From facial plastic surgery to non-surgical treatments such as injections and chemical peels, there are a number of ways you can reduce the signs of aging on your face. While cosmetic treatments are helpful when it comes to getting a more youthful look, they can only do so much. Along with seeking out treatments to help you look younger, it can help to adopt habits that reduce external causes of aging.
A few factors that can speed up aging include sun exposure, smoking, and eating a lot of sugary foods. Sugar combines with protein to produce advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs make collagen ,which is responsible for keeping your skin firm and supple, brittle and weak. As a result, your skin shows the signs of aging more quickly and more dramatically.
If your lifestyle habits don’t change, the duration of your facelift or other surgical results will be considerably shorter. Get the most from your cosmetic treatments by finding ways to cut back on sugar.
Know What to Look For
The sneaky thing about sugar is that it tends to be in places where you’d least expect it. Lots of food items available at the supermarket contain added sugar, even savory items such as salad dressing or tomato sauce. When you purchase any prepackaged, premade item, take a look at the nutrition label and the ingredient list. If you see ingredients such as "sugar," "corn syrup," or any ingredient ending in "-ose" near the top of the ingredient list, that means a food item has a lot of added sugar in it, since ingredients are listed in order. Try to choose a product that doesn’t contain sugar or that has it near the end of the ingredients list.
Go for Something Less Sweet
Cutting everything sweet out of your life in one fell swoop can be a challenge. Instead of going completely cold turkey, you can try to minimize the amount of sugar in the sweet things you eat. For example, if you love chocolate, try switching to a dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has a lot less sugar. Plus, since it has a higher amount of cocoa, it’s more likely to satisfy your craving for chocolate more quickly.
If you usually drink sweetened soda, try switching to unsweetened, flavored seltzer. Alternatively, you can take baby steps and switch from sugary soda to a mix of half sweetened soda and half plain seltzer or half juice and half seltzer.
Bring Balance to Your Diet
Eating a balanced diet isn’t only good for the health of your skin. It can also cut down on the amount of sugar you eat and the amount of sugar you crave. Eating sugary foods causes your blood sugar levels to spike, then fall rapidly, so that you feel hungry more often. But, if you trade simple carbohydrates and sugary treats for foods that contain protein, fat and fiber, you’ll stay full longer and your blood sugar levels will even out.
Try Other Flavors
Adding flavors to your food that make you think of sugar and sweetness, but that don’t actually contain sugar, is another way you can cut back on the amount of sugar in your diet. For example, instead of adding a spoonful of sugar to your morning coffee, try enjoying a hazelnut or vanilla flavored coffee. The vanilla or hazelnut flavor will add sweetness, but no sugar. Just make sure you pick a coffee that’s flavored, not a coffee with an added shot of vanilla or hazelnut syrup, which do contain sugar.
Be Careful About Fruit
Fruit can be tricky. On the one hand, it’s a good source of vitamins and antioxidants, which can help your skin look youthful. On the other hand, it’s high in sugar, and your body doesn’t discriminate against "good" sugar or "bad" sugar when it comes to the production of AGEs.
You don’t have to cut fruit out of your diet, since it does have so many benefits. But, you do want to make sure you’re not going overboard. Try to enjoy a serving or two of whole fruit each day. You might as well cut fruit juice out, since it doesn’t contain fiber and will cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
If you have more questions about the role sugar plays when it comes to the aging process, or about ways you can improve your diet and cut back on sugar, reach out to Dr. Jessica Kulak, an aging face specialist at the Naderi Center in Virginia and Maryland. For an appointment with Dr. Kulak in Virginia, call (703) 481-0002. For an appointment at the practice in Maryland, call (301) 222-2020 today.