There has been a lot of publicity in the past few years asking “does sugar cause wrinkles?” Are you ‘suddenly’ noticing that your skin is showing more lines, sagging more, looking less ‘full’ and lacking luster and considering anti-ageing skincare options? Did you know that sugar could be the culprit?
Sugars increase acne, rosacea, pigmentation and facial hair growth. Plus, the more sugar you eat, the more likely it is you’ll develop insulin resistance, which can manifest as excess hair growth (hirsutism) and dark patches on the neck and in body creases.
Sugar – simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, white bread and fizzy drinks, (high-glycemic foods) quickly convert to sugar and cause your insulin levels to spike, which leads to inflammation in the body. Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. Digested sugar permanently attaches to the collagen (protein) in your skin through a process known as glycation. Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), cause protein fibres to become stiff.
Collagen and elastin are most prone to glycation and they give us our youthful plump complexion. The presence of AGEs also makes the complexion more vulnerable to UV light and cigarette smoke. Sugar (glucose) makes skin cells abnormal; and creates free radicals, which is a double whammy for premature ageing of the skin.
So, does sugar cause wrinkles?
Scientists are able to measure AGEs: The cross-links formed between sugars and proteins emit a fluorescence, which scientists can capture using complexion-analysis cameras. If you take a fluorescent image of children, their faces will come out very dark, but with adults each passing decade, shows AGEs as an accumulating brightness in the skin.
The external signs of glycation show up around the age of 30 or 35, when built-up sun damage, environmental oxidative stress, hormonal changes, and the development of AGEs begins to result in, A-G-E. When you’re younger, your body has more resources to ward off damage, and you’re producing more collagen. When you reach a certain age, these sugar by-products build up and your skin’s resistance for damage lowers.
While glycation can’t be stopped completely, it can be slowed down first from a dietary standpoint. All carbs convert to sugar; supplementing with carnosine, an amino acid has been shown to protect against AGE buildup.
Skincare can also make a difference. Scientists have been on the hunt for potent anti-glycation agents that significantly interfere with the glycation process and stimulating collagen synthesis—so if you’re using a product containing green tea (or drinking it regularly), you’re already protecting your skin. Anything that stimulates the fibroblasts to build new collagen is going to help slow or eradicate damage. Retinaldehyde (Vitamin A) fall into this category. Since your body has a process where old collagen is broken down by enzymes and new collagen is generated, what’s going to happen is that the old glycated collagen will eventually be eliminated and replaced by new (un-glycated) collagen.”
Other anti-ageing beauty tips:
- Avoid milk. If you suffer from acne, much of the milk that we drink is produced by pregnant cows and contains high levels of hormones, which over stimulate the oil glands. ExProgesterone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) as well as compounds that the human body turns into dehydrotestosterone (DHT) are passed on to the milk, which can aggravate acne. If your acne is triggered when you drink milk, “don’t drink milk”
- Foods You Should Eat. Complex carbohydrates, like brown rice and vegetables. 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, fibre (like broccoli and cauliflower and antioxidants like berries if you want glowing, youthful skin.
- Get plenty of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases the stress hormone, cortisol, which mobilizes sugar stores and causes your insulin to spike.
- Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated. 72% of your body and 80% of your skin is made up of water. The more hydrated you are, the pumper your skin cells and the better the delivery of vital nutrients and stimulation of skin processors such as collagen production.