Effects of Sugar on the Skin

It is no secret that sugar has undesirable effects on the body, but we often neglect to think how it may impact our skin. With the recent lockdown situation, we have all been spending lots of time at home and most probably eating too much sugary foods and home baked goodies. And on top of that, having more opportunities for indulging in wine, all the while feeling stressed out about what the future holds.

It is no wonder we reach for sugar in such stressful times, as sugar releases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine gives us a feeling of pleasure and happiness, also reinforcing habitual behaviour as it provides a sense of achievement. It is what drives the addictiveness of sugar. It is often compared to having the same chemical processes as with illicit drugs.

Excessive sugar is a huge culprit in accelerating the aging process. It causes dehydration, aggravates inflammation, and overall leaves the skin looking dull and aged.

Sugar and Inflammation:

Taking into consideration that the skin is a protective organ, the immune system of the skin plays an integral role in how the skin looks and feels; how you will age and skin conditions you may be experiencing.

Inflammaging is a term use to describe chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation which overtime impairs the immune system and accelerating the aging process. When we eat excessive simple sugars, Insulin levels spike which subsequently increases inflammation in the body.

It is believed that our gut contains a large part of our immune cells that keep our bodies healthy, fighting viruses and bacteria that could make us sick. Excessive sugar throws the balance of good and bad bacteria out, encouraging growth of harmful bacteria. When this happens, digestive issues such as bloating, and constipation occur which in turn prevents us from proper elimination. Since your skin is the largest organ of the body – and also an organ of elimination – toxins will find its way out through the skin and suddenly, you might see an increase in acne breakouts or even flare ups of skin irritations such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.

Sugar and Collagen:

Collagen is a structural protein which makes up about 70% of our skins. It is responsible for moisturizing processes and giving the skin a plump and firm structure. With the natural biological aging process, we gradually produce less collagen. This is why the skin loses its firmness and develops wrinkles. All signs of aging are as a result of loss of collagen. It is no surprise then that we must protect our skin’s collagen and in addition, stimulate the skin to produce more collagen.

Eating high glycemic foods such as cakes, chocolates, sugary drinks and wine, increase the breakdown of collagen in a process called glycation. Sugars bind to the collagen and elastin fibres making them stiff and brittle. This gives the appearance of criss-cross wrinkles and an overall aged look.

Sugar and Dehydration:

Sugar also dehydrates the body and the skin. The excess sugar eventually filters through the kidneys leading you to urinate more frequently. With increased urination, dehydration occurs. Dehydration is never a good thing since all living cells – including those in your skin – requires water for metabolism.

Another way in which the skin becomes dehydrated is through the loss of moisture from the skin. Due to inflammaging effect of sugar and the breakdown of the skin’s immune system, moisture loss is increased, leading to fine lines, tightness and dullness.

Natural Sugars:

Not all sugars are bad and a moderate intake of naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates are necessary for healthy cellular functions. These sugars come with fibre and other naturally occurring phyto-chemicals that assists in gradual sugar metabolism, helping to prevent detrimental insulin spikes. Still, any food containing high amounts of sugar should be eaten in moderation with a maximum of 6 teaspoons as part of your daily dietary allowance.

Tips to reduce sugar intake:

  • Avoid added sugar in tea and coffee
  • Learn to read labels to avoid added sugar in foods such as cereals, bread and packaged foods
  • Completely eliminate sugary soft drinks and juices
  • Increase protein rich foods
  • Increase fresh foods rich in fibre
  • Add good fats with omega 3, 6 & 9
  • Add a probiotic supplement for healthy gut bacteria
  • Increase water intake t a minimum of 2 litres a day
  • Drink Skinny Green Tea
  • Prioritize quality in your sleeping patterns
  • Manage stress levels
  • Live an active lifestyle as it helps to be mindful of what we choose to eat and at the same time, assists with stress management – often a cause of reaching for sugary snacks. Not only that, but it is key in lowering excess blood sugar levels and burning glycogen stored in the liver.

If you have seen the effects of premature aging in the form of criss-cross winkles, dehydration, inflammation or suffer with acne prone skin, contact us for a one on one professional consultation. Our expertise in skin analysis, product ingredients and scientific developments can help you see real results. info@futurethis.co.za