We all deserve a treat every now and then, but chances are you have more added sugar in your diet than you realize. Too much added sugar can damage your skin through a process called glycation, in which sugar molecules bond to proteins, fats, and amino acids in the body. “When proteins become glycated, they become stiff and much less functional, so imagine what that does to the proteins in your skin,” says dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. Collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin firm and elastic, are greatly impacted by this process, she says. “Sugars are rapid stimulators of glycation, as they easily attach themselves to proteins in the body—you really must reduce your sugar intake to maintain healthy skin.”
If you have a serious sweet tooth, but want healthy skin, this video is for you! Sugar in any form causes multiple changes in our body, from our cellular membranes and our arteries to our hormones, immune systems, gut, and even microbiome—the microbes in our intestines that affect our biology all the way out to our skin. Now, there’s a lot going on when it comes to how sugar impacts your skin through myriad pathways in the body. Spiking insulin and inflammatory pathways are just a couple of ways. There’s another big reason to avoid too much sugar that has a direct hit on skin: glycation, which is our focus today.