As If We Needed Another Reason to Avoid Sugar: Skincare and the Effects of Aging

There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you’re already on a Quest to watch what you eat and limit sugar and carbs. Even if you loosely follow the low carb lifestyle you’re probably aware of how much of an impact sugar can have on your system. Today we’re going to take a look at yet another reason to avoid sugar in all its sneaky forms. Let’s start with a question; how does sugar contribute (or not contribute) to the aging process? Buckle in, turns out sugar is one of the key dietary contributors to aging skin through a process known as glycation.

If you use sugar as a part of your skincare routine, you’re still in the clear. Topical applications aren’t the same as ingestion.

When sugar (glucose and fructose more specifically) enters the bloodstream, it binds to proteins- including collagen and elastin proteins, which are responsible for keeping the skin plump and wrinkle-free. When sugar binds to these proteins, it renders the proteins incapable of repairing themselves, and thus causes those proteins to break down. This process produces what’s called Advanced Glycation End Products (seriously, it’s called AGEs – couldn’t make this up if I wanted to). These Advanced Glycation End Products can cause myriad skin concerns including dark circles, sagging, and wrinkles. Not to fear monger, but most people I know spend a small fortune trying to stop the completely natural process of aging from taking place. Even worse, this AGEs producing process kicks into overdrive when stimulated by UV light on the skin. So does that mean you can’t eat sugar or go outside? The pandemic may have alleviated one of those concerns, but that’s only temporary, and you need real solutions.

For me, it’s a personal hobby to throw money at several skincare products, developing an entire routine, and that’s not even factoring in the uber necessary, and honestly costly, daily application of sunscreen. When tallying the time, I can spend upwards of almost two hours a day on skincare. After all that effort, I certainly don’t want to do anything that makes my hard work obsolete. I was aware that a diet consisting of excess sugar can cause acne, but remained blissfully unaware that my sugar consumption was directly combatting the work I put into my face twice a day, every day. While this wasn’t exactly the most welcome information to enter my brain, I am glad that I know, and thought it would be important to share with others. Basically, with everything that I know about skincare and aging, which at this point is a lot, the most important things you can do to maintain a youthful appearance are regular use of sunscreen, good sleep hygiene, and a diet low in sugar- everything else is just extra.

The good news? Naturally occurring sugars, like those found in fruit, produce such a minimal amount of AGEs that it really shouldn’t be a concern. It’s those pesky processed sugars and carbs, the ones you’re likely already avoiding, that are the big offenders- so hopefully this article hasn’t scared you, but made you feel better for the things you’re already doing.

If you’re reading this as a 20-or-30-something and freaking out because you don’t necessarily regulate or pay attention to your sugar consumption, stay calm. It’s going to be okay. Not only is the intensity of glycation relative to your age (the younger you are the less intense its effects), The benefits from cutting back on your sugar intake can have visual results in the skin in as little as a few days- AKA faster than any results you’ll ever see from a diet.
Maybe slowing down the aging process isn’t a high priority for you, but if you need an extra reason or motivator to keep off sugar and carbs, now you have an extra tool in your toolbelt.


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