range of adverse health conditions – including being overweight or obese, developing cardiovascular disease, dental cavities, gout and diabetes.

It also appears that sugar may also have a direct effect on ageing – in particular, it may have an ageing effect on our skin through a process called glycation.

Glycation occurs when sugar interacts with proteins in the body, and causes what are known as ‘cross-links’ to form between collagen, and elastin fibres.

Collagen, elastin & the skin

Collagen and elastin fibres support the dermis - which is the middle layer of the skin. It provides nutrients and structural support to the upper layer of the skin.

Collagen and elastin fibres in the dermis are typically arranged in a woven structure which gives the dermis its ability to stretch and contract.

The appearance of youthful looking skin is dependent on maintaining the structure of these fibres and their ability to remain flexible and repairable.

Cross linking, AGEs & wrinkles

Cross linking of collagen and elastin fibres makes them unable to be repaired through the body’s normal mechanisms.

The more cross-linking that occurs the more difficult it becomes for the body to repair and maintain these tissues. Collagen and elastin fibres may then lose their shape, become tangled and thicken into bundles, and it is these structural changes that can result in the appearance of wrinkled skin.

After a while cross-links can go through further changes and form irreversible cross-links that are called ‘advanced glycation end-products’ or AGEs.

So, for the health of your skin it might be worth skipping that piece of cake for afternoon tea today, or passing on dessert tonight.

Reducing AGEs

Pre-formed AGEs are also found in foods are cooked by grilling, frying or roasting (think about that golden brown crust on your bread, or the skin of your roast chicken).

You can combat this by using cooking processes that involve water, such as boiling and steaming, as these produce less AGEs.

Certain herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, oregano, ginger and garlic may also help to reduce the production of AGEs – it might be worth trying to include these in as many meals as you can.

References available on request

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I am in a call centre for about 5 years and have tinnitus in my head which started about a year ago. You can't define it to the left or right ear. It is just in your head.
I had a 7 mth break and just went back to the call centre last Monday 16/6/2014. I was doing off phone work and only went back on phones on Friday 20/6/2014. I put in soft ear plugs and did not have the ear phone directly over the ear opening. At the end of the day my ear drum was sensitive, hot and uncomfortable. That night my tinnitus was very severe. Louder than normal. I took a sleeping tablet. I do have blood pressure and take 5 mg of cloversil. It is a stressful job. Please note the off phone work not trigger tinnitus.
I am not sure what to do. Resign from my job is an option I could do.
Anonymous 23 Jun 2014
Hi Rosemary,

Please find the references below:
• Te Morenga et al. Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. BMJ. 2012; 345:e7492
• Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clinics in Dermatology. 2010; 28: 409-411
• Lingelbach LB et al. Accumulation of Advanced Glycation End products in Aging Male Fischer 344 Rats during Long-Term Feeding of Various Dietary Carbohydrates. J Nutr.2000; 130: 1247-1255.
• McLafferty E et al. The integumentary system: anatomy, physiology and function of skin. Nursing Standard. 2012. 27: 3; 35-42.

All the best, Blackmores.

Blackmores 19 Jun 2014
I would appreciate a copy of the references for the article on sugar and the skin. Thank you.
Anonymous 18 Jun 2014