Your skin is one of the most important organs in your body, protecting you from the weather, toxins, injury and illness A number of factors can affect its health, including consuming a diet high in sugar. One of the key ways overindulging in sugary foods can affect your skin is aggravating acne, a condition that causes pimples and scars that can be difficult to remove.
Sugar may actually advance the aging of your skin, making your face appear more wrinkled and less youthful. Sugar affects the collagen that holds your skin together, and it reduces your skin's elasticity. Consumption can lead to wrinkles, pimples and inflammation. Simple rather than complex carbohydrates also break down into sugars in your body. Not only does sugar consumption in excess convert to fat and contribute to the development of health issues such as obesity, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes but it also contributes to skin ageing and deeper wrinkles.
The process by which sugar ages the skin is called glycation. The process starts in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (or, appropriately, AGEs for short). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. The production of AGEs is directly proportional to the level of circulating glucose in your blood stream i.e. the higher your blood sugar the greater the rate of glycation and cross-linking. As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins which can damage collagen and elastin, the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic. In fact, collagen is the most prevalent protein in the body. Once damaged, springy and resilient collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging.
Foods high in sugar include candy, cakes, pies, pastries, muffins and chocolates. These foods spike the blood sugar levels in the body quickly. Beverages such as soda, lemonade and juice are full of sugar as well, though it is sometimes hard for people to realize how much sugar they contain because they are in liquid form. According to CNN Health, drinking even one can of soda can spike your blood sugar levels.
When it comes to sugar consumption the key message is to cut out or reduce your intake. While it may be hard to cut sugar out totally, try swapping packaged cereals for homemade muesli, soft drink for mineral water with a twist of lime and lollies for fresh fruit. Limit sugar intake and increase vitamin and omega-3 fatty acid intake for young-looking skin.Your body and skin will love you for it.
Watch for hidden sugar in food. Many prepared foods contain hefty amounts of sugar, including barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, maple syrup and molasses. The key is determining how many teaspoons of sugar each serving contains. Doing this is easy: Check the nutrition label for sugars, which are listed in grams under total carbohydrates, and then divide that number by 4 (each teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 g) to convert it to teaspoons. For example, if sugars are listed as 12 g, you're getting 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Avoid high fructose corn syrup. This type of sweetener, which is made by changing the sugar in cornstarch to fructose (another form of sugar), is believed to produce more AGEs than other types. Because HFCS extends the shelf life of foods and is sweeter and cheaper than other sugars, it's a popular ingredient in soda, fruit-flavored drinks, and packaged foods such as breads, crackers, and other snacks. You can spot it in ingredient lists on nutrition labels.