Sorry, sugar, we’re on to you. Besides not being so great for our teeth and overall health, you sure are sinister.
“It’s no surprise that sugar is not optimal for your body and organs,” says Greenwich, CT, dermatologist Kim Nichols, MD. “What IS a surprise to a lot of people is how damaging it is to their skin. It literally has the ability to destroy it.”
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Yes, now we have to worry about our skin being affected by the sweet stuff. Simply put, sugar does a number on your complexion because it damages your collagen, which results in the appearance of lines and wrinkles over time. Norwalk, CT, dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, says to look at sugar as having two main effects on the skin: “First, sugar causes inflammation and negatively affects the quality of collagen through the process of glycation.” While this term has become a bit of a buzz word when it comes to sugar, Dr. Mraz Robinson says it’s basically a process where sugar binds to proteins in the body—such as collagen and elastin fibers—and produces “advanced glycation.”
And that’s not all. As Dr. Nichols adds, “This advanced glycation reduces the quality of the building blocks in the skin by making them stiff and rigid, which translates to an aged appearance. Because sugar breaks down your skin’s elasticity, if you eat a lot of it, eventually your skin will appear to sag.” The very positive side effect if you cut it out? “Many times I see patients who notice a marked improvement in their skin, including their acne or rosacea, after one month of eating healthier,” says New York dermatologist Sapna Westley, MD. “If you can focus on a diet that revolves around low-glycemic foods like whole grains, nuts and beans, antioxidants, and foods rich in omega-3s (salmon, avocados, olive oil), you can pretty much eliminate sugar from your diet.”
Still not convinced? If sagging skin wasn’t enough, Dover, OH, facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD, says you may be doing something else that we really can’t deal with.
“Large consumption of simple sugars—especially white/processed sugars, or other sugars that are absorbed very quickly from the GI tract into the bloodstream‑causes spikes in insulin production and release. Chronic large insulin releases increase the tendency of the body to develop insulin resistance, which consequently leads to even higher chronic insulin levels,” he says.
One of the problems with a chronically high insulin levels? “It provokes the ovaries to produce more androgen/testosterone which in turn leads to coarser, thicker hair growth on the face, neck, chest, and extremities; while, in genetically sensitive women, simultaneously leads to thinning of hair on the top of the head, otherwise known as androgenic alopecia.”
Yes, we love our sweet stuff, but that last one is enough for us to stay away.