Here at The Beauty Tree Spa, our Master & Professional Estheticians are often asked about appears to the client to be ‘unexplained’ skin degeneration. And more often than you would expect, our client consultation concerning aging responsibly for maximum skin health, leads us to single culprit… SUGAR!
Sugar is bad for the human body. Period. I think we are at a point in society whereby almost everyone knows that. It makes you fat. It decreases energy. It stresses out internal organs. It’s highly addictive and it ages your skin. Dramatically and directly. Yes… you heard that right. The intake of sugar - especially refined sugar - actually directly ages your SKIN. Obviously this isn’t a good thing. Our skin leaves the bigger first impression of any of our assets - even more notably memorable than a radiant smile or bright eyes. Our skin is also our first line of defense against disease. To say it is important, is a grave understatement. Good skin health is absolutely essential to overall well being. And simply put again… sugar can be directly linked to poor skin condition and erosion.
You see, when we consume sugar, it reacts in the body by attaching itself to proteins and fats - degrading the usefulness of these essentials AND the body’s ability to glean nutrition from them. This process is called glycation. And it severely ages the body. What is worse is that sugar has a particular affinity for DERMAL proteins and actively seeks these proteins first - feasting on these necessary proteins until they are no longer functional. The affect of this process - skin specific glycation - is commonly known in dermal circles as Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs). No pun intended, but AGE us is exactly what sugar does. As it attaches to and breaks down proteins and fats in the dermis, connective tissues begin to stiffen. Wrinkles and fine lines appear and both spread & deepen - often in an extremely unattractive, all over crosshatching type pattern. As all of this happens, skin begins to sag, suffering both loss of mass & luster, and it loses its’ inherent ability to protect us effectively because of resulting profound lack of fatty lipids and adipose tissue… all of it eaten away by SUGAR.
Now to be fair, protein cross-linking is part of natural aging and is not preventable in its’ entirety. However, heavy sugar intake - especially if combined with other poor lifestyle choices like smoking, UV exposure (from artificial tanning beds and excessive outdoor tanning), prolonged stress, drug use, alcohol abuse, dehydration, lack of exercise and poor diet - is sure to wreak havoc on your skin and its’ ability to protect your internal systems against illness and aging. It is nearly impossible to maintain good health into our golden years with severely damaged skin. Your skin is literally your body armor and must be maintained in our elder years for good health - not just cosmetic attraction.
In younger people, too much sugar intake can result in hormonal and adrenal issues causing skin eruptions, rashes, discoloration and breakouts in otherwise ‘normal’ skin.
But don’t over react to this bad news. Eliminating ALL sugar from the diet isn’t recommended for maximum health either. The body does need sugar in some form - complex carbohydrates actually supply glucose to fuel cellular mitosis throughout the body and is essential, especially during the Krebs cycle (the series of natural chemical reactions that takes place in the body to generate energy). In this context, complex sugars are required for us to function properly at a cellular level.
The real danger lies in the intake of hidden REFINED sugars such as white table sugar, white bread, processed white pasta or other simple carbohydrates in general - with the worst offender of this being high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is used heavily in common processed foods and can easily slip into your daily diet if you are not vigilant. Limiting intake of SIMPLE sugars can assist with counter balancing the affects of glycation and can help bolster your skin health. Other skin healthy options include adding the amino acid, carnosine to your supplement intake, drinking highly antioxidant green tea (UNsweetened) and eating to ensure a diet rich in vitamins A, C and E. All of these all help prevent the ravages of sugar on the skin and leave you with a healthy, radiant, sugar-free glow!
If you see signs of early ‘unexplained’ skin degeneration, see your Esthetician and be honest about your sugar intake. He/she can make suggestions that will not only help you live beautifully and age responsibly, but will help your skin radiate your commitment to that goal.