Removing sugar and processed foods from your diet, you may notice you sleep a bit better, feel a bit lighter, but it might even improve your appearance. Many people going through a sugar elimination, for example, notice brighter skin, less pronounced wrinkles, better teeth, and just a more youthful appearance. Yeah, we get that some of that may seem subjective, but there's some science to it, as well!
When we eat too much refined sugar products, we cause insulin to spike in response, which can lead to inflammation (and possibly other, more major, health issues). Inflammation can be the source of joint pain, stomach issues, and even problem skin.
Some dermatological studies show that sugar can also suppress the immune system and limit our ability to fight off bad bacteria, leading to bacteria-clogged pores and resulting in acne. This bacteria can also cause cavities in teeth, tartar buildup, and poor dental health.
Even a bigger issue to some might be that sugar breaks down and limits the production of proteins and amino acids that build up collagen, causing skin to lose elasticity and a no longer have a youthful feeling and look. This process is called glycation, and is when sugar actually bonds with proteins in your body and produces free radicals called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) that destroy your collagen and elastin, the building blocks that keep your skin strong and supple.
These AGEs harden collagen and elastin, and prevent the body from making more. That leads to conditions like age spots, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, less supple or harder/rough skin, uneven skin tone, more inflammation, and in extreme cases, tumors.
Exposure to the sun's UV rays can also produce free radicals that accelerate the skin deterioration, but the more sugar we consume, the more these sugar by-products build up and present themselves with age, stripping the body of helpful vitamins and minerals which serve the role to keep our skin clear and looking amazing.
It's downward spiral, but can be reversible with some simple nutritional steps:
Control Blood Sugar Levels: The more glucose we have in our bloodstream, the more likely we are to be producing AGEs and aging our skin. Eating no sugar and consuming foods in balance (Pro, Fat, Carb) will help keep your insulin from spiking in response to high blood sugar levels.
Choose low-glycemic foods: It’s not just sweets that increase blood sugar. Remember that many foods, like white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and similar items break down quickly in the body, spiking blood sugar levels. These are foods that rate high on the glycemic index. Choose foods on the lower end—they take more time to break down, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you satisfied. Look for nuts and seeds; lean meats; eggs; tofu; most vegetables; healthy grains like barley, quinoa and rolled oats; yogurt; and low-glycemic fruits like berries, plums, peaches and cantaloupe.
Protect your skin: UV exposure increases the formation of AGEs. Protect your skin from the sun, always! Try zinc oxide. Remember that glycation affects all of your skin, not just your face, so protect hands, neck, arms, and legs, too, whenever they’re exposed.
Lift Weights/Get Under Load: Muscles consume glucose, so the more muscle you have, the more glucose your body will take up. As we age, we naturally lose muscle. Reduction in muscle mass can increase blood sugar levels, leading to increased AGEs. Regular weight training can help counteract this affect.
Limit Alcohol Intake: Researchers have found that alcohol enhances glycation stress.
Eat Real Food to Boost your Antioxidant Intake: Consuming fruits and veggies, as well as things like tea, can supply us with powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from glycation.
Nutritional Steps Adapted from: www.annmariegianni.com/glycation-and-skin/