Is Sugar Bad For Your Skin?
For many of us, indulging in a sugary treat makes us feel good: ice cream on a summer evening, pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, a nibble of dark chocolate after a long day. And that’s ok. Everything in moderation, as the experts say. Sugar consumption becomes problematic when we overdo it routinely. Think: Heaping scoops of sugar in our coffee and a Danish for breakfast. Candy from the vending machine to fight mid-afternoon fatigue. Dessert every single night. That kind of regular sugar overindulgence can dramatically accelerate skin aging, leading to a prematurely-slack-and-wrinkled complexion. Here’s what you need to know to prevent sugar-aging and protect your skin.
Why sugar ages your skin
After you eat something sugary, the sugar in your bloodstream attaches itself to healthy proteins, creating new molecules called advanced glycation end products—a.k.a AGEs. (This process is known as “glycation.”) And the more AGEs you acquire, the more damage these new molecules inflict on surrounding healthy proteins—including the skin’s collagen and elastin. The result: Elastin and collagen become brittle and deflated, respectively, and the skin begins to sag and crease.
Damaged collagen and elastin isn’t, however, the only negative effect of a high-sugar diet. Glycation also affects your skin’s integrity in other ways, including modifying the type of collagen you do have. There are three types of collagen (Type I, II and III) in your body, and Type III is the strongest. But the process of glycation breaks down the Type III you have, effectively turning it into Type I. So, even though you may still have the same collagen count, it’s been weakened, and that makes your skin more apt to sag.
Finally, the accumulation of AGEs can hinder your skin's natural ability to fight free radicals and render skin more vulnerable to environmental damage from UV rays and pollution.
Four ways to stop sugar-aging
In short, sugar can really wreak havoc on aging skin. So, what can you do?
Fortunately, a lot.
- Cut back on sugar: Seems obvious, but simply becoming conscious of your sugar intake—and trying to scale back—helps. As a general rule, many nutritionists suggest limiting added sugar (e.g. skip it in your coffee, forego daily dessert). And be especially wary of high fructose corn syrup, which has been shown to be the most potent trigger of AGEs.
- Drink more water: Water won’t exactly “dilute” your sugar intake, per say, but being well-hydrated may help offset some of the negative effects of glycation. Aiming for 64 ounces is the goal, though you don’t have to drink all of your water. Water-rich foods like the watermelon, citrus fruits, cucumber, lettuce, celery, and tomatoes can also help keep you hydrated.
- Prioritize sleep: Our skin repairs and regenerates itself overnight, so getting plenty of shuteye (around 8 hours per night) is one way to counteract the damaging impact of glycation, ensuring skin has the time it needs to heal and rebuild during a daily, 24-hour cycle.
- Up your antioxidant intake: Because glycation inhibits your skin’s natural antioxidant properties, loading up on antioxidants—both in your diet and topically—is a smart defensive strategy. In addition to shielding your skin from environmental damage, there is also some evidence that antioxidants may inhibit sugar’s ability to attach to collagen and elastin in the first place. Antioxidant-rich foods include leafy greens like spinach and kale, blueberries and strawberries, grapes, nuts like pecans, sweet potatoes and many kinds of tea.
And topically, Neolastin’s three formulas—Face & Neck Regenerative Serum; Rejuvenate & Hydrate Moisturizing Cream; and the Revitalize & Firm Eye Cream—all contain polyphenols that act as powerful antioxidants. The polyphenols will scavenge for free radicals, trapping them and preventing them from invading skin cells and causing damage. Think of daily application of Neolastin Skincare like employing a bodyguard for your collagen and elastin.
Learn more about Neolastin’s unique science, and the secret to protecting and repairing your skin’s collagen and elastin here.