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Your Skin on Sugar: How it Impacts the Aging Process

This probably comes as no surprise, but sugar in all its forms (corn syrup, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, etc.) is extremely damaging to the skin. In fact, it can be damaging to all organ systems. So sure, enjoy that yogurt, but eat it plain or add fresh fruit, since the sweetened varieties can sabotage a healthy lifestyle. Here’s why…

Sugar suppresses the activity of our white blood cells, making us more susceptible to infectious disease—like a cold or the flu—as well as cancer. The same disfunction of the white blood cells can also make allergies worse. Doesn’t exactly sound like a good time, huh? But wait, there’s more.

Sugar is Collagen’s Natural Enemy

Wrinkles, deep lines and sagging skin are a partial byproduct of the process known as glycation, in which excess sugar molecules attach themselves to collagen fibers and ultimately cause them to lose their strength and flexibility (we call these bondings AGEs, or advanced glycosylation end products). The result? Skin becomes less elastic and more vulnerable to sun damage, fine lines and sagging. Sugar and other high-glycemic carbohydrates such as breads, starches, potatoes, baked goods, pastas, desserts and soda, are rapidly converted to glucose in your bloodstream.

The Effects Are More Than Just Skin Deep

While wrinkled skin is one of the visible signs of age, most degenerative diseases are affected one way or another by disease-producing glycation reactions. These reactions can result in serious damage to your body, including arterial stiffening, atherosclerosis, cataract formation, neurological impairment, diabetic complications...the list goes on. In fact, AGEs lie at the very heart of the aging process—from the skin to the brain—and can be responsible for wrinkles, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more, including age-related memory loss and even Alzheimer’s disease. Simply put, the formation of AGEs is responsible for both internal and external damage to the body...and sugar is the primary culprit.

The Glycation Fighter: Alpha Lipoic Acid

Thanks to alpha lipoic acid (ALA), we’re not completely powerless in the fight against glycation. Its powerful anti-glycating effects and anti-inflammatory properties make it highly recommended as both a nutritional supplement and a topical treatment. No matter if it's taken as a supplement or used topically, ALA’s fat solubility allows it to penetrate into the skin where it can wield its anti-inflammatory power to great benefit and help protect the cells from free radical damage.

But What About Sweeteners?

Here’s the deal, whether it’s sugar or another form of sweetener, it can all contribute to the health of your skin. When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise—whether it’s caused by a poor diet filled with sugary, starchy foods, or by stress—we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at a cellular level. This increase can cause inflammatory diseases such as acne to worsen dramatically. What it all boils down to is this—if you’re concerned about your health and not accelerating the aging process, it’s best to avoid all forms of refined sugar and chemical artificial sweeteners. Instead, your only source of sugar should be fresh fruits and vegetables; these are high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and contain nutrients that help promote beautiful skin and a healthy body. While nixing sugar from your diet isn’t exactly an easy change to make, it’s one that can result in serious benefits for both you and your skin.