You’ve probably heard by now that too much sugar is bad for your teeth, your waistline, and even your mood. But did you know that sugar could be behind your breakouts and wrinkles? Your skincare routine and stress certainly factor into the quality of your complexion. But what you consume affects your skin more than you might think.
Here's how sugar may affect your skin.
How Sugar Affects your Skin
Sugar causes a process called glycation. In layman's terms, it means when the sugar digests, it attaches to your skin's collagen. Collagen is a structural protein that makes your skin stretchy and bouncy—qualities associated with a youthful, refreshed appearance.
As you probably know, when you eat sugar, it goes right to your bloodstream. When glucose (sugar in your blood) attaches to proteins, it becomes a free radical called AGE, which stands for advanced glycation end products. The more sugar you consume, the more AGEs you have, which over time chips away at proteins, including collagen.
If you consume too much sugar, here's what it might to do to your skin.
Sugar Could Make Inflammatory Skin Conditions Worse
If you already suffer from certain skin conditions, like eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, eating sugar could make them worse. This is because sugar in your bloodstream can contribute to inflammation, and each of these skin conditions is rooted in inflammation.
Is cutting sugar a cure for inflammatory skin conditions? The short answer is, it’s complicated. Some people see improvement from reducing or eliminating sugar, while others have a lot of factors contributing to their condition. One thing is for sure though, eating a lot of sugar isn’t going to help matters.
Sugar May Worsen your Acne
Increased inflammation could also contribute to acne breakouts. This includes whiteheads, blackheads, and the larger painful zits deep below the surface.
In addition, sugar could lead to hormone disruption which is sometimes associated wtih more oil production, and oily skin could lead to breakouts.
Could Sugar Age your Skin Faster?
Everybody's skin ages naturally, but it can age faster when you don't feed your body the right foods. Sugar one of the main culprits when it comes to premature aging. Because sugar is able to break down collagen, your skin might start to appear saggy and wrinkled earlier if you eat a lot of sugar. Collagen is what keeps your skin looking firm and taut.
What you can Do to Decrease the Effects of Sugar on your Skin
Fortunately, you are in control of how sugar affects your skin. Here are some quick tips to help keep your sugar consumption in check.
Many foods have added sugars that you wouldn't even consider. Pasta sauce, salad dressing, and granola bars are just a few examples. Don't fall for the labeling that says they are 'healthy' or 'low fat.' Instead, read the labels and look for words like barley malt, maltodextrin, and high fructose corn syrup. These are all hidden sugars.
Eat Natural Foods
Skip the prepackaged foods and opt for all-natural foods. Shop the store's perimeter and buy only fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. Don't eat any convenience foods, or if you do, keep them to a minimum, balancing them with healthy foods for the rest of the day.
You can get sweet treats that are naturally sweetened without sugar here.
Drink Your Water
Skip the sugary juices and sodas and instead drink water. If you need a little flavor, drink teas, but only from tea bags, not prepared teas, as they usually have added sugar. To add a hint of sweetness, try a squeeze of lemon and monk fruit drops to sweeten.
Get a Lot of Sleep
Aim fo adequate sleep, at least 6–8 hours each night. This is could help you balance your hormones, which may decrease the stress hormone cortisol. If your body has too much cortisol, it stores more sugar, which leads to more acne and wrinkles.
Seek Out Antioxidant Foods
Eat foods that fight free radicals, such as leafy greens, berries, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, beans, and cabbage. Antioxidants stop sugar from attaching to your collagen, which means they could help fight acne and wrinkles.
Whether skin is a concern or not, it's probably time to cut down on the amount of sugar you eat. It's not as hard as you think. Look at your diet and catch the hidden sugars, cut out sugary drinks, consume more water, and increase your antioxidant intake. You can try a 30-day no sugar challenge here.
Make sure you get enough sleep and, of course, exercise. This could help lower your body's inflammation, which helps your skin look and feel its best. Your skin is your body's largest organ, so anything you put in your body affects it. So take care of your skin starting now, and you'll see an improvement faster than you think.