We already know a high sugar diet causes issues with the health of our bodies but have you ever thought about the impact it has on our skin?
Many of us enjoy chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cakes, desserts, fizzy drinks and more, with some of us even referring to ourselves as having “a sweet tooth”! And while it’s okay to eat and drink these sweet treats in moderation, by having a diet which includes consuming excessive amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates we aren’t only likely to gain weight, but we are also irreversibly damaging our skin. It’s not uncommon that this impacts our mental health too as our changing appearance knocks our confidence and self-esteem. In this post we’ll be revealing what goes on in the body when you have too much sugar and just how it contributes to premature changes in the health and appearance of skin…
THE LINK BETWEEN SUGAR AND COLLAGEN PRODUCTION
Having an excess of sugar in our body causes the glycation process to kick in. This is when the sugar molecules in our bloodstream link up with our protein molecules (collagen and elastin) and lipids (fats); the cell structures harden, forming new harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). As a result, the collagen and elastin proteins become damaged and the number of inflammatory cells in the body is increased. Over time, during the process of glycation, collagen and elastin are weakened meaning they cannot perform their roles and their production levels decline.
So what does this mean for our skin?
- Collagen is a protein found in the connective tissues (bones, muscles, tendons and skin) which put simply, holds our body together. It gives our skin an appearance of plumpness and firmness. As we get older, collagen production is reduced and we begin to see more visible changes in our skin. When we have a high sugar diet, we are promoting the glycation process and essentially accelerating this reduction of collagen leading to premature changes in our skin. Our skin looks less supple, more tired-looking, fine lines/wrinkles/dark circles appear and at times, we experience inflammation.
- AGEs deactivate our body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, making skin more vulnerable to free radical damage caused by environmental stressors and particularly sun damage. With less/weakened collagen, our skin barrier isn’t able to protect us from the absorption of bacteria, pathogens and toxins. Subsequently, our immune system is affected as our white blood cells become less effective at killing germs. We become more susceptible to viral infections and breakouts as we can no longer fight the bacteria which causes them.
MORE SKIN SIDE EFFECTS OF A HIGH SUGAR DIET
- Too much sugar can cause a spike in our blood glucose levels which increases the production of insulin. This in turn increases the activity of our oil glands (sebum – our body’s natural oil), which also causes inflammation. Too much sebum results in clogged pores, breakouts, acne, rosacea or even eczema.
- Dehydration is another downside. Sugar draws all the water from our cells. Having too much sugar in our blood stream causes our kidneys to get rid of excess amounts so we urinate more frequently, lose more fluid and cause our skin to become dehydrated. From this, we may see discolouration, dull-looking skin, puffiness, less elasticity, redness and irritation, fine lines and wrinkles, development of dark circles, and other skin issues.
- Our gut health can also be affected by too much sugar, with bad bacteria feeding on it, and becoming more dominant over the good bacteria, which in turn can aggravate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The bacteria in the gut are finely balanced and maintaining its health will benefit more than the health of skin.
It is never too late to adopt healthier lifestyle changes which will slow down unexpected changes in our skin. Remember, we need to feed and stimulate the growth of good strong cells from the inside! We know there are lots of hidden sugars in food (and even fruit/fruit juices have intrinsic sugar) but being mindful about what you consume and eating intuitively is a great way to ensure you are listening to what your body wants, whilst really taking your time to enjoy each mouthful.
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DO YOU SEE YOUR SKIN CHANGE WHEN YOU CUT OUT OR REDUCE SUGAR IN YOUR DIET?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below.