Hands up who wants skin as peachy soft and rosey-hued as when they were a
teen? Yup, thought so. In fact, us Brits are so obsessed with looking
younger than our years that we’re prepared to go to extreme measures to
The proof? Recent figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic
Surgeons (Baaps) showed that in 2010 more women chose to have facelifts and
eyelid surgery than liposuction or nose jobs in their pursuit of
youthful-looking skin. Ye-ouch!
But here’s the good news. You don’t need a nip/tuck to stop the clock. The
solution is much easier than that and requires a whole lot less pocket money
– simply slash the sweet stuff from your diet. Dermatologists now agree that
sugar is toxic for the skin, causing sagginess, fine lines, wrinkles and
broken blood vessels.
“Sugar and foods that are rapidly converted to sugar are potent inflammatory
agents and, consequently, are among your skin’s greatest enemies,” says Dr
Nicholas Perricone, dermatologist and anti-ageing skin guru. Why? Because
inflammation produces enzymes, which break down collagen and elastin –
proteins in skin that help keep it firm, soft and supple. This results in
producing, you guessed it, a super-sized serving of those dreaded wrinkles.
What’s more, according to Dr Aamer Khan, clinical and managing director of the
Harley Street Skin Clinic, eating lots of sugar every day means our bodies
overproduce insulin, which increases the risk of spots and weakens the tiny
blood vessels, which could in turn lead to nasty spider veins.
So put down that half-eaten packet of biscuits, hide the bottles of fizzy
drinks and move the morning muffins to one side: try this glowing-up diet
for four weeks and you’ll have sweet-as skin in no time.
Your skin-friendly plan
To keep your diet as sugar-free as possible, we’ve developed a low-sugar,
low-glycemic index (GI) diet – pretty skin-portant as low-GI foods have the
least effect on blood-sugar levels. Foods with high-GI levels cause
blood-sugar surges, resulting in a rush of hormones that can make skin dull,
spotty or inflamed. Plus, high-sugar foods don’t satisfy your hunger pangs
for long, so you’re left with a snacking habit that piles on the pounds,
giving you middle-aged spread before your time!
Each main meal should contain…
- Lean meat, chicken or fish (a portion should be the size of a deck of cards),
eggs or low-fat dairy (matchbox-sized portion). These don’t contain
carbs so don’t affect blood-sugar levels.
- One portion of low-GI carbs from the Skin Saints table (below) such as bread
(two slices), pasta, noodles or rice (serving no bigger than the size
of a tennis ball) or cereals (4-5 level tbsp) with each meal.
- One to two servings of low-GI fruit and veg. Aim for five servings in total
(Low- to medium-GI foods) Choose these..
- Granary, wholemeal, rye and stoneground breads.
- High-fibre bran cereals, natural muesli and porridge.
- All fruits and unsweetened juices (except for those listed below).
- New potatoes and veggies (except those below).
- Pasta, noodles, couscous, basmati, brown and long-grain rice, barley.
- Milk, low-fat and fat-free yoghurt and ice cream.
- Artificial sweeteners.
- Nuts and crisps (a handful).
- (A little) milk chocolate.
(High-GI foods) Skip these…
- Bagels, baguettes, white bread and rolls.
- Ready-made muesli and sugary cereals.
- Watermelon, dried fruit, canned fruit in syrup.
- All other potatoes, chips, parsnip, swede, turnip.
- White rice, canned pasta.
- Full-fat ice cream.
- Biscuits, tortilla chips.
- Honey, treacle, syrup, jam, all types of sugar.
A typical day’s skin-friendly diet
Breakfast Fruit salad made from 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 pear and 5
strawberries, with 1 pot fat-free fruit yoghurt and 2tbsp toasted oats.
Snack A handful of unsalted almonds.
Lunch Bowl of lentil soup with a sandwich made from 2 slices granary
bread with low-fat soft cheese and salad.
Snack ½ small avocado mashed with crushed garlic, lemon juice, black
pepper and Tabasco sauce, with cucumber and celery crudités.
Dinner Spaghetti Bolognese (made with extra-lean mince) with wholewheat
spaghetti and salad with low-fat dressing.
3 ways to lower the GI
1 Always cook pasta al dente – it has a lower GI than overcooked, soggy
pasta. Plus, it’s how they like it in Italy!
2 Add a little fat to bread, spuds and pasta – this lowers the GI by
slowing down the speed sugar enters the blood. Drizzle pasta with a little
olive oil or top bread with houmous.
3 Go for fruits that contain the least amount of naturally occurring
sugars – think grapefruit, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines and
PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY, SCOPE BEAUTY FOR MORE INFO ON DR KHAN, VISIT