Sugar: Past the Lips and Straight to the….face ?


(How sugar ages your skin)

Recent  health news has brought a lot of attention to the dangers of added sugar in our diets, and we are learning more and more about the damage caused by consuming too many sugary foods and drinks.  Most major diseases and disorders including Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease), heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes  (to name a few) are now thought to be linked to over-consumption of sugar.

According to the website nutrition “the leading cause of disability in the United  States and the leading causes of death are mostly caused by lifestyle, particularly what we put in our mouth.  Food and cigarettes.”

Now I know all of you are already aware of the dangers to our health caused by smoking cigarettes, but what you may  not know is how unhealthy sugar can be. In fact, according to research done by  Dr. Quanhe Yang of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sugar is so bad for us, that  “regularly consuming as little as one sugary fizzy drink a day was associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease.”(from

And we eat lots  of sugar!  Food manufactures put sugar in everything from ketchup to croutons to energy bars and even baby formula.  Even low-fat foods are laden with sugar to replace all the flavor lost when they removed the fat.  And the amounts they add can be  staggering. A 12 ounce can of soda can have as much as 39 grams of sugar. One teaspoon of table sugar contains 4.2 grams of sugar, so one soda would be the equivalent of more than 9 teaspoons of sugar in your drink (the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily ) .  Who does that?  If you were to make a 12 ounce glass of iced tea,  2-3 teaspoons of sugar would make it sweet enough for most people and 9 would most likely make it undrinkable.  So why do they put so much sugar in your soda? To hide the taste of all the salt they add to make you thirsty so you’ll drink more soda.  It’s a vicious cycle, and one we need to stop because it’s making us fat, killing us and making us look older.

The science of how sugar causes damage to our bodies is quite complicated. I suppose that’s why it took so long for science to understand its dangers.  I won’t attempt to give much detail, but a little is required to truly understand the consequences, and what I am talking about here is focused only on the effect of sugar on the skin. I’ll provide a link at the bottom of the page if you would like  to learn more about what sugar is doing  to the rest of your body.

As we age,  a process called glycation causes damage to the protein in the skin. In this process a sugar molecule attaches itself to a protein molecule resulting in the formation of a non-functioning  protein structure called Advanced Glycation End-Products or AGEs. In our skin, the proteins the sugar molecules attach themselves to are collagen and elastin, which are  responsible for giving our skin it’s plump youthful appearance and elasticity.

When AGEs occurs, the fibers become weak, less supple and discolored.  Over time this process leads to more  wrinkles, sagging skin and loss of radiance.  Loss of collagen and elastin is a normal part of aging, and we have to accept that our skin can’t look youthful forever, but when we combine life style choices like smoking, tanning and over exfoliating with excess sugar consumption, it’s a recipe for disaster for our skin! And not only do we have to worry about looking older, AGEs also makes the skin more vulnerable to UV light and cigarette smoke by creating abnormal cells and free radicals both of which are risk factors for skin cancer.

Sugar, particularly glucose (found in pastas and grains ), is a necessary part of our diet and is essential to keep cells functioning.  Every cell in our body uses glucose, it’s the energy of life.  But when we eat too much sugar, from unhealthy sources, our bodies and our skin pay the price!

Learn to make healthy choices when you eat, and you will be taking a big step towards slowing down the aging process.  And don’t think you can substitute by using “healthy” sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, agave, molasses, and even fruit juice (eat the whole fruit, the fiber helps slow down the process).  They may have a small amount of nutritional benefit, but they are still causing the exact same reaction and damage in your skin.

Read food labels, and  be aware of all the names used to indicate added sugars.  The following list will help you recognize hidden sugars:


High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener most of us already know about, because it’s gotten a lot of bad press in the past few years with claims that it’s even more harmful than sugar.  The truth is, when it comes to most of the health related issues of eating sugar, there really is no difference.  Sugar is sugar regardless of where it comes from and it will all make you just as sick.  However,  when it comes to AGEs, research has shown that high fructose corn syrup is 1o times more likely to causes AGESs, than any of the  other sugars we eat.

Trust me, I know how hard it is to give up sugar, but it is truly worth the effort.  You’ll not only look better, you’ll feel better too!  I gave up sugar a few months ago and I feel amazing!  Aches and pains I thought were just a natural result of aging  (I’m 62) have gone away, and I feel more alert and energetic than I have in years.  The first week was difficult, but  I no longer crave sweets, and I know if I can do it, anyone can!

For more  information about the dangers of sugar, click the link below to watch a very enlightening video.  It has some parts that are a bit technical,  but if you stick with it you’ll learn a lot.

Additional resources:


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