When you ingest sugar or high-glycemic foods that rapidly convert to sugar your body breaks down these carbohydrates into glucose, which raises your insulin levels. Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, white bread and soda, cause your insulin levels to spike. Dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone describes this as “a burst of inflammation throughout the body.” Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. Digested sugar attaches to the collagen in your skin through a process known as glycation. Aside from increasing the effects of aging, glycation can also exacerbate skin conditions such as rosacea.
“Imagine a column in a room is your collagen and you’ve just had a macaron, so sugar’s coming into the room, which is your blood stream. The sugar sees the collagen support beam and it goes over and gives it a ‘hug’, the sugar bonds to the collagen and that bonding process is call glycation. But in the bonding process it damages the collagen column.”
Heather Vounnou, Ella Bachè National Training Manager
In addition to damaging our internal proteins and premature ageing, sugar can also promote acne by elevating blood sugar levels, which can result in a cascade of hormonal effects, including increased androgens (acne-causing hormones) which can stimulate excess oil flow which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Understanding the glycemic index, the scale that determines how quickly blood sugar levels rise after ingesting particular foods, is key to making the right choices for your skin when it comes to sugar.
Sadly over the past 30 years sugar consumption has increased dramatically. Sugar is used frequently and in too many cases ‘hidden’ in foods one would not expect to find them in, just so they ‘taste better’. A common culprit are the sugars found in low fat diet foods, breakfast cereals, fruit juice, in many types of breads and sauces including pasta, sweet chilli, balsamic vinegar which is about 47% sugar especially the caramelised version and BBQ. Simple sugars like fructose and galactose often in sugar substitutes undergo Glycation at about 10 times a higher rate than glucose.
Opt for complex carbohydrates, like brown rice and vegetables, which are broken down into glucose at a slower rate (and therefore don’t cause an insulin spike). Low-glycemic options, like beans, nuts and whole grains, as well as fibrous foods, which delay sugar absorption, also help control blood sugar levels. Do your best to follow an anti-inflammatory diet of healthy fats (like olive oil and avocados), lean protein (like salmon), fiber (like broccoli and cauliflower) and antioxidants (like berries) if you want glowing, youthful skin.
* Disclaimer : The content of the SKIIN Clinic web site, such as text, graphics, images, and information obtained from third parties, are for informational purposes only. Results from series of treatments performed may vary from a person to another. It is recommended to consult our qualified doctors, nurses or skin therapist prior to performing a treatment.