What Sugar Really Does to Your Skin
It's finally October, and all the local Targets have their dollar section flooded with Halloween decorations, ghouls and goblins, pumpkin-flavored goodies, and huge bags of candy we all can't wait for the lovely excuse of Halloween to gorge ourselves on. But before we make a habit of sneaking monster-shaped Reese's into our purses every day, let's take a look at three very real consequences of consuming too much sugar.
Perhaps you have already learned that food heavily impacts your skin, either for better or worse. Sugar is one of the well-known enemies to clear skin. But do you know why? Sugar, or anything that turns into sugar once ingested (white rice, white bread, pasta, or any other simple carbs), causes insulin levels to dramatically rise in order to stabilize your blood sugar levels. This entire process leads to inflammation. We're familiar with inflammation being something we pop an Advil for, but most of us aren't fully aware of what a "bad word" inflammation really is. So, we're breaking down three major ways this inflammation leads to unwanted acne and breakouts:
Inflammation can influence other inflammation within the body. All those pesky skin issues we hate so much like acne, rosacea, and eczema all result from inflammation. More inflammation in the skin from consuming too much sugar means that all of these conditions we're trying to deal with can be worsened.
Inflammation opens the door for stress hormones, like cortisol, to come out and play. Trust me, we really don't want that. Cortisol boosts oil production in the skin, which is a breeding ground for bacteria and acne. Now, not only do we have inflammatory skin issues magnified, but we've built it a nice forever home to retire to and take up golf.
- Inflammation makes specific enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, which leads us to the next not-so-sweet skin that sugar causes...
Once that bag of monster-shaped Reese's has been fully digested, the sugar will permanently attach to proteins through a process called glycation. You know what major protein that sugar attaches to? Collagen. Yep, the protein responsible for keeping our skin young and supple. Moreover, through glycation, a brand new, more destructive enemy emerges. The A.G.E.s (advanced glycation end products). Let's just pause for a moment and take note of how the very name of this new enemy tells us what it's going to do. It's going to AGE you. These A.G.E.s are after the collagen and elastin, ready to demolish them. For example, there are three types of collagen in the body: Type I, Type II, and Type III. Type III is the strongest of all the types of collagen, and those pesky A.G.E.s attack it so much that they degrade it down to Type I. Weakened collagen and elastin directly lead to wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.
Sugar is a dehydrator! Wait, hang on... didn't I just say that it causes inflammation, and inflammation produces cortisol, and cortisol creates excess oil? Yes! But having excess oil does not mean that your skin is hydrated. You absolutely can have both oily and dehydrated skin at the same time! Dehydrated skin obviously means that it doesn't have enough water, which makes the skin look dull, tired, and colorless.