Healthy Skin Starts With Less Sugar

Sugar is not only bad for your teeth and waistline; it also damages skin tissue

Too much sugar is widely known for its negative effects on your waistline and heart health. Less known is the fact that most types of sugars are also bad for your skin health. According to New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Maryann Mikhail as well as nutritionist and eponymous skin care dermatologist, Dr. Nicholas Perricone sugar is dreadful on your complexion.

Sugar and high-glycemic foods, such as cakes or apples, rapidly convert into sugar and break carbohydrates down into glucose. Glucose, in turn, raises your insulin levels. Dr. Perricone says simple carbohydrates such as those in refined sugar, soda and white bread cause spikes in insulin levels leading to what he describes as “a burst of inflammation throughout the body.” This burst of inflammation turns out enzymes, which break down elastin and collagen — causing wrinkles and inelasticity of the skin.

The process, known as glycation or the permanent attachment of digested sugar to collagen, speeds up aging effects and intensifies rosacea, acne and other skin conditions. Excessive amounts of sugar intake can develop insulin resistance; manifesting dark patches in body creases and on the neck as well as excess hair growth or hirsutism. When it comes to sugar, understanding how quickly blood sugar levels rise and fall (the glycemic index) after ingesting certain foods is essential for proper skin health.

Simple carbohydrates are the culprit in insulin spikes. Foods high in saturated fats or high-glycemic foodstuffs such as sugar (white and brown), white bread, packaged snacks and sodas, jam, fruit juice, ice cream, cream cheese, candy, fried food, pizza, pasta and ketchup are proinflammatory.

Complex carbohydrates, found in vegetables and brown rice, break down into glucose at a slower rate and do not cause insulin spikes. Whole grains, nuts and beans are low-glycemic food options and fibrous foods delay sugar absorption; controlling blood sugar levels. For healthy, glowing, youthful skin, choose tasty foods containing antioxidants (berries), fiber (cauliflower and broccoli), lean protein (salmon and fish) as well as anti-inflammatory, healthy fats (avocados and olive oil).

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