sugary delights

Who does not like to indulge in a delicious crème Brule or a mint-crème frosted mini cupcake? Emotionally therapeutic effects of sumptuous treats aside, Fashionlines has bad news for everyone with a sweet-tooth. Recent research shows that sugar speeds up the aging process. So put down the milk chocolate toffee-almond bar and keep reading...

If a diet is comprised of starchy meals rich in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, cookies, sweets, and sodas, the foods consumed are instantly converted to glucose in the blood stream. This process triggers the “glycation” reaction which leads excess sugar molecules to latch onto collagen fibers. Contaminated collagen in the body loses strength and flexibility. Consequently, skin looses elasticity and its resistance to the harmful rays of the sun diminishes. Sugar and starch might also interact with cells to produce harmful byproducts otherwise known as advanced glycation. In this case the cells, collagen and elastin suffer maximum damage.

Most experts agree that only excessive sugar consumption triggers the aforementioned processes. Conversely, Nicholas Perricone, the Yale dermatologist famed for his salmon diet, argues that the parallels between sweets and aging are undeniable. Perricone believes all sugar and starch intake (irrespective of amount) cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. This jump invariably leads to glycation. The key to reducing this reaction is consuming simple carbohydrates only after eating a serving of protein. Therefore, if you are having cravings for syrupy treats, indulge in fruits in stead of chocolate bonbons and tiramisu. The fibers in fruits slow down the absorption of glucose. This in turn keeps the blood sugar level steady, bypassing the desire to keep eating sweets caused by the dreaded spike.


Indeed axing sugar and starch from your diet can make a tremendous difference in the long run. All processed foods are metabolized at lightning speed, while fibers and proteins make the body work vigorously to extract energy, vitamins and minerals. Some warn against consuming more than 6-10 tablespoons of sugar. (Guess how many tablespoons of sugar a can of Coca-Cola Classic contains?) In order to keep tabs on how much glucose you are ingesting on a given day always read food labels. The sugar content is indicated under the “total carbohydrates” heading.


Now that natural sugar is out of limits, don’t go wild for substitutes. While artificial sweetners do not cause radical fluctuations in blood sugar, their long term effects on the body are yet to be determined. Natural alternatives are always safer and healthier bets. Additionally, beware of low fat options. Though their fat content might be low there are no guarantees about how much sugar and calories they contain. Ironically fat needs to be an integral part of a healthy diet as it takes a long time to be processed by the body. Perricone even advises eating a scoop of natural ice-cream (no additives and no saccharine) after meals on some days. Having a full stomach ensures that the sugar is metabolized slowly. So cast aside all boxes, packages, cans and tubes filled with processed, artificially sweetened foods packed with preservatives. Natural is good. Healthy is beautiful.

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