less sugar = better skin {& a granola bar recipe}

We have been reading blog post after blog post and recipe after recipe that promise you can eat your way to better skin.  Better skin always seems like a good idea, so we turned to our favorite dermatologist, Dr. Heather Rogers for some advice.

Her advice? There is nothing magic you can eat that will give you good skin.  Bummer.  We were really hoping for a magic seed or nut or vegetable that would banish any blemish.

There is some good news (-ish).  It's not magic, but there's some new research that says eating less sugar can help slow the aging process in our skin.  "Recently, there has been a lot of press about glycation and AGE (advanced glycation end products) accumulation in our bodies and its role in aging including skin aging. The concept is that eating less high in sugar meals or meals prepared by grilling, frying may slow the glycation process in our bodies."

Glycation is your bodies attempt to deal with sugar in the system.  The majority of research comes from diabetes studies currently, but science is leaning toward the process of glycation as a cause of skin aging.

What's happening in your body is the sugar molecules hit your system and attach themselves to fats and proteins in your body.  When they do that they become advanced glycation end products or AGEs.  The AGEs are tough and unmallable.  The proteins that once made your skin soft and supple have now ganged up with sugar to make the radiance and suppleness fade.

We can't stop the process, it's happening every day all the time.  But we can slow it down. All carbs will technically be converted into sugar in the system, but healthy ones like brown rice will be converted more slowly.  Enemies like high fructose corn syrup and refined white sugar dramatically increase the rate of glycation.

For our skin, that translates to "eat less sugar."

If you're like us, we feel like we eat pretty healthy on the regular, but there are sneaky sugars hiding everywhere that get us just when we thought we were being good.  The worst offender in our pantry is granola bars.

We started on a quest to make over our granola bars a few months ago, the end result is a bar that is low in added sugars, filled with healthy add-ins, and super filling (perfect for a grab and go breakfast!)

Granola Bars

Makes 12-16 bars

 

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliced cashews

1 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded

¼ cup coconut oil

2/3 cup raw honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped pitted dates

½ cup dried blueberries

½ cup dried strawberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a 9x12 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Pour oats, coconut, and nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.  While the oats are toasting, melt together honey, oil, vanilla, and salt over low heat in a small saucepan. 

Place all dried fruit in a mixing bowl, pour toasted oat mixture in and stir to combine.  Add warm honey mixture and stir until the oats and fruit are well coated.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and press down gently.

Bake 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool overnight then cut into bars.