26 Aug Is our sugar consumption rapidly destroying our skin?
You’ve heard the claims, you’ve read the studies — sugar does harm to the body, causing weight gain, diabetes and many other side effects, but what does it do to the skin? You might want to put down the chocolate croissant while you read this one!
What are some of the side effects and long term affects we might see in our skin when we eat too much sugar?
Studies have proven that sugar has an immediate impact not only on our skin but our immune system, as well as our hormones! It can result in a loss of radiance, sensitivities and rashes, as well as minor infections and breakouts on the skin.
Long-term effects include fine lines and wrinkles, as well as deep wrinkles and expression lines as well as hyperpigmentation (brown ‘age’ spots) will be more evident.
Sugar consumption contributes to accelerated ageing in a couple of ways:
- Glucose has a direct and damaging effect on cells.
- Glucose also creates free radicals, which result in further cell damage.
The proteins in skin most prone to glycation are the same ones that makes your complexion plump. When those proteins are damaged as a result of sugar, they become discoloured, weak, and less supple; on the outside we see wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance.
Is the sugar in fruit ok and are there any fruits we need to be wary of?
You need to be mindful of the amount you eat; whilst the release of sugar from fruit is slower thanks to the fibre content, consuming excess sugar – even it’s from natural sources – is still problematic.
Consider the glycaemic index (GI) of the fruit you are choosing to eat regularly. Berries are the lowest GI of all fruits so can be eaten liberally. Tropical fruits, i.e. mango, are highest on the GI index so the volume and frequency with which you consume these should be taken into consideration.
However, refined sugar and sugar hidden in processed foods are the ones to really reduce in your diet.
Some foods I highly recommend to start improving your overall skin and health.
Stick to a basic rule of foods that are high in fibre and are low GI. Fibre is not only important for detoxification but it also feeds our microbiome which plays an important role in the health and wellbeing of our skin.
Plant based foods are rich in essential fatty acids and have good quality protein. Avoid processed food as much as possible.
When it comes to specific foods berries and small stone fruit like cherries are great, as are fibrous vegetables like leafy greens and the cruciferous vegetables i.e. broccoli, radishes and brussels sprouts. Essential fatty acids are important for a healthy, dewy glow so consuming Chia seads, Flax seeds or wild salmon are excellent sources!
Supplements can also be used to boost a healthy diet and lifestyle. Key things to consider are skin supportive nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc.
How to Fight Sugar Cravings:
Get your vitamins
Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, vitamin B3 and magnesium. Ignore that little voice in your head telling you that you have been good you deserve that half a muffin! If you can be strong and pass this stage the cravings will subside, your body adjusts and no longer craves sugar.
Simply adding spices like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally flavor foods and reduce the sugar craving. I recommend a little bit of Stevia, a plant based natural sweetener in your tea or coffee if you’re really craving something sweet.
Get your zzz’s
Ever notice that the more tired you are, the more likely you are to grab something sweet? Pack in 7-8 hours of sleep every night to avoid the cravings. Plus, when you’re exhausted a sugar pick-me-up is the last thing you want succumb to, since the crash is often worse than the initial tiredness.
Beware of hidden sugars
Remember that most of the ‘complex’ carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all, they are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided. Plus all of the following sugars have the same harmful effects on the skin: corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, molasses, refined and brown sugar.
When will we start to notice the affects in our skin when we limit our sugar intake?
As an adult, it takes 4-6 weeks for skin to completely turnover so best results will be seen from about that point on. However, the impact of reducing sugar intake on your circulation and hormones is quicker so you may begin to see a glowier, clearer, more youthful complexion begin to emerge in as little as a week.