You know the sweet person and the salty person? Well, I’m definitely the former. I’ll take gooey chocolate chip cookies over zesty chips any day. But after learning via my doctor that I have sensitivity to sugar (I metabolize it at an abnormally fast rate), I had to cut back on the treats. And once I did, well, guess what started looking brighter and better? My skin. We’ve already learned a ton about how food affects your skin, with dairy and gluten being two major inflammation triggers. In many ways, diet is a more potent skin care “regiment” than the creams and serums you use. What is ingested appears on your skin, be it in the form of acne, dullness, or wrinkles.
A healthy gut results in a natural glowing face — no Botox or filler needed! “The skin is our largest organ, and therefore, if there is imbalance or inflammation going on internally, we often see it show up externally on our skin. “With sugar having such an inflammatory effect on the body, contributing to dysbiosis, candida overgrowth, and other gut imbalances, sugar intake is often something we take a look at when patients have any kind of skin irritations, inflammation, or imbalances.”
Sugar Can Cause Breakouts
You know how eating a big doughnut can cause you to go on a sugar high and then crash? This not only affects your mood and energy but also your skin health.”When you eat sugar, your blood sugar spikes and the body releases insulin, which helps pull glucose from the blood and store it in cells,” Dr. Lipman explained. “Although the body is built to handle this in small doses, when someone is eating sweets or foods that turn to sugar once digested, blood sugar is in a constant state of flux, causing insulin and insulin-like growth factor to be released constantly.” So you’re probably wondering what this has to do with pimples. “It is problematic for a number of different reasons, but when it comes to the skin, the excess insulin and insulin-like growth factor causes the skin to release sebum, a greasy substance that can attract acne-promoting bacteria,” he noted. And there is proof to back it up! A study done by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that acne was improved when food that causes insulin spikes (such as refined carbohydrates and sugar) was reduced. Another study found that a high-glycemic diet is related to breakouts. While acne medicines can be amazing at solving the problems associated with zits, so can watching your sugar intake (and that includes fruit!).
Read Also: 10 Best Moisturizers for Oily Skin
Sugar Can Cause Skin Inflammation and Dullness
Sometimes my skin just looks . . . boring? It just doesn’t have that lit-from-within healthy glow. That molten chocolate lava cake from the night before may be the culprit. “We often hear of patients complaining of skin irritations and dullness — that they have lost their luster!” Dr. Lipman said. “Although most believe this is part of getting old, it doesn’t have to be! The effects that sugar has on our body internally, causing inflammation and feeding bad bacteria and yeast, can show up on our skin in many different ways, including psoriasis, eczema, acne, rosacea, redness, and often a lack of natural glow.” The sweet stuff also might be what is causing you to look bloated. “Because sugar is linked with weight gain, it can also contribute to puffiness in the face,” he added. This was definitely true for me! After a month of eating significantly less sugar, my jawline became more defined.
Read More: 12 Fruits That Will Make Your Skin Glow
Sugar Can Cause Premature Aging
Before you wear heavy night creams to bed or try cosmetic surgeries to combat fine lines and wrinkles, give revamping your diet a chance. Eating less sugar could actually solve the problem — and it’s a lot cheaper than the other options. “Inflammation causes oxidation in the body (also known as free radicals), which leads to premature aging,” Dr. Lipman noted. “Sugar binds to proteins and fats in the body during digestion to create ‘advanced glycosylation end products’ or AGES, which are free radicals that reduce collagen and elastin in the skin, this ultimately causing wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity.” Loss of elasticity causes sagging and those elevens that drive you crazy. Simply limiting your after-dinner ice cream or 3 p.m. candy snack could significantly slow down the skin aging process.
Read More: Skin Care for your Daily Routine
So What Should You Eat?
Now that you’ve been schooled on how bad sugar is for your skin, you’re probably rethinking a lot of your meals and snacks. Dr. Lipman has some valuable advice on how to make a lower-sugar diet seam feasible. “Avoiding sugar might not be as easy as it seems, as this toxic substance is included in many foods and drinks!” Dr. Lipman warned. “This makes reading ingredient lists on packaged foods extremely important, along with familiarizing yourself with the many different names of sugar.” Little changes can go a long way! If the green juice you love has 22 grams of sugar, pick the one without apple and pineapple, and you’ll likely be looking at a number like 4 grams.”To ensure you are supporting healthy skin, you want to avoid inflammatory foods such as sugar, and include an abundance of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables along with healthy fats to nourish and protect this skin,” he said. “Although some may argue that certain sugars are not as harmful as others, it comes down to individuality and how these foods affect you. Some people process carbohydrates more efficiently than others, when some may even need to avoid certain fruits to bring blood sugar back into balance.” If you have a sweet tooth, rely on more natural options. “For sugar-lovers, there are many alternatives, such as chia pudding, that can make a nice substitute,” he added. “But for others, sugar needs to be viewed as an addictive substance, and should be eliminated altogether. Drinking water, eating healthy fats, and eating tons of nutrient-dense veggies is important when working to remove sugar from your diet.”