Kicking the sugar habit is no easy task. Researchers at Yale University conducted an experiment in which they showed participants the images of milk shakes and then conducted MRI brain scans. They found that the same reward circuits were activated in the brains of these participants as were activated in those of addicts craving drugs or alcohol. “Sweet surrender” triggers the brain’s pleasure circuits but can also put the brakes on skin’s healthy development.
Too much dietary sugar is unhealthy, especially for skin. Glycation is the process where excess sugar combines with skin proteins, such as collagen, to produce toxic sugars. These products lead to aberrant protein crosslinking, wrinkles, oxidative stress, loss of radiance, and the appearance of aging. Anti-skin aging cosmetics with anti-glycation ingredients such as Supplamine® in the MEG 21 skincare line, help to fight the effects of glycation. Dietary changes to decrease foods with added sugar also help to fight glycation. According to the American Heart Association, the suggested maximum amount of added dietary sugar for adults is 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. Awareness of how much sugar is in our diet is an important first step, but it requires some detective work.
Alternative Names for Sugar.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that manufactured foods have a nutrition label that lists ingredients from the most to least abundant, by weight. You would think this provides an easy way to identify high-sugar foods, right? Not really: There are more than 50 names for various forms of sugars including: corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose or crystal dextrose, trehalose, fructose, maltose, lactose, sucrose, glucose, evaporated cane juice or fruit juice, caramel, carob syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, honey, dextrin and maltodextrin rice syrup, molasses, evaporated corn sweetener, turbinado sugar, confectioner’s powdered sugar, invert sugar, and other fruit nectars/concentrates. Although informative, a label ingredient list can be deceptive. Manufacturers can disguise added sugar content by using multiple sweeteners so that individual added sugars may be present in small quantities, but when added together they make up a significant portion of the product.
Retrain Your Tastebuds.
The easiest way to decrease added dietary sugar is to replace sugary beverages with plain water and drink coffee or tea without added sugar. One 12-ounce can of soda can have 39 grams of added sugar, and a 16-ounce serving of a flavored coffee can have more than 60 grams of added sugar. That’s more than twice the recommended daily maximum of added sugar for women! Some non-dairy creamers–especially the flavored kinds–and the optional flavor syrups for coffee have added sugar. If you gradually cut back on the amount of added sugar to these beverages, you’ll grow to appreciate their complex and subtle flavors rather than being overpowered with sweetness. Artificial sweeteners are an alternative, but the goal is to get your taste buds and brain accustomed to less sweet beverages.
It’s no surprise that sugar is an ingredient in cakes, cookies, and ice cream, but added sugar is present in more than 70 percent of prepared foods from the typical grocery store. Some unexpected foods that contain added sugar are condiments–ketchup, teriyaki and barbecue sauce, salad dressing; other foods include soup, spaghetti sauce, flavored yogurt, and granola. Alternatives to sweetened condiments are salsa, mustard, hot sauce or homemade oil and vinegar salad dressing. Instead of purchasing prepared flavored yogurt, start with unflavored yogurt and add seasonal fresh fruit or vanilla flavoring. Although dried fruit and granola bars sound like healthy choices, sugar is often an added ingredient. The term ‘fat free’ on prepared foods should be an alert to look for added sugar, which is a favorite way to make up for the loss of taste and pleasing texture that comes with the full fat versions of products.
A skin care regimen with MEG 21 with Supplamine® products will work to keep your skin looking healthy and radiant. And in terms of food consumption that supports healthy skin, become a sugar sleuth. Read ingredient labels, avoid the sugar packets and enjoy more fresh fruit to satisfy a craving for sweetness, your skin will reward you too.