Sugar is not good for your skin. And it’s not just sugar, but also high-glycemic foods which quickly convert to sugar. This, in turn, raises insulin levels and puts unnatural demands on your body to deal with the food you just ate.
Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, white bread, and soda, cause insulin levels to spike, which leads to what Dr. Nicolas Perricone describes as “a burst of inflammation throughout the body.” Tip: Inflammation is not good for your body or your skin.
Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. Digested sugar permanently attaches to the collagen in your skin through a process known as glycation.
Aside from increasing the effects of aging, glycation can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea. 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.
Understanding the glycemic index, the scale which determines how quickly blood sugar levels rise after ingesting particular foods (hence, the high- and low-glycemic labels), is key to making the right choices for your skin when it comes to sugar.
A 2002 study published in Archives of Dermatology shows strong evidence that certain foods can cause breakouts. Noting that acne is primarily a “Western” disease, researchers studied 1200 people in Papua New Guinea and 115 people in Eastern Paraguay (people who eat a diet of fresh plant foods and lean meat they raise themselves) and didn’t see a single pimple.
Simple carbohydrates are the worst offenders: white bread, candy, fried food, ice cream, fruit juice, pasta, ketchup, cream cheese, jam, pizza, sugar (white and brown), packaged snacks and sodas. Common and uncommon names for sugar – see all the “other” names for sugar that you may be unaware of.
“Aside from ‘McDonald’s acne,’ which is common with people who operate fryers, it’s not the fat in fast food that seems to cause breakouts; it’s the processed carbs,” says Omaha dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “Pizza, burgers, chocolate and all the other old-wives tale culprits do seem to have a negative effect on skin – and science is finally catching up.”
A Special Note on Dairy
A 2005 article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the diets of 47,355 women and found a strong connection between milk and milk product (like cream cheese, sherbet, instant breakfast drinks and cottage cheese) intake and breakouts. Another study, of 4,273 teenaged boys also found an association between milk and acne flare-ups.
So what’s the link?
“Much of the milk that we drink is produced by pregnant cows and contains high levels of hormones that can send oil glands into overdrive,” explains Schlessinger. Progesterone, 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. Unfortunately, you don’t get a pass for buying organic milk from cows that haven’t been treated with Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). “The hormones are just as bad,” he insists. If dairy triggers your breakouts, “You simply have to avoid milk.” Schlessinger advises his patients to switch to almond milk, and cut down on cheese and other dairy products.
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Stay commited to you skin’s health! Want to learn more about sugar and the effects it can have on your skin? Please call our office at (949) 727-3800 today to schedule a consultation or fill out the form on this page and one of our trusted staff members will reach out to you promptly.
When it comes to your skin and your health, it really is all about what’s best for you. Total Dermatology understands this, which is why we offer versatile treatments with experienced and highly trained aesthetic professionals led by Dr. Nissan Pilest. Your Total Dermatology transformation awaits.