Effects of Sugar on Skin: Your Sweet Tooth Is Giving You Wrinkles

We’ve got bad news. It turns out sugar can contribute to premature aging, wrinkles, and even a phenomenon called ‘sugar face’ in the beauty world. Yes – those who eat more sugar may develop a certain look: one with wrinkles, sagging, larger pores, oilier skin, and under-eye bags. Sugar is not only a dermatologist and nutritionist’s worst nightmare… it’s yours too if you want a bright, healthy complexion. 

Effects of Sugar on Skin: How Does Sugar Cause Aging?

Before you cut out all sugar cold turkey, let’s discuss how exactly sugar causes aging.  Sugar molecules bond to the collagen fibers (a connective tissue that keeps your skin plump) inside our skin and causes them to break down.  As a result, the skin loses its elasticity in a process called Advanced Glycosylation End-Product (AGE). One study found that higher serum glucose (sugar) levels led to higher perceived age. 

My Personal Experience with the Effects of Sugar on Skin

Personally, I always thought I had a pretty healthy diet. I have been gluten free for eight years due to celiac disease, but I’ve always tried to eat lots of plant-based fiber. I didn’t eat much dairy at all, and really limited my processed sugars such as soda. I figured going ‘sugar free’ would be easy for me, when my nutritionist told me to cut it out due to a candida infection. Well, I quickly found out sugar is a sneaky beast… it is in everything, from ketchup to dark chocolate to even alternative milks. And that’s just the refined cane sugar. Natural sugars from fruit, starchy vegetables, maple syrup, agave, etc. can have just as significant effect on your health. 

Although it was difficult to cut out sugar, it only took a few weeks for people to start commenting on how ‘bright’ my skin looked. When I finally reintroduced sugar, I had my first breakout in weeks.  

Tips for minimizing effects of sugar on skin

It is certainly challenging to cut out or limit sugar. Here are some top tips to reduce the effects of sugar on skin and keep your skin looking healthy. 

  1. Eat low glycemic foods: Foods higher on the glycemic index cause blood sugar spikes, leading to increased AGEs and more rapid collagen breakdown. Stick to low glycemic foods such as oats, zucchini, lentils, broccoli, quinoa, and more. 

  2. Eat high-fiber foods: Foods high in fiber have the combined benefit of stabilizing blood sugar and promoting regular bowel movements, keeping the body detoxified and the skin clear.

  3. Limit simple carbs: Simple carbohydrates are quickly transformed into sugar by the body. Limit your consumption of white potatoes, white rice, pasta, refined sugar, and more. 

  4. Drink lots of water: Drinking 8+ glasses of water per day will keep your system flushed out.

Reduce your sugar intake and you can drastically change your skin. Take charge of the effects of sugar on skin, and help your body from the inside out!

Nutrition, BeautyPerryn Ford