Sugar, in its many guises, is the number-one source of calories in the American diet. It’s found in everything from soda to pudding to ketchup. And while it’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, you may not know that sugar also speeds up your body’s aging process.
Sugar can disrupt your hormones. Sugar can wreak havoc on your hormones, causing acne, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Because sugar is metabolized quickly in the body, it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. And cortisol suppresses your thyroid function, and your thyroid controls metabolism.
“There are dozens of names you might find in the ingredients list that really just mean sugar. The USDA lists the following as alternate names for added sugars recognized by the FDA: anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, confectioner’s powder sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrose, fructose, hight-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, nectars, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar, white granulated sugar; other names not recognized by the FDA include: cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar,” explains David Zinczenko, author of Zero Sugar Diet.
While scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes wrinkles, one theory suggests that sugar molecules damage collagen and elastin, two proteins in the skin that keep it looking firm and young. The aging process, combined with sugar consumption, leads to wrinkles.
Once sugar molecules enter the skin, they are metabolized by glycation or the formation of sugar-protein crosslinks. As these crosslinks bind to collagen and elastin, the protein chains become stiff and inflexible. Over time, as repeated degradation occurs, these bonds become irreversible.
Sugar also reduces the production of collagen and elastin. Research has found that when cells consume sugar rather than glucose, they express genes that encourage cell death. Collagen and elastin are produced by cells, so consuming sugar directly limits the production of these proteins. And when collagen and elastin die, wrinkles appear.