Easter, and the inevitable sugar rush. While the occasional treat is relatively harmless, recent evidence shows that there’s more reason than ever to resist temptation and step-up your dietary habits.
According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), the average Briton consumes 154 teaspoons of sugar a week, much of which is hidden in savoury food and alcohol. Indeed, this highly addictive white powder has been shown to trigger stronger cravings than cocaine*. The link between sugar and obesity has been well documented in the media, but what’s less obvious is the effect it has on skin.
Sugar reacts with collagen and other proteins in a process known as glycation, creating Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) which alter our cells’ biological and structural roles. AGEs have been shown to cause inflammation and free radical damage all over the body. Over time these modified proteins damage DNA and destroy collagen and elastin, accelerating the signs of ageing. AGEs are also potent photosensitisers which means that skin is even more susceptible to photo damage.
“When we’re young it’s easier for our bodies to fight AGEs but as we age it gets more difficult”, says Tracy Tamaris, our Director of Education. “Using products containing active ingredients that stimulate collagen and elastin, such as Vitamins A and C and peptides go a long way to combat their ill effects. Regular collagen stimulating treatments such as Active Vitamin and Collagen Power Facials and CST will ensure that fibroblast cells produce healthy, normal collagen and elastin and prevent the typical signs of ageing.”
Several studies corroborate the link between sugar and appearance. In one experiment, scientists from the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Unilever in the UK, measured the blood sugar levels of 600 people aged between 50 and 70†. They then showed photographs of these people to a board of 60 independent assessors and found that those who had high blood sugar looked older than those who hadn’t. In fact for every 1mm/litre increase in blood sugar, the perceived age of that person rose by five months. Diabetics in the group looked the oldest because of their higher blood sugar level.
EXPERT COMMENT - LORRAINE PERRETTA
“It’s important to include nutrients that help to stimulate collagen synthesis”, says Lorraine Perretta, our Head of Nutrition. “Drinking plenty of green tea or taking a supplement containing it, can help. It’s found in our Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Antioxidant supplement. Also, vitamins A and C will help your body to make new collagen, to replace the collagen damaged by glycation, giving the skin a healthier, more youthful appearance.’
Tips for your clients
There is little point in your clients devoting time and money to extensive topical skincare regimes if they’re going to sabotage the results by eating a diet high in sugar.
- Advise them to cut down on sugar – even refined carbohydrates like white flour, rice and pasta should be reduced because the body converts them into sugar.
- Make sure they feed their skin with the right nutrients to help combat the effects of glycation. Fruit and vegetables provide protective antioxidants.