It is a common knowledge that what ages our skin most are excessive and unprotected exposure to sun and smoking. There is also more evidence now to link our diet to skin aging.
A healthy diet in women is linked to less facial wrinkling. A large study on the Dutch population, published in 2018, revealed that women with diet high in fruit, and supplemented with yogurt, milk and some vegetables had less facial wrinkling than women with an unhealthy diet, consuming mainly meat, grains, snacks, soft drinks, coffee, and alcoholic drinks.
Previous studies have also shown that higher consumption of animal source products, fats, and carbohydrates increased skin aging. On the other hand, high consumption of vegetables, legumes, and olive oil appeared to be protective against sun-related skin damage. Higher intakes of vitamin C and linoleic acid (Omega-6 fatty acid) and lower intakes of fats and carbohydrates are associated with better skin-aging appearance - was the conclusion of another study carried out in 4025 (40-74 years old) women in the US. In short, what we eat can significantly impact our skin appearance.
Do you have a sweet tooth or sugar cravings?
I do and have actively started to limit the sugar intake, a painful process, but so worth it. Why?
Research on rats has found that sugar is more addictive than opioid drugs such as cocaine. This holds true for rats, but not so much for people. “Liking sweet things can be habit-forming but is not addictive like opiates or cocaine.” But anyone with a sweet tooth trying to come off sugar will confirm it is not easy. Addictive or not, there is no doubt that excessive sugar consumption damages the skin.
How sugar damages your skin?
When you eat a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates levels of blood sugar in the body become high. As a result, sugar molecules in your bloodstream permanently bond to proteins and produce harmful free radicals. The process is known as glycation - the bonding of a sugar molecule to a protein or lipid molecule without enzymatic regulation. The more sugar you consume, the more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) you accumulate that damage protein around them.
We must remember collagen and elastin represent the two most predominant proteins in our bodies and serve as the building blocks for the skin. They keep it firm and elastic and are responsible for the plump and bouncy characteristics of a healthy and youthful complexion. Sugar causes cross-linking of collagen, which renders both of them incapable of easy repair and results in diminished skin’s structural strength and stability, in stiffening and loss of elasticity of the skin. Simply put, skin becomes tougher and more wrinkled, as both collagen and elastin fibers are damaged.
Conclusion: a diet high in sugar degrades collagen and elastin over time, causing premature skin aging - reason enough to limit sugar’s consumption
BUT there is one instance that sugar can help our skin.
When you use sugar externally for body exfoliation. Exfoliation is the peeling of dead skin cells from the upper layer of our skin. As we age the natural process when the skin sheds dead skin cells slows down and it becomes necessary to help the process along. Sugar-based scrubs offer gentle exfoliation, as sugar particles melt onto the skin in contact with water. The gentle, mechanical exfoliation with sugar will remove the top layer of dead skin cells together with other impurities, without damaging the surface layer of the skin. We use sugar cane in our brand new Imagine Pure Delight Body Scrub. The sugar cane is a natural source of glycolic acid that can smooth and soften the skin. For the base of our body scrub, we use super-moisturising natural ingredients like organic coconut, sesame, oat kernel, and squalane oils, vitamin E, and deeply nourishing, vegan wax – Candelilla wax.
Result? Silky smooth, deeply moisturised, brighter and radiant skin. Imagine Pure Delight Body Scrub will gently exfoliate your skin without stripping its natural oils. A truly guilt-free pleasure, enveloped in a chocolate & orange aroma. The one time you can treat yourself to sugar!
- Mekic, L.C. Jacobs. M.A. Hamer, M.A. Ikram, J.D. Schoufour, D.A. Gunn, et al., A healthy diet in women is associated with less facial wrinkles in a large Dutch population-based cohort, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2018
- M.C. Cosgrove, O. H. Franco, S. P. Granger, P. G. Murray, A. E. Mayes, Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007
- B. Purba, A. Kouris-Blazos, N. Wattanapenpaiboon, W. Lukito, E.M. Rothenberg, B.C. Steen, M.L. Wahlqvist, Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference?, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2001
- N. Davis, Is sugar really as addictive as cocaine? Scientists row over effect on body and brain, Guardian, 2017
- D. Miranda - Nieves, E.L. Chaikof, Collagen and Elastin Biomaterials for the Fabrication of Engineered Living Tissues, American Chemical Society, 2016
- W. Danby, Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation, Clinics in Dermatology, 2010
Sugar - Sharon McCutcheon - Unsplash
Imagine Pure Delight Body Scrub product photography - Helen & Louise from The Brand Studio