SUGAR: THE NEMESIS OF OUR WAISTLINE AND SKIN!
I recently watched "That Sugar Film" - HOLY MOLY is all I can say!
If you haven't heard about the film the synopsis is:
"That Sugar Film" is one man's journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as 'healthy'. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. "That Sugar Film" will forever change the way you think about 'healthy' food."
I was the 'health food eater' - desperately trying to shed the 7kg+ that I gained when I moved to the sunny desert. However, in March this year I was advised to stop eating 'low fat' foods, dramatically reduce my carbohydrates intake, drink less fresh juices (I loved a juicer), and cut out the 'odd' desert whilst at the same time to increasing the amount of protein I ate. Since then, with very little effort I have literally seen inches fall off my body!
Until I watched the film I didn't realise I was consuming so much hidden sugar and after watching it I started to think about how all this sugar might be affecting our skin and thwarting our anti-ageing efforts.
Sugar and YOUR Skin
Unfortunately, sugar is not only a disaster for your waistline but, in all of its forms, it is also extremely damaging to our skin. It quite literally is Collagen's Natural Enemy!
But why?When you eat sugar and other high-glycemic carbohydrates (breads, starches, potatoes, baked goods, pastas, desserts, soda) your body converts the sugar to glucose. This is all completely fine as we need glucose, it's the main source of fuel for your body. However, when you have to much in your body a reaction called Glycation occurs.
This means that excess sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins to form harmful new molecules called Advanced Glycation End products (appropriately AGEs for short). At the point of attachment, inflammation occurs and produces enzymes that reduces the effectiveness of your elastin and collagen (the proteins in your skin that gives it a younger plump look). The quality of your collagen is reduced and it becomes more brittle. Consequently, your skin breaks down and looks thinner and more wrinkly.
Added to this AGEs also deactivate your body's natural antioxidant enzymes so your skin is left more vulnerable to sun damage (still the main cause of skin ageing) and is less able to repair itself from normal damage.
A study of 600 men and women found that those with higher blood sugar levels consistently looked older than those with lower blood sugar. For every extra 180g of glucose per litre of blood, their estimated age rose by five months.
What can you do to prevent this damage?
Dr Aamer Khan, Medical director of the Harley Street Skin Clinic and cosmetic dermatologist says 'There is no point in spending lots of money on expensive anti-ageing skin creams if you are eating a diet high in sugar. Yes, you can protect and moisturise your skin from the outside with creams, but you need to feed and stimulate the growth of good strong skin cells from inside too'
While glycation can’t be completely stopped it can be slowed by consuming less or no sugar(!) and following an anti-inflammatory diet.
But it's not easy to just stop eating sugar - it's everywhere and in, it seems, everything plus it's said to be just as addictive as cocaine! The thing to do is buy predominantly fresh produce and become aware of what you're eating by reading labels and making informed decisions about what you are putting in your mouth.
Sugar masquerades under a variety of complicated scientific sounding names but one of the easiest ways to recognisie it is by looking out for the -ose suffix: Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose, Lactose, High fructose corn syrup, Glucose solids
There are plenty of other names, as well, that may or may not sound like sugar: Cane juice, Dehydrated cane juice, Cane juice solids, Cane juice crystals, Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Dextran, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Caramel, Buttered syrup, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Date sugar, Malt syrup, Diatase, Diatastic malt, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Dehydrated fruit juice, Fruit juice crystals, Golden syrup, Turbinado, Sorghum syrup, Refiner's syrup, Ethyl maltol, Maple syrup, Yellow sugar
It is important to note that whilst fruits are high in sugars (sucrose and fructose), high fibre content helps them rank surprisingly low on the “glycemic index”, which measures the impact of foods on blood sugar levels. Fruits are also high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients (beneficial plant chemicals), which are typically concentrated in the skins or peels. Research has shown that consuming strawberries, blackberries, loganberries and apple peels can “turn off” key genetic switches that promote inflammation in the body. This is the reason why drinking fresh juices isn't ideal but smoothies are good! Juicing takes out all of the fibre and anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit leaving your with a massive sugar hit whilst smoothies leave all the goodness behind.
And, (my love) Chocolate we all know is a sugary treat. However, it is also rich in oleic acid, the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil and avocados (see my previous blog post about avocados) which helps us to absorb important nutrients. The presence of this healthy fat also helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar. Also a chemical in cocoa protects skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure and prevents the skin from ageing. But for optimum health benefits please make sue you choose extra dark chocolate—at least 70 to 85% cocoa content.
Good Foods to Eat to combat the damage done by sugar?
- Omega 3 and protein to rebuild damaged cells e.g. Oily fish, Chai seeds, Nuts, Flaxseeds
- Anti-inflammatories to counteract the AGEs - Berries, Ginger, Turmeric, Pineapple, Leafy Greens, Beets, Avocados
- Monounsaturated fat to help absorb nutrients from other foods - Avocado, Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil
- Vitamin C to build collagen - Peppers, Guavas, Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (Kale/ spinach), Kiwi, Broccoli, Berries, Citrus Fruits (Oranges), Tomatoes (Cooked), Peas (Mange Tout), Papaya
Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict with Watercress Beetroot and Avocado
My friend Rich's company Seafood and Eat it sells the most incredible hand picked Cornish crab and Spinneys have recently started stocking it - whoop whoop! I was really excited about having super tasty crab for my breakfast as, its high in omega 3, high in protein and this recipe is brilliant as nothing in it takes away from the amazing taste of the crab.
Added to this, watercress is an excellent health booster and detox food as it is packed with vital nutrients including vitamin B, C and E and works as blood purifier due to its natural diuretic properties. Beetroot and Avocado are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties and also provide the monounsaturated fats elements too.
All in all Yum..
Crab Cakes Ingredients (Makes 2 cakes)
100g of Seafood and Eat it 50/50 crab meat
1 tbs mayo - preferably homemade to avoid the hidden sugar in the shop brought stuff
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1 tsp minced chives
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of Black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted butter, skip the added salt)
2 Eggs for poaching
Big Handful of Watercress
1/2 cup of cubed fresh Beetroot
1. Make the Hollandaise Sauce - I remember having to make this over and over again at cookery school so now I use an easy blender method
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
3. Add all the crab cake ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
4. Make small “cakes” by using a ring or by forming them into small patties.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops start to turn a light golden brown.
6. While the crab cakes are cooking, put together the watercress, beetroot and avocado
7. Serve with the poached eggs, scummy crab cakes and silky hollandaise sauce
Enjoy and let me know what you think.