Can sugar damage your skin? When we think about skin care, most people go to the obvious, protect yourself from the sun and have a good skincare routine. What a lot of people miss is what’s going on beneath the surface level of the skin.
Specifically, we’re talking about sugar and how it can cause irreversible damage to your skin!
What is Sugar?
So firstly, let’s establish what is sugar? A quick google search can yield an overly complicated answer to a simple question. This is because Sugar has a lot of different names and varieties but to simplify things, sugar belongs to the carbohydrate family and it tastes sweet. There are naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit and dairy products.
And then there is added sugar. Added sugar is used to enhance the flavour, texture and even the shelf life of food and other goods.
Added sugar in moderation, like everything, is not so bad. The issue occurs with excessive consumption. This happens as a result of sugar being in a huge variety of products and going under a variety of names such Barley malt, Molasses, Caramel, demerara, dextrose, fructose, Golden Syrup and more.
Sugar can be high in products you wouldn’t expect such as pasta sauce, ibuprofen tablets, Protein Powder, bread and even salad dressing. Adding to the difficult, here in Australia, companies are only legally required to inform customers of total sugars in a product, not the specific types.
There are four specific types of sugar
- Glucose: Our bodies use this for energy and it is the main type of sugar in our blood.
- Fructose: Is naturally occurring in fruit and responsible for fruits sweet flavour.
- Sucrose: The most common type of sugar, often referred to as table sugar.
- Lactose: Is a sugar found in dairy products such as milk.
In an ideal world, your aim should be to reduce foods with added sugars, such as sucrose and focus more on foods with naturally occurring sugars. While these sugars still add no nutritional value, they usually come as part of a complete nutritional package, meaning you will get a greater overall net benefit from an actual apple vs apple juice.
Sugar Causes Premature Aging
The damage sugar can do has been well documented, with too much sugar leading to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, fatty liver and heart disease.
On top of all his, sugar is outright terrible for your skin, as it causes damage from the inside. Continued excess sugar consumption spikes your blood sugar level, this can lead to a process know as glycation, where sugar permanently bonds to key proteins in your body.
These proteins are elastin and Collagen, these two proteins bind cells and tissue together. Think of collagen as smoothing your skin and elastin as helping your skin recover to it’s normal state after being pulled or stretched.
So why is sugar bonding to these proteins bad? The altered proteins can no longer function properly and this results in sagging, dry and wrinkled. More commonly known as premature aging.
This also leaves your skin much more vulnerable to environmental stress such as sun and free radicals, which will further damage your skin.
Acne is usually associated with teenagers and can just be a natural, albeit unfortunate, part of growing up. While this is true for teenagers, for adults, acne also occurs as a result of a diet that’s high in sugars.
Acne is the result of bacteria build up in the pores of your skin. This bacteria can build up from the pores being clogged up by dead skin cells and excess oil produced by your sebaceous glands.
Acne can be treated by using a cleanser to remove excess oil and dirt from your skin, using skincare products that help to remove dead skin cells and not touching your face.
Sugary foods quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels which causes increased dandrogen secretion, oil production and inflammation in the skin. Excess oil leaves your skin looking greasy and inflammation can leave your skin looking puffy and red.
Acne can also lead to long term damage to the skin, via acne scarring. ‘’Acne scars are permanent textural changes and indentations that occur on the skin as a result of severe acne. In severe acne, large pus-filled spaces known as acne cysts are formed. These cysts destroy skin tissue which is not replaced during the healing process. When the cyst eventually empties and the area heals, it usually leaves behind an indentation (or scar) on the face.’’
While acne scarring is treatable via laser treatments or even surgry in exterme cases, we feel it’s much easier and cheaper to simply address the problem before it becomes a real issue. This can be done by making some life style changes.
How to Manage Your Sugar intake
This should come as no surprise but diet is going to be the game changer here. The easit step to get you started is to lower your artificial foods. This can include things like baked goods, lollies, icecream etc.
The next would be to drink water over soft drink. Sounds obvious but it was found that ‘’Just over half (52%) of free (white/ table) sugars in the diet were consumed from beverages, with the leading beverages being soft drinks, electrolyte and energy drinks (19%), fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (13%) and cordial (4.9%).’’ What this tells us is that we are consuming a lot of unnecessary sugar via soft drink and the switch to water would have a significant impact on reducing our sugar intake.
If you are going to consume sugar, look to get your fix from naturally occurring sources, such as fruit. Take our earlier example of an apple vs apple juice. While an apple still has empty calories from fructose, it also contains Fiber, Vitamin C & K, as well as potassium.
This ensures that your body is being fulled by vitamins and nutrients and not just sugar and artificial sweeteners that can be found in even the healthiest of apple juices.
So we’ve ruined all the fun foods for you but we’ve saved your face. If you need more tips on how to look after your skin, check out our other articles and videos on skincare.
ps. Do your skin a favor and visit our shop, we’ve got plenty of good stuff to help you look your best.