We are all well aware that sugar isn’t good for us – the reasons we try to avoid it are because it is “fattening” or rots our teeth, however the dangers of sugar go far deeper than that. Excess sugar in the blood is also very damaging on a cellular level, it doesn’t really have a nutritional value and is known as an anti-nutrient as it can stop the absorption of certain vitamins.
Increased blood sugar causes a number of chemical reactions in the body which results in Inflammation – this can easily escalate out of control, Inflammation is the basis of virtually every disease process from cancer, heart disease, joint problems and dementia. Sugar also slows down our immune response, which means we are less able to fight off infections.
Skin problems, such as Acne, Eczema and Skin Ageing can be triggered by inflammation in the body. The problems arise when we have excess sugar in our body, the sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins – remember that proteins are the basic structures of skin, blood vessels and many other parts of our body. This process is know as Glycation – also known as Glycosylation, this causes not only hardening of the arteries and stiff joints, but – when sugar bonds to Collagen, the fibres become stiff and lose their elasticity leading to the loss of bounce-back. It gets worse as more Free Radical generation occurs which leads to even more damage and Inflammation – this inevitably leads to inflexible and cross-linking of Collagen, resulting in the birth of deep wrinkles and saggy skin.
We are not just talking about the sugar we put in our tea or found in biscuits, cakes and sweets. Starch and sugar are the two main types of carboyhdrates, which once digested turn into sugar in your body – so your bread, pasta and many other foods. Try to eat low GL carboyhdrates which release their energy slowly and avoid that sugar spike.
Sleep is also important, well not enough sleep really, as sleep deprivation releases a hormone called Cortisol, which pushes up blood sugar, stimulating the release of insulin, sending sugar to the cells – this can create cravings for sweet things and white bread, croissants etc.
The key is moderation, try to follow the Low Glyaemic Load way of eating and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Substitute the normal table sugar for Xylitol – this is a Low GI form of sugar from natural sources and much better for our teeth. Avoid artificial sweeteners, they can increase appetite and have some side effects.
For more information of the Low Glycaemic way of eating, read – A Guide To Youthful Nutrition