Sugar effects your skin enormously. Sugar also affects our health in so many ways. Here we take a closer look at how sugar can impact common skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and even skin sagging and wrinkles. Let’s face it, we’re in 2017 and if you don’t know about the detrimental effects that sugar has on your health. Type sugar into Google and make yourself some popcorn. Not the pre-seasoned stuff, it contains sugar. The inspirational Sarah Wilson has built an empire advising people on the health benefits of giving up the satisfying ingredient that seems to lurk in the most inconspicuous places. We’re shifting the spotlight from dental cavities and obesity to the reflection you see in the mirror everyday. The effects of sugar on your skin are pervasive. Could that pimple, loose skin or new wrinkle be a result of sugar in your diet?
How Sugar Effects Your Skin
Did you know that not all sugars are created equal? After my first pregnancy I gave up sugar (along with dairy, processed foods and almost everything that had an ounce of taste to it). BUT, my skin was looking extra fab, not to mention my cellulite had disappeared, despite not working out at all. I know a thing or two about sugar because I’m fructose intolerant, which means I have fructose malabsorption and fructose is the nastiest of sugars. Fruit and veg contain glucose and fructose, but some carry more fructose than others.
Glucose is broken down by our bodies easily whereas fructose isn’t. Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, white bread and soft drinks, cause your insulin levels to spike which causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation can impact your health and skin in different ways, but it brings me to question, is ‘quitting sugar’ Hollywood’s secret to perfect skin? If Hollywood babes Eva Longoria, Kate Hudson and Adele are anything to go by, I might have to jump back on the IQS bandwagon!
How Sugar Effects Your Skin: Acne
Remember that adage that chocolate causes pimples, well it wasn’t too far off. Studies are pointing to ‘sugar’ as the contributor to inflammation in the body that may contribute to pimples forming. Acne doesn’t even exist in native non-Westernized populations, such as in Papua New Guinea and Paraguay. Experts have put it down to the Western diet having a high ‘glycemic’ load (1).
The glycemic load is the quantity and rate of absorption of simple carbohydrates I mentioned earlier. Insulin stimulates sebum (oil) production and specific hormone activity that leads to the formation of acne. In a 10-week study of testers consuming a low glycemic diet, resulting in reduced skin inflammation, smaller sebaceous glands and an overall improvement of acne (2).
How Sugar Effects Your Skin: Ageing
STOP the Botox now. Quitting sugar is the natural and less costly alternative to Botox. The most obvious tell-tale sign of sugar-affected skin is sagging due to loss of elasticity.
It happens through a rather complicated process called glycation which produces Advanced Glycation End-products. Funnily enough, AGEs for short. The process:
- Eat Sugar.
- Glycation occurs. Sugar attaches to proteins & causes new harmful molecules (AGEs).
- Collagen & elastin fibres damaged.
- Saggy, wrinkled skin.
Once the cells are damaged, they cannot be repaired. Early research shows that some herbs and spices may be able to inhibit the production of AGEs – so start sprinkling that oregano, ginger, and garlic on your roast veg!
How Sugar Effects Your Skin: Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition. It also has many ‘triggers’ that change from person to person. What might work for one person’s psoriasis won’t necessarily work for another’s. However, with the growing knowledge that healthy diets impact many skin (and general health) conditions, people living with psoriasis have been experimenting with healthy diets, including removing refined sugars. It has generally been part of an ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet which aims to remove other possible triggers such as dairy and red meat. With many sufferers experiencing great results, why not give this a go if you have psoriasis? You may find it has other positive effects as well!
How Quitting Sugar Effects Your Skin
I love this example of what quitting sugar, even for seven days, can have on your skin. Here, Lauren Blum documents ‘What Happened to My Skin When I Quit Sugar for a Week’. She documented how her inflammation and overall look and feel of her skin improved after a mere seven days, her skin “looked renewed. The overall redness of had gone away, and there was a brightness that hadn’t been there before.”
If you have a diet high in refined sugar you might not even know it, believe me, refined sugar is lurking everywhere, consider healthier options such as rice malt syrup to sweeten food, as well as colourful fresh fruits in moderation. For the sake of your health AND your body’s largest organ, your skin.
- The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic-load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: a randomised, investigator-masked, controlled trial. Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, Mäkeläinen H, Varigos GA J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Aug; 57(2):247-56.
- Clinical and histological effect of a low glycaemic load diet in the treatment of acne vulgaris in Korean patients: a randomised, controlled trial. Kwon HH, Yoon JY, Hong JS, Jung JY, Park MS, Suh DH Acta Derm Venereol. 2012 May; 92(3):241-6. Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is general and for informational purposes. It is not meant to substitute the advice provided by your physician or another medical professional. Please contact your health care professional immediately for any health-related conditions or concerns.