Sugar contributes to premature aging, just as cigarettes and UV rays do. When skin support structures collagen and elastin break down from the sun or other free-radical exposure, cells try to repair themselves. But this process slows down with age. And when sugar is present in the skin, it forms cross-links with amino acids that may have been damaged by free radicals. These cross-links jam the repair mechanism, and over time, leave you with prematurely old-looking skin.
THE FIX: Once cross-links form, they won’t unhitch, so keep sugar intake as close to zero as you can. “It’s the enemy, ” says William Danby, MD, a dermatologist with Dartmouth’s medical school in New Hampshire. Avoid soda and processed pastries, and trade sugar packets for cinnamon–it seems to slow down cross-linking, as do cloves, ginger, and garlic.
–Marie Claire (July 2012)