How Does Sugar Affect Skin?

The Effects Of Too Much Sugar On Your Skin

It may not seem obvious how a high sugar intake can affect skin health, so if you enjoy sugary foods or processed foods, you may like to know just what is happening below the surface of your skin.

Sugars like Glucose and Fructose bind with Collagen in a process called Glycation, preventing your skin structure from performing optimally. Glycation also produces free radicals which speed up the aging process!

Research has also shown that high blood sugar leads to impaired skin barrier function. Insulin spikes caused by eating too much sugar are stressful to the body, causing more collagen and elastin to break down. Blood sugar spikes can also affect hormone production and lead to higher sebum production.

So if you want to help your body's natural collagen and elastin production, reducing an excessive sugar intake can go a long way in boosting your skin health.

What Are The Signs Of ‘Sugar Face’?

  • Due to collagen degradation skin will start to look thinner. Fine lines will also become more prominent. Visible signs of premature aging and sagging skin are more likely.
  • Skin will start to look more dehydrated as your skin barrier is impaired
  • Skin is more inflamed and reactive, this can make the under-eye area appear darker than normal.
  • Higher sebum production means oilier skin which could lead to congestion and acne flare-ups. In addition, the skin is not healing as quickly and its barrier is not as strong, leading to more blemishes which can take longer to heal.
  • Decreased skin repair mechanisms mean that skin is not regenerating as quickly and can appear duller.

How To Tackle The Effect Of Sugar On Your Skin

Reduce Sugar Intake

Try to limit sugar consumption and avoid foods with added sugars as much as possible. Sweet treats are an obvious place to start but there are refined sugars in many everyday foods; baked goods, fruit juice, and fast food all contain more sugar than you might expect.

High glycemic foods, ie those that raise blood sugar rapidly are the ones you most want to avoid if you think you may consume sugar in excessive amounts.

One of the biggest culprits in the modern diet is high fructose corn syrup which is in many packaged foods and sugary drinks, along with any kind of processed sugar products.

It's not just refined sugars and added sugar to look out for but also hidden sugars (e.g. corn syrup), natural sugars (dates, honey), and sweet fruits such as mangoes and grapes.

Replace sugar with at least 70% dark chocolate. It’s high in polyphenols that actually work to protect the skin.

Eat More Healthy Skin Foods

Eat more leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach and other veg like broccoli and seaweed for anti-inflammatory antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

This 'crowding out' approach, (eating more of the right foods), can also be an effective way to help you reduce your sugar intake - by swapping your sweet treats for healthy snacks, you'll naturally be eating less sugar.

The Right Drinks For Better Skin

Drink plenty of water and green tea - two drinks renowned for working wonders on your skin's appearance.

Try to avoid alcohol as it can dehydrate the skin further, something that's especially important if you suffer from dry skin conditions.

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