Before you reach for a dessert tonight or order a soft drink with your next meal, you may want to think again. You probably know that a diet full of sugary, processed foods leads to packing on pounds, but did you know that sugar has health effects far worse than just undesirable weight gain? Did you know that sugar ages your skin? Sugar can have many toxic effects on the body, ranging from skin damage to cancer. Here’s 5 ways sugar can leads to faster aging of your skin and immune system by expediting collagen breakdown, increasing inflammation, and more. Once you read these, you will be convinced it’s time to cut out the sugar!
1. Sugar breaks down collagen which leads to skin aging and wrinkles: There is a direct connection between sugar consumption and the breakdown of skin collagen. When we eat a lot of sugar over an extended period of time, excess glucose in the blood causes attachment of glucose to protein molecules and forms AGEs, advanced glycosylation endproducts. This causes loss of collagen strength and flexibility, leading to wrinkly, saggy skin.
2. Sugar causes inflammation throughout the body: Inflammation is our body’s defense mechanism that repairs damaged tissues and fights off bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders. Short-term inflammation is a good thing, but prolonged inflammation has damaging effects on the body and can lead to arthritis, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Many studies have shown that eating large quantities of easily digestible, high-glucose carbs (sugar) leads to oxidative stress through formation of free radicals, thereby prompting an inflammatory response throughout the body. This chronic inflammation caused by sugar can have many long-term negative health effects.
3. Sugar can cause cancer: Sugar aging skin consequences can even lead to cancer! Studies have shown that people who eat high amounts of sugar have a much higher risk of developing many different types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer. High sugar intake leads to elevated levels of insulin and unregulated cell multiplication in cancerous tissues. Additionally, science has linked chronic inflammation, often caused by excessive sugar intake, with a higher risk of cancer.
4.Sugar leads to a fatty liver: Upon ingestion, sugar is broken down into its molecular components, glucose and fructose, in the small intestine. Glucose is the energy currency readily used by all of the cells in our body, but fructose is sent to the liver to be processed. Excessive fructose is converted into fat in the liver, and the buildup of fat in the liver leads to problems throughout the entire body including weight gain, elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, also known as fatty liver.
5. Sugar weakens the immune system: Sugar has been found to weaken white blood cell activity which is the basis of our immune system. One study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria was decreased by 40% upon intake of large quantities of sugar. As we age, our immune system naturally weakens, but sugar consumption can prematurely diminish or exacerbate the weakening of our body’s defense mechanism. A weakened immune system may be the reason we see increased infection and cancer rates in older people.
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