Sugar and its effect on the skin:
Although we are after one of the worst the economic downturns, for some of us women, life has never been sweeter. Whether it’s an iced cup cake, a can of coke or a chocolate fix, sugar consumption has tripled in the past 50 years and often accounts for a high proportion of our calorific intake. Sweet snacks can often be used to cope with stress, and are often used to boost our energy levels, and lift our moods but as a nation, it is important to remember that we are fast becoming sugar addicts.
In his new book Sugar Nation: The Hidden Truth Behind America’s Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way to Best it, Jeff O’Connell explains how the chemicals released by sugar can have the same effect as dopamine, the pleasure chemical released in substance abuse, which makes you instantly feel better, so of course who wouldn’t want to replicate that feeling.
So, outside of the fact that too much sugar converts into fat, causes cellulite and makes us look bigger, shockingly, a diet high in sugar and high-glycaemic carbohydrates, such as breads, rice and potatoes can make skin more stiff and inflexible – making you look older. ‘Sugar molecules attach to collagen fibres and cause them to lose their strength, so skin becomes more vulnerable to sun damage, lines and sagging’ saya Dr Nicholas Perricone, dermatologist and leading authority on diet and ageing.
What’s more, a host of scientists are claiming that our addiction to sugar can make us moody, forgetful, anxious and panicky and is increasing our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Also, diets high in sugar have become a focus of cancer researchers. The theory being that increased blood sugar levels provoke insulin surges that may feed tumour growth. Here in Ireland, health minister James Reilly has already pledged to implement a sugar tax.
So we all know and recognise table sugar, so what is the reason of us going overboard? Well, there are so many hidden sugars added to everyday foods, including cereals and low fat foods such as flavoured yogurt and even the amount of sugar in fruit is deceptive (see previous post on smoothies). Also, drinks and foods may include other ‘oses’ such as fructose, glucose and maltose etc which all convert to sugar. Fructose can be used in everything from cakes to soft drinks and juices and is known to suppress the hormone leptin, which transferred the ‘stop now I’m full’ message to the brain.
How to curb sugar cravings:
Cinnamon: Cinnamon helps to keep sugar levels even. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is recommended to take half a teaspoon in 20ml of aloe vera juice at 3pm to keep cravings at bay.
Chromium: Increase your chromium levels in your diet with foods such as sweet potato, corn, tomato, broccoli and whole grains to help curb sugar cravings. Chromium is an essential mineral that plays a role in how insulin helps the body regulate blood sugar levels.
Meals containing protein: Eggs, tofu, full fat yogurt, poultry, pulses, beans and lean meats together will healthy fats such as avocados, olive, flaxseed and so on will provide a steadier fuel to the brain instead of sugar filled carbohydrates.
Mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack: Healthy in between snacks, such as nuts can prevent you from becoming too hungry and allowing your blood sugar to drop too much and keep cravings at bay.
Run up the stairs: A few minutes of brisk exercise naturally encourages the liver to release its glycogen (glucose) stores into the blood stream. Three or four o’clock in the afternoon is the perfect time to deliver those reports, dance around the kitchen with the kids or run up the stairs.