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Sugar, Inflammation, Acne & Aging

Cool It With The Cookies! How Sugar & Inflammation Can Be A Recipe For Bad Skin

January 22, 2013

As a grown-up, I feel like I’ve earned the right to eat sweets. And eat as much of it as I want! But as someone who’s very mindful of skincare, I must exercise a little bit of restraint when it comes to sweet indulgences. In fact, reducing sugar intake happens to be one of my three new year resolutions. And this is an elaboration as to why.

The unhappy bottom line is this: a diet high in sugar is going to make you wrinklier faster and make you more prone to having pimply breakouts. 

When sugary foods, otherwise known as high-glycemic foods, are broken down in the body, they are quickly converted into glucose. This rapid surge of glucose in the blood is met with a surge of insulin and simultaneously signals the immune system to release pro-inflammatory compounds.

Inflammation & Acne

Many dermatologists would agree that the cause of acne is a complex interaction of changing hormones, clogged pores, excessive sebum, overgrowth of normally harmless bacteria and inflammation. However, many of these same dermatologists would also shrug off the link between diet and acne for lack of scientific evidence. But to me, it’s baffling how one could deny this existing connection between what we eat and inflammation.

So what exactly is inflammation? When you’re sick or injured, inflammation occurs as a result of your body trying to heal itself. This is known as acute inflammation, a response that is brief and lasts only several days. Inflammation is supposed to be a short burst of activity in your immune system. But when inflammation becomes chronic, meaning that it just hangs around and doesn’t go anywhere, it can cause gradual damage to the body and lead to a variety of diseases.

How Does Inflammation Cause Acne? 

Although there are many factors that can contribute to the formation of acne, the two main culprits are hormones and inflammation. A hormone imbalance can result in excess production of sebum (the skin’s natural oils) and excessive skin cell growth, which in turn can block pores.

Enter P. Acnes bacteria, the anaerobic bacteria that is known to trigger acne. In fact, this bacteria is usually present on our skin and pose no problems. But inflammation can cause oxidation changes in sebum and lower its oxygen content, thus giving the P. Acnes bacteria a more suitable environment to thrive and multiply.

Research shows that the initial key that triggers acne formation process is not the bacteria, but rather the oxidative damage to sebum caused by inflammation.

Sugar & Aging

Even if you’re lucky enough to have smooth, acne-free skin, it is still important to reduce your sugar intake. High amounts of sugar in the diet increase advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs, which is a protein that binds to glucose molecules and can damage collagen and elastin, the proteins that give skin its plump and youthful structure (Read: Sugar and Aging, How To Fight Glycation).

Modifying Our Diet (Just A Little)

The fact is, we can’t completely eliminate sugar from our diet. And it would be silly to try! After all, glucose is also present in many healthy foods. All carbs eventually get converted into glucose, so the best thing we can do is opt for low-glycemic foods which releases glucose in a slower and more manageable way.

Examples of foods to heap up on are whole grains like brown rice, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and fruits that are low in sugar but high in antioxidants like berries. Also, good fats such as those found in avocado, nuts and fish are anti-inflammatory and very good at keeping the skin healthy and glowing.

In the end, if you really MUST get your sugar fix, the key is moderation in conjunction to a diet that’s abundant with wholesome nutritious foods. When enjoyed this way, a bit of dark chocolate or a slice of cake from time to time won’t hurt you. And can actually be very good for the soul!

Sugar, Inflammation, Acne & Aging

 Enjoy! In Mindful Moderation

My Top Three Beauty Resolutions For 2013

December 31, 2012

When it comes to habits that could improve my life, I could write pages and pages of things that I need to do  in 2013. But this wouldn’t actually be a very effective way of getting things done. Nope, nope. The best way to actually Get Things Done!… is to just pick a few things. And then focus on them.

I practice this simple habit on an everyday basis: I pick three important things I need to do. I write them down. And I do them. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get anything else done. It just means that I keep my focus on these three things that are most important to me.

I also pick out my New Year resolutions in this same way. But this year is going to be a different. In addition to picking out three new New Year resolutions as I normally do, I am also making a separate set of resolutions!!

These resolutions revolve around the themes of Beauty and improving my overall physical well-being.

So here they are!

1.) Improving Posture.

This one’s tough! I say this because it’s something I’ve been working on for a while now, admittedly in a haphazard manner. As a person who stands at a looming 4’11, having better posture for me could mean gaining one more inch to my height! Which could mean breaking into the world of 5′ tall people. Hah, finally!

Seriously though, having good posture is so important for beauty and health. This is true for anyone, man or woman. Because having better posture not only makes you look younger and more confident, it will actually make you feel it too. And over time, it will help to avoid back complications. So improving posture is first on my list.

2.) Decreasing Sugar Intake.

Sugar is killing me. Sweetly and silently. I’m not just talking about the sugar crashes and my highly fluctuating waistline. I’m saying that when sugar is broken down in my body through the process of glycation, it causes inflammation and creates free radicals–making me age faster and more susceptible to diseases like cancer.

Although I can’t completely cut sugar out of my life (come on, let’s be serious), I am going to do my DARNDEST to cut down on the refined sugar that comes from breads, cakes and pastries. And if you’ve ever been to France and walked into one of their bakeries, then you already know the ridiculously unfair battle that I have in front of me.

3.) Hair Care For This Bear. 

All year long, I’ve been chirping skincare, skincare, skincare! In the meantime, my hair has become a frizzy,  flipping, flying in your face case of neglect. So for 2013, I resolve to take better care of my hair.

This will mostly mean eating more nutritiously. Because as I have chirped time and time again on this blog–your beauty is what you eat! But also, I am going to start incorporating new things in my hair care routine, such as masks and oil treatments.

So. Will I make good on these resolutions? Stick around to find out. I will be reporting on my progress throughout the year.

What about you, what are your Beauty and Health related New Year resolutions?