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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eating Less Sugar May Result In Fewer Wrinkles!

This concept is not really totally news to me, as I remember years ago Ian's dad, who is now a retired doctor in Cape Town, South Africa, said to me that sugar causes inflammation in the body and literally "rusts" one (oxidation) and can lead to premature aging. Oupa has never been one for desserts or sugary anything anyway and at the time when he declined my desserts I wondered if that was some sort of bias on his part. Still years later when I began low-carbing I recalled his words and today as I'm writing this article, I recall them again. I guess he already knew. It's too bad more mainstream doctors did not warn their patients of the ills of sugar for their health and even their looks. I know for years Dr. Perricone (a dermatologist in the U.S.A. with his own line of beauty products and a proponent of healthy low-gylcemic eating) has been telling people this via T.V. and books he has written. He has sometimes been criticized for his views, but it is amazing to me how people who dare to think out of the box are most often ostracized by the masses who think alike. That is why people like Dr. Michael Eades (Protein Power Author) and Dr. Akins (when he was alive) are to be admired. For example as well, the first doctor who dared to say that doctors should scrub and wash their hands thoroughly before surgery to prevent infection was also laughed at and ridiculed!

As an aside from this article, but also of interest along these lines, when I first started low-carbing, I was impressed by the fact that the late Dr. Akins said he was always so surprised to see that often people who were on low-fat diets had very deep creases from nose to mouth. That to me seemed like an odd observation. In another excellent book of Dr. Akins, called "Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution", he wrote about omega imbalance and how trans fats in our diets contributed to omega imbalance (a thing to avoid), but he also spoke about these omega-3 oils being excellent contributors to young-looking skin. My husband says we ladies slather "fat" in creams on our faces, but how much better if that fat comes from inside from the diet, such as in the healthy omega-3's from salmon oil, primrose oil or borage seed oil (capsules containing these oils can be purchased for supplementation in the diet). Dr. Perricone, like the late Dr. Atkins, also very strongly believes in these oils for good, healthy and glowing skin. There are many other even more important health benefits to these oils, but I digress now and want to return to the crux of this article.

Sugar according to a British Medical Journal can actually contribute to dry, wrinkly and sagging skin, because of a process called glycation in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The more sugar one consumes, the more AGEs accumulate and the more damage they do. The springy collagen and elastin in the skin is what gets damaged. Sun is still the number one enemy of skin. We can avoid too much sun exposure (a little is good, too much is bad, in my opinion) and now we can avoid too much exposure to refined carbohydrates as well, another enemy of the skin.

For those of you who feel sad that damage has already occurred, there are retinol products on the market that will help rebuild collagen apparently. A dermatologist would be able to advise on that subject. I was not aware of this. What I am aware of is that there are new lasers (less damaging on the skin than the old ones) in the market that emit a light that damages the inner layers of the skin, setting up inflammation that causes new collagen to form, thus firming the skin. These effects I read last about 2 years, however, it is not an inexpensive treatment and may require more than one treatment. I read recently that I am possibly not a candidate for such a procedure, because I have an autoimmune disease. I also cannot tolerate products such as Renova which dermatologists sometimes prescribe for increasing collagen production in the skin.

In my case, the best defense is just doing things naturally and that is avoiding too much sun exposure and low-carbing. Although after about the age of 25, I was more careful about sun exposure (I got plenty growing up in Africa and spent every vacation on the beach or at the pool at home), I was still very much a sugar addict. I will be honest, even nowadays, I do "cheat" sometimes and will eat something with sugar or white flour in it, but rarely. It is usually when a friend has made a dessert for our family at a dinner party or occasionally if my husband has brought something home like brownies (I will not lie. They are good.). He should know better! (smile) I mention this because I don't want anyone to think I am somehow "perfect" with regard to low-carbing. I am very much human in that regard, but that does not mean I cheat and then throw in the towel forever and a day after an indulgence. I endeavour to remain low-carb every day as I know it is what is best for my body, but I am far from perfect and sometimes will slip up, because once a carb addict, probably always a carb addict. I almost always regret an indulgence, as it will often show up on the scale.

To avoid sugar in its various forms, nowadays it is prudent to read labels on food products. Here are some of the names sugar lurks under: glucose, maltose, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrin, starch, dextrose, sugar cane, fruit juice concentrate, turbinado, maple syrup, molasses and honey.

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