As Halloween fades into the past as just an orange blip, it’s time to think about how all those Halloween treats took a toll on your body and especially your skin. Because, sadly, sugar is N O T your friend no matter how yummy it is.
As a society we’ve become accustomed to heaps of added sugar in our diets. In fact, the average American consumes approximately 270 calories of added sugar in a day once you add up all the sugar you put in your coffee and the added sugar in other foods.
If you’ve ever devoured a pint of ice cream in one sitting, I’m sure you’ve noticed you may have a couple new friends emerge on your face as early as the next morning. So, why? Why on Earth could one cheat meal hurt your skin that much? It all boils down to the fact that sugar is a very inflammatory food and when eaten, it spikes your insulin levels. This increases inflammation in your skin and because this is a critical cause of acne formation, sugar often goes hand in hand with breakouts.
Not only does sugar increase your skin’s inflammation, but it also suppresses your body’s white T cells which are responsible for fighting infection. Sadly, this means that your skin is much more susceptible to acne causing bacteria that is skulking on your skin. The inflammation I previously mentioned will also signal to your body to release more stress hormone, cortisol, which will in turn lead to an increase in your skin’s oil production. A decreased ability to fight off bacteria coupled with increased oil production makes the perfect environment for acne production.
Many of us want to keep our glowing, supple skin for years on end and sugar is one of the things that might destroy this dream for us. Diets high in sugar may accelerate skin aging because they break down collagen fibers which are extremely important for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. Once this collagen is broken, the skin becomes more brittle and dry, leading to the appearance of older skin.
Lana, you cannot be telling me that I need to completely cut sugar out of my diet. And, that isn’t what I’m saying at all because that sounds impossible. The most important thing that you definitely need to do is pay attention to the sources of sugar that you are consuming. You want to avoid processed sugars and simple carbs like white bread. Natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables are not the enemy and most certainly have a plethora of benefits for your overall health.
Dermatologists make sure to include that moderate indulgence is okay! One of my mottos that my physician dad always said when I was a kid was that moderation is key. While I don’t like to admit that he’s right, he definitely is. Completely cutting out sugars from your diet will eventually crave them more, so try substituting out processed sugars in your daily diet by switching to natural sources like honey. And on big occasions, definitely indulge in that cake.
B Kind to Yourself…take a B vitamin!
If you find yourself the day after a sugar binge, do NOT panic! I repeat. Don’t panic. B vitamins have been shown to mitigate the effects sugar has on your body so try loading up on foods packed with B vitamins like whole grains, citrus fruits, and seeds and legumes. If you have a vitamin B pill, you could also take that. As per my previous article, I’d be careful about the contents of that pill, though!
I hope Halloween treated you well and now it’s time to get back to treating your skin well. Until next spooky season, the Skincare Scientist is signing off.