The Sugar Rush
An inevitable and familiar quick sugar-rush comes after eating foods rich in these added sugars. We all know that feeling after eating biscuits, cakes, sweets, puddings and pastries. A rapid buzz that leaves our brains craving more so that ‘one’ serving rarely feels enough. The fact that they provide few vitamins, minerals, super nutrients and fibres, means that while rich in energy (measured in calories), they give us little nutritional benefit.
In addition to the energy highs and lows, mood swings and empty extra calories that follow in their wake, the quick spikes in blood sugar can also trigger inflammation, which can dampen down our immunity, increase stress hormones and cause damage to our skin. It may seem far etched that a sugar-rich diet could make us more prone to wrinkles, but here’s how.
Sugar and Skin
Our skin is made up of three main layers. The outer layer is on display to the world and is protective and waterproof. A second layer contains sweat glands and is home to the root of our body hairs. The third layer is rich in blood vessels, fat and protein-rich structures known as collagen and elastin, which give our skin its plumpness, ‘bounce’ and elasticity.
It is in this third layer where spikes in blood sugar can cause the damage, with sugar in the blood combining with proteins to make ‘advanced glycation end products’ that then career around, damaging collagen and making skin more prone to fine lines and wrinkles.
Controlling Blood Sugar
Interestingly, strict control of blood sugar levels for four months, achieved by cutting out added sugar and refined carbohydrates, has been proven to reduce the damage to collagen by 25 per cent.
Removing sugar and refined carbohydrate from our daily diet can be tough, and you may find that you feel a sense of withdrawal when starting out on the process. Changing eating habits is never easy and it can be useful to give our bodies some extra support when doing so.
Switching to basing meals around wholegrain carbohydrates like wholemeal bread and pitta, and brown pasta and rice is an important first step. Add to this plenty of vegetables and some plant-based proteins from pulses and tofu and if you eat animal protein, some fish, eggs, dairy, and small servings of lean meat. Turn to sweet tasting fruits to give add a natural sweetness to your day and use nuts and seeds to make tasty snacks helps to complete the picture.
A Helping Hand
In addition to this balanced style of meal planning, there are times when we can benefit from a helping hand when it comes to balancing blood sugar levels, especially when starting out on the process of giving up added sugars.
Magnesium stress complex
- Magnesium: The average woman in the UK is not getting enough magnesium in the diet to meet the recommended intake. Magnesium is important for helping to regulate blood sugar and so increasing intakes may be helpful.
Contains key ingredients that help with sugar craving:
- Chromium: A trace mineral that has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels after eating, ensuring regular intakes could help in blood sugar control.
- Soluble fibre: Found in oats, apples and pears for example, psyllium is also a source of soluble fibre, which helps to balance blood sugar levels.
- Fibre: Fibre in wholegrains meanwhile, help to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. Experts are beginning to reveal how a healthy balance of gut bacteria, can impact on many areas of health, including the regulation of hormones that make us feel hungry.
- Probiotics: Adding ‘good’ or probiotic bacteria to our daily regime may help to bolster the presence of beneficial gut bacteria and enhance this process. Research is beginning to suggest that probiotic supplements may have a helpful effect on blood sugar levels.
Registered Nutritionist AFN
PG Dip Dietetics,
Associateship King's College (AKC)