Are You Aging Faster Due To Sugar ?
History of sugar goes back years back in ancient India where the juice was extracted from sugarcane and crystallized to form sugar. It surprises me how one could have thought of churning the stem of a grass-like plant and create beautiful sweet crystals from it, but moreover, I am surprised how it has taken over the world today that it is almost impossible to find a person who does not like sugar or sweets. However, when it comes to aging sugar is not all that sweet really.
How Sugar Is Bad For You?
Processed sugar in the diet might cause dark circles, wrinkles. It reacts with the protein in a reaction called Glycation, resulting in substances that can cause cell structures to harden. This can happen to any cell in your body. When skin cells are affected by glycation, it loses elasticity and causes wrinkles and dark circles.
Excess sugar also makes you urinate more and dehydrates the skin and can thus fast track the aging process. Sugar also has a bad reputation already for weight gain which almost everyone is aware of. All organs have to work overtime due to weight gain and obesity resulting in accelerated aging.
Inflammation can lead to multiple issues like heart diseases, diabetes, allergies, loss of skin elasticity, and cell breakdown which in turn adds up to faster aging. It is associated with consuming excess sugar or high GI foods. Excess sugar can promote bacterial growth resulting in acne-like issues on the skin.
Sources Of Sugar
Sugar comes in various forms and textures. Few commonly known sources of sugar are as follows
- White sugar – Commonly known as table sugar which has the worst reputation and rightly so. It is a combination of fructose and sucrose. One Tsp on sugar contains 16 calories. Also, the glycemic index of granulated sugar is 65, making it a high glycemic food. Sugar is refined and has almost no nutrition, hence it is not recommended in any healthy diet.
- Brown sugar – Most of the time brown sugar is white sugar with extra molasses added to it. The molasses might add little hydration and flavor to it, but overall it has similar bad effects as white sugar.
- Coconut sugar – Coconut sugar is less refined and has some traces of minerals as it is derived from the sap of coconut. It might be considered as a better alternative to regular table sugar, but still being sugar, the quantity should be restricted strictly.
- High-fructose corn syrup – Found in packaged food and drinks, high fructose corn syrup may cause a resistance to leptin, a hormone that signals hunger and satiety, this may lead to weight gain and obesity.
- Honey – Honey has some health benefits such as being antioxidant, containing minerals and bee-pollen if it is not refined a lot. It also has traces of vitamin B and C. It is a combination of fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose. With around 22 calories per Tsp, honey also has to be used in strict moderation, and 1:1 replacement to sugar should not be practiced.
- Maple Syrup – This sweet syrup has its origin in Canada and North America. It is extracted from the sap of maple trees. Due to this, it has traces of calcium and other minerals which makes it a better option than regular sugar, however, caloric value and sugar are still high in maple syrup and hence should be restricted to very less quantity. It is also very expensive as compared to sugar and hence not always an economic option for many.
- Fruits – Fruits are natural sources of sugar and probably the most healthier option of all. Fruits do have a high level of fructose but with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients, fruits as a package are more consumable. However excess amounts of fructose also might have adverse effects on health. Hence too much fruit every day is also not advisable.
- Artificial sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners are synthetic products that try to mimic the taste of sugar. These products do not have high calories like sugar hence are considered as an alternative to sugar for weight loss like reasons. Even if they are approved by the FDA, few studies claim long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners can impair glucose regulation and lead to insulin resistance by altering the gut microbiota. Few well known artificial sweeteners are :
- Natural sweeteners – These are those sweeteners that are found in nature. These are low in calories and fructose, and taste very sweet. They are relatively safer to consume as sugar alternatives but do have some after taste. Few well known natural sweeteners are :
- Monk fruit sweetener
Sugar has made its way into our lives through various forms and sometimes it might be challenging to identify how much sugar we are consuming unknowingly. It is obvious to avoid sweets, sodas, beverages but there are also some hidden sugars in many food items that we need to be aware of.
Where Is Sugar Sneaking Into Your Diet From?
- Favored food – Flavored milk, yogurts, etc, might be attractive due to protein, calcium-rich ingredients with fruit flavors in them but check for the sugars as well. The artificial essence used for flavor is bitter in taste. A lot of sugar is added to get rid of this bitter taste. Your favorite malt-based powders which make big promises to make milk rich in nutrients also might have added sugars.
- Sauces, dressings – Pasta sauce, tomato ketchup, salad dressing are mostly loaded with sugars. Even if you consume a small quantity of these thinking they are savory and not sweet, they might add substantial sugar to your day.
- Breakfast cereals, granola bars – These might sound like healthy food options, but one has to confirm this by reading labels correctly. Few bars might have as much as 8 to 12 grams of sugar which is more than the 2 spoons of sugar in your tea that you had a hard time letting go.
- Energy drinks – Energy drinks are popular for super fast hydration. But many of these drinks have lots of sugar along with caffeine. Some energy drinks have about 25 grams of sugars per serving. Switching to simple water is definitely the best option.
- Dried fruit – These seem easy and healthy options in the modern busy life, but hidden sugars in them raise the flag to consume them in strict moderation. Resins, dried mango, pineapple, etc mostly have added sugars to make them tastier.
- Sugarfree snacks – Sugarfree sounds like a great idea to enjoy your favorite sweets without adding sugar, but artificial sugar substitutes are even worse for your health. They might cause digestive issues and also trigger the insulin response. It is better to avoid consuming products with
How To Quit Sugar Addiction?
Even knowing how bad sugar can be for you, it might not be as easy as it sounds to reduce sugar completely suddenly. It might induce headaches, irritability, fatigue, dizziness in some people. However, there are simple steps to quit sugar for good and feel great with a healthy and balanced lifestyle forever.
- Read labels – Read the labels carefully to check ingredients before buying food items. Read carefully if the food has added sweeteners, corn syrup any other sweetening agents. Look out for the following additives which don’t spell as “sugar” but still are bad.
- High fructose corn syrup
- Concentrated fruit or vegetable juices like grape juice.
- Make adjustments – Sure it is not a crime to enjoy your favorite sweet in moderation once in a while. Make some adjustments and let go of sugars from other items to balance the day.
- Choose better – Sugar is not that bad especially if it comes from sources like fresh fruits, packed with other important nutrients. Indulge in berries, banana, apple, kiwi, oranges but restrict it to one serving a day. Eat whole fruit avoid juices.
- Cook at home – With home-cooked meals you are sure of all ingredients that go on your plate. This is the best way to stop sugars from sneaking in.
- Plan for healthy snacks – Keep healthy alternatives ready. Pure dark chocolate is one such alternative that can suppress the sweet craving
- Change mindset – Sugar activates the reward area in the brain, giving us that feel-good factor. One has to train the mind from “I will live a healthy life|” and feel good about it instead of grabbing a donut to get the same feeling.
- Drink – Drink a lot of water and only pure water. Say no to sodas, juice, etc. If you really need flavor add a leaf of mint and a slice of lemon but avoid sugar or honey. Limit alcohol since the mixing agents or chasers might be sugary as well.
While growing old is inevitable, aging of your skin can be delayed to some extend. Healthy food is probably the most important thing to avoid premature aging. Making some adjustments like quitting sugar can not just delay skin aging but also might protect you from many diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, obesity. So start today and quit the sugar addiction for a better, healthier tomorrow.