We can’t deny that sugar and sugary foods in general are both comforting, delicious and often very hard to resist. It is also common knowledge that consuming too much sugar is bad both for your waistline and your general health, but it is less known that it can cause great damage to your skin.

So first, the basics:

When you ingest sugar or food high in glycemic, your body will transform the carbohydrates into glucose, which triggers the production of insulin.   However, certain type of carbohydrates, such as simple carbohydrates, causes the insulin levels to spike. Not only it is bad for your blood sugar levels, but it also affects your skin because this sudden burst of insulin causes inflammation in your body.

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So how does such an inflammation affect your skin?

1.    It accelerates the ageing process The inflammation releases enzymes which attacks both collagen and elastin, until eventually it breaks them down.   The problem with that? Well collagen and elastin are responsible for keeping your skin wrinkle free; so when both those cells are destroyed, wrinkles will appear, and your skin will start sagging.

2.    It aggravates skin conditions And indeed, sugar does that in more than one way!   Firstly, the inflammation from the consumption of sugar worsens any other inflammation you may have in your body; and the most common inflammation it triggers: acne.   Secondly, those enzymes mentioned above do not only attack collagen, they also attach to it, through a process called glycation, which also lead to the aggravation of conditions such as acne and rosacea.

The third way is indirect, but still very effective: when your blood sugar levels are high, one of your body’s response to eliminate this surplus of sugar is to evacuate it through urine. However, to create that urine, your body will have to use your water, resulting in a loss of moisture in your skin.

The problem is that a dry skin is more likely to crack, increasing the chance of infection and so, to cause more acne.

3.    It can causes excessive hair-growth and darkening of skin patches. As we explained, consuming sugars with simple carbohydrates causes spikes in the insulin levels; however when this happens too often (read: when you eat too much and too regularly those sugars), your body develops an insulin resistance.

Firstly, it is a very dangerous condition as it is one of the first steps towards type 2 diabetes; and some of its symptoms will be visible directly on your skin.   The first skin-visible symptoms linked to a resistance to insulin is called: acanthosis nigricans, and it is basically the darkening and thickening of the skin around certain areas of the skin.

The most commons area to develop such condition is around the neck, the armpits and the groin.   The second symptom is part of the polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition affects menstruating women, and is associated with irregular periods, or no periods at all, obesity and an increase in hair-growth all over the body.

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What sugar should not be consumed?

To avoid such negative effects on your skin, as well as on your body and health; there are a few foods that you will be best off avoiding. The first thing to remember is:

Simple carbohydrates are your enemy!

And by that, we simply mean to avoid any type of sugars that isn’t the product of Mother Nature – added sugars! The problem is that, those added sugars, are present in a lot of food, including the obvious candy, sodas and processed foods.   However, it is contained in many more foods than this: white bread, pasta, juice, pizza, jam, etc.

Which sugars are actually good for you?

The answer is simple: natural sugars. Indeed, those types of sugars contain complex carbohydrates, instead of simple ones, which means that when your body transforms them in glucose, it will do so at a slower rate, avoiding a spike in insulin levels.

Where do you find those natural sugars? The obvious ones are in fruits and vegetables; but they are also in products such as brown rice, beans, nuts, whole grains, etc.

You might also want to read about >> natural sugar alternatives!

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