Sugar Alert – Skin Jeopardy


By Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.

A strong possibility from eating too much processed sugar is that doing so will cause the skin to become dull and wrinkled.  Science labels this condition as ‘advanced glycation end-products’, or a shorter term called AGEs.  Glycation results from excessive blood sugar that attaches to proteins and thereby forms harmful new molecules, better known as AGEs.

Constant processed sugar consumption will bring about this condition around 35 years of age and continue over time.  Fortunately, reducing and eliminating all processed sugar in the diet is paramount for healthy skin.  Also, food containing antioxidants serve as free-radical fighters help to keep excessive blood sugar from attaching to proteins.  The skin loves antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, cranberries, walnuts, and red bell peppers.

The American Heart Association shared last year their nutritional recommendation of no more than 6 teaspoons for a woman and 9 teaspoons for a man per day.  In general, the basic recommendations are to keep added sugar to no more than 10% of total daily calories.  For example, a 35 year young woman, 5’-4” tall, would see 10% (160 daily calories) from added sugar from 10 teaspoons of processed sugar or just six Hershey Kisses.

Many prepared foods contain hefty amounts of processed sugar, but the label sometimes will mask it under alias titles like barley malt, corn syrup,  dextrose,  fruit juice concentrate,  maltose,  maple syrup,  molasses, and turbinado.   The product labels for processed sugars are listed in grams under total carbohydrates.

Divide that gram number by 4 to convert it to teaspoons (each teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams). [If sugars are listed as 12 grams, you are getting 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving.

It is important to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as it is believed to produce more AGEs than other types. This type of sweetener is made by changing the sugar in cornstarch to fructose to extend the shelf life of foods.  HFCS is a popular ingredient in soda, fruit-flavored drinks, and packaged foods such as breads, crackers, and other snacks because it is sweeter and cheaper.

As grateful as I am for an abundance of melanin in my system, I damaged my skin as a teen to early twenties while working everyday in the summer sun as a pool lifeguard. [Not to mention all the candy and soda consumption.]  With good grace, there remains a chance to build new collagen with skin products that contain retinoid.  By keeping new collagen supple will minimize the damage sugar causes to the skin, and wearing sunscreen is the smarter thing to do.  The best skin vitamins include a daily milligram of B1 and B6, and also helpful is to apply topical antioxidants such as green tea and vitamins C and E.

Dean L. Jones is a marketing strategist with the Southland Partnership, a public benefit corporation.  He publishes articles alerting consumers on the mismanagement of food/beverage products.