The effects of sugar on the skin

Dr. Marc-André Doré

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Sugar, a ubiquitous ingredient in our diet, is often considered one of the main culprits of many health problems. While its negative effects on weight gain, diabetes and heart disease are well known, it is important to also highlight its impact on the skin. As a dermatologist, I want to share with you the latest research on the effects of sugar on the skin, as well as the best practices for maintaining healthy, glowing skin.

Glycation and skin aging

One of the main effects of sugar on the skin is glycation, a process in which sugar molecules bind to skin proteins, such as collagen and elastin, forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs) (Uribarri et al., 2010). AGEs lead to degradation of collagen and elastin fibers, which leads to a loss of skin firmness and elasticity, promoting the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin (Gkogkolou & Böhm, 2012).

Inflammation and skin disorders

Excessive sugar consumption can also cause inflammation, a key factor in the development of various skin disorders, including acne, rosacea, and eczema (Fabbrocini et al., 2010). Inflammation caused by a high sugar diet can trigger excessive sebum production and bacterial overgrowth, leading to worsening acne (Smith et al., 2007).

How to reduce the harmful effects of sugar on the skin

  1. Reduce added sugar intake: Avoid foods and beverages high in added sugars, such as sodas, candies and pastries. Choose naturally sweet foods, such as fresh fruit, to satisfy your sweet cravings.

  2. Eat a balanced diet: Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats to promote healthy skin. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can help fight oxidative damage caused by EFAs (Perricone, 2001).

  3. Consider dietary supplements: Supplements based on carnosine, a natural dipeptide, have been shown to be effective in preventing AGE formation and protecting skin proteins (Hipkiss, 2009).

The effects of sugar on the skin are multiple and deleterious. Reducing sugar intake and adopting a balanced diet are key steps to preserving the health and radiance of our skin. As a dermatologist, I encourage you to take this information into account when making dietary choices and to share this knowledge with your loved ones to help them adopt a healthier skin care routine.

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