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Research shows an excessive level of sugar is the leading cause of wrinkles, sagging skin and a loss of skin radiance.

"Sugar hastens the degradation of elastin and collagen, both key skin proteins," according to Dr Fredric Brandt, a leading American dermatologist.

In the 1990s scientists established the link between premature skin ageing and eating excessive amounts of sugar.

Sugar molecules attach themselves to collagen and elastin in a process called glycation. This causes the protein molecules in your skin to become stiff and makes it difficult for skin cells to repair.

They form advanced glycation end products called AGEs and skin tissue then loses its plump elasticity and youthfulness. This is further aggravated by sun damage or cigarette smoking.

When the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated last year that each Australian consumed 43.4kg of sugar each year, compared with the world average of 21kg it became obvious that Australians were probably ageing faster than the rest of the world.

Physically active people in their 20s and 30s have a better chance of "burning off" the harmful effects of glycation than those of sedentary people over 40.

Detox diets where sugar is eliminated usually result in better energy levels and improved skin tone - high levels of sugar create fatigue and decrease skin repair.

Our dietary dilemma is compounded by the fact that all carbohydrates, whether from sugar, fruit, vegetables, cereal grains, nuts, seeds, pulses or alcohol convert to sugars in our digestive systems.

The best way to control sugars is to focus on avoiding refined sugar and carbohydrate products and concentrate on slowing the digestion of complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, wholegrains, raw nuts and seeds and fruit.

Sadly, sugars are hidden in a huge variety of foods - breakfast cereals, white bread, flavoured yoghurt, tomato sauce, sports drinks and muesli bars, to name a few.

Green tea, pomegranates, vitamin C and vitamin A, coenzyme Q10, cold-pressed oils and evening primrose oil help to repair skin.

The West Australian

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