Sugar is in just about everything we eat, from natural sugars in foods like fruit and vegetables to added sugars in processed foods including soft drinks, cakes and biscuits. In America, sugar consumption has increased 40 per cent since the 1970s.
Some of the issues your body is faced with when confronted with excess sugar include:
“When sugar enters your blood stream, it binds to proteins,” Sydney endocrinologist Sophie Chan explains. Elastin and collagen are both proteins and building blocks of the skin. “During glycation, toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs are produced.” These can cause wrinkles, sagging, dark circles under eyes and a multitude of complications to your organs and blood stream, and fast-track diabetes.”
Human Growth Hormone:
Human Growth Hormone is injected by celebrities (and body builders) in an attempt to ward off aging (we’re not suggesting you do that), but we need to ensure our naturally occurring levels are high. “We know glucose suppresses the human growth hormone,” says Chan. “When we give people a glucose tolerance test (to measure how their body reacts with sugar) we measure the levels of HGH.” HGH helps regulate body composition, muscle and bone growth, fat metabolism and even heart function, without which you can look and feel older.
Every time you eat sugar, your pancreas produces insulin to counter-act it. If the pancreas is overworked it leads to insulin resistance (the pre-cursor to diabetes, where the pancreas slows significantly and diet and exercise needs to be addressed quickly to avoid diabetes).
“Inflammation has been associated with a diet high in high GI foods,” explains Kara Landau, a spokeswoman with the Dietitians Association of Australia. Inflammation can lead to broken capillaries, loss of skin elasticity, and breakdown of cells. All of which fast-track aging.
“Eating sugar won’t give you a cold,” Chan laughs. “And in fact many people believe in manuka honey (a sugar) for treating colds. But in people with diabetes, immunity is significantly reduced.”
No-one looks younger when they gain weight. “Research has shown that when we eat sugar we tend not to eat healthy foods, so we deprive our bodies of critical vitamins and minerals.” Vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a youthful, complexion.
“We know carbonated sugars (such as soft drinks) significantly increase osteoporosis,” Chan adds. Yet another condition that leads to premature aging.
In preliminary studies, researchers at The Fisher Centre in New York have found a link between heightened blood sugar and alzheimer’s.
So how much is too much?