You might be motivated to cut back on sugar for health reasons such as managing weight, controlling cravings, or just because you know it makes you feel naff. There are however a whole host of other benefits for the taking – fighting wrinkles being one of them. If you wish that you’d still get asked for ID, sugar and wrinkles have an interesting correlation you might want to take note of.
What does sugar actually do? (my simple version)
- When you eat sugar, a process takes place called glycation
- This binds the sugar you’ve eaten with protein (amino acids)
- The resulting compounds are called advanced glycation end products (appropriately shortened AGEs).
- This is damage inside your body to your cells i.e. aging.
If we’re talking about wrinkles specifically, then the sugar attaches to collagen and elastin, those things we always hear about in the claims of anti-wrinkle creams. The sugar makes them, and our skin, stiff and inflexible. So when you hand over your wine money and smile, it’s going to be obvious that you’re old enough.
How significant is this amongst everything else?
Sun damage, dehydration, a bad skincare regime etc. as we know, are all other factors that are going affect wrinkles later down the line. So what difference is sugar really going to make? According to Dr Mercola, about 50% of skins aging can be down to this glycation process, so fair to say it’s pretty significant, especially if you don’t live somewhere that gets a lot of sun i.e. the UK!
It’s a long burner though; you aren’t going to feast on chocolate one night, only to wake up looking like Aunt Vera the next. It’s a lifetime of eating sugar consistently that will make skin dull and wrinkled. The British Journal of Dermatology claims you won’t start seeing anything till the age of 35. So it’s a long term change in habits that’s going to make the real noticeable difference.
Is it worth it?
You might not be that bothered about wrinkles, I know I wasn’t in the slightest in my early 20’s. If someone had told me this whilst eating my carrot cake I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid and promptly helped myself to another slice.
You do start to get more concious as the years pass. Sugar and wrinkles might not be enough of a motivator to kick the sweet habit alone, but it sure is a nice health plus amongst everything else.
Top 3 things to do:
Quick fire what can you start doing today:
- Eat your sugar with protein or fat. Preferably eat it with or very soon after your meal. If snacking just team it with something else and avoid eating sugar solo.
- Be aware that fructose in fruit still counts. So be conscious of how much you eat and understand which fruits are high/low fructose (a useful list can be found here). Apples are high and strawberries are low, so opt for a few fruit lower fructose swaps here and there.
- Remember this is long term. Drastic changes for a few weeks are worthless, small long term tweaks will be much more effective. Sign up to Happy Sugar Habits if you want to get started on some of these.
In summary, the expensive option is to slap on a highly priced state of the art cream to revive skins ‘elasticity’, but it’s somewhat pointless if you are gorging on sugar. The cheaper, and all round healthy option is just to shun the sweet stuff. Shun it slowly, consistently and long term. Who knows, you may start to get asked for ID a little more often or get the odd complimentary comment for your efforts.
Does the thought of wrinkles make you want to eat less sugar or are you happy to just enjoy everything and age gracefully as you do? This wasn’t a motivator for me initially but it’s a nice reminder of what good you can do by changing a few things.