Cookies, soda, candy, pasta -- just some of the edibles filled with sugar. They are delicious, yet addicting. We know that sugar can have a negative impact on the waistline, but did you know that it may be making us look older, too? Today, we will examine the relationship between sugar and your skin.
Sugar and the skin -- my personal story
I am going to share something personal with you first. My own skin is the perfect example of sugar's impact on the skin. In the past 15 months, I have shed just over 50 pounds.
I already ate pretty well. I didn't drink beverages with sugar, nor did I eat processed foods. Plus, I exercised several times per week. I have a sluggish metabolism, though, and I found it exceptionally difficult to drop the pounds after having two children 21 months apart. At my heaviest, I was over 200 pounds on my 5'8" frame.
Fifteen months ago, I broke up with grains and sugar. Wheat, corn, rice -- they all were giving me digestive woes, despite testing negative for Celiac Disease. My doctor did say that I am gluten sensitive, so I decided to cut grains from my diet.
To lose weight, I already was adamant about getting rid of sugar. Eliminating the grains was not so hard. Reading labels and avoiding sugar was another story. Sugar is in everything from pastas and breads to cereals and "diet" foods. My "healthy" granola and yogurt were both sugar-laden. The first 2 weeks were rough. After that, though, I began to feel different -- no more afternoon hunger or headaches. In addition to dropping 3 sizes and feeling energetic, the aesthetician in me could not help but notice the difference in my skin.
I do not think I realized the difference until people started remarking how much younger my skin looked. My skin has become so much brighter. I can wear a tinted moisturizer over sunscreen instead of traditional foundation. The tone is more even. Of course, I can attribute much of that to having a consistent skincare routine, but the only thing truly different has been my diet. As time has gone on, my skin continues to look even better. The most noticeable difference can be seen around my eyes.
I am going to step outside of my comfort zone and show you the difference, using my own photos. The picture on the left was taken in March 2009. The photo on the right was taken within the past couple weeks in July 2014. I have gotten 5 years and 3 months older since the photo on the left was taken. I have not had any in-office treatments, nor has any retouching be done on the photograph. My skin has improved and the lines around my eyes have diminished greatly.
The cause of this change? Eliminating sugar from my diet.
Sugar damages skin cells.
Let's look at the science. Excess sugar is linked to both inflammation and glycation. Both processes have a negative impact on the skin.
- Inflammation is believed to be one of the leading causing of aging. Experts believe that surges in blood sugar raise the level of cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers. The more sugar in the blood, the more likely you are to experience inflammation.
- Glycation makes you look older. According to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, "When blood sugar goes up rapidly, sugar can attach itself to collagen in a process called "glycation," making the skin stiff and inflexible. Losing this elastic resilience of young skin will give you deep wrinkles and make you look old."
Finally, more than speculation -- there is a science supporting the claim that sugar can make your skin look older.
Ingredients to fight the effects of sugar on the skin
There are ingredients that may help repair the signs of glycation and prevent further skin cell damage. Choosing anti-aging products with these ingredients may be just what your skin has been craving -- not those sugary treats.
- Fight inflammation with Alpha Lipoic Acid. Many dietary supplements contain Alpa Lipoic Acid, which is known for its ability to combat inflammation. Renowned naturopathic doctor, author and founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine has long been a proponent of the use of Alpha Lipoic Acid to fight inflammation.
- Powerhouse antioxidants such as Green Tea have been proven to significantly halt the glycation process as they promote collagen synthesis. Choosing skincare products formulated with Green Tea can help fight glycation and minimize the signs of skin aging caused by sugar consumption.
So what do you think? Are you ready to say goodbye to sugar? Have you eliminated sugar from your diet before? I'd love to hear your story.