Is sugar ruining your skin

Not just your waistline and dental health, too much sugar is bad for the skin too. Experts tell us why...

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Do you often seek a sugar rush in the form of donuts, cupcakes, macaroons, pastries, etc. or even sugary beverages for that matter, just to kickstart your day or the slumpy afternoons or the late nights at work? All of us know that sugar is bad for the health because of the tendency to make one pack the pounds, and it being bad for dental health too. But what about the skin? Yes, that’s right. Too much sugar can give rise to fine lines, wrinkles and loosening of the skin, which constitute ageing. Why blow up wads of cash on anti-ageing products and skin treatments later, when you can curb the damage by simply cutting down on the sugar content?

Case example
Thirty-six-year-old Anamika Desai suffered skin problems like excess pigmentation, wrinkling and eczema on trunk (part of the body excluding head, neck and limbs). After extensive tests, she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and Crohn’s disease (involving inflammation of the lining of the digestive system) of the intestine. Anamika responded to a gluten-free diet, as a part of her treatment and her skin improved dramatically in a month.

Too much sugar causes ageing
“When sugar is ingested in any form, be it bread, cake or even potato or raw sugar, it starts ‘gylcation’ process in the body. Here, it binds to the elastin and collagen fibres and leads to the degradation of these important protein blocks of skin which are responsible for the elasticity and suppleness of the skin. This glycation process causes inflammation in the system resulting in further destruction of the collagen and elastin fibres. All this results in formation of wrinkles, fine lines, loose skin, which are all signs of aging,” explains aesthetic physician and anti-ageing expert Dr Jamuna Pai.

Fungal infections and eczema on the cards too
Dermatologist Dr Satish Bhatia also agrees that consumption of excess sugar is bad for the skin. “Increased sugar levels cause a build up in the liver or colon giving rise to majority of fungal infections and eczema. These cause fibrin deposits in skin leading to laxity or wrinkles,” he says.

Sugar addiction among young people, females more affected
Sugar is considered as a ‘comfort food’ since eating sugar gives an instant rush of energy. When you’re tired or stressed, especially if you haven’t eaten for a few hours, the blood sugar levels drop adding to the feeling of fatigue, increasing irritability and moodiness. Sugary foods raise your blood sugar levels quickly to relieve the fatigue and mood swings associated with low blood sugar levels. This increases the sugar addiction in absence of regular intake of meals.

“In today’s world, more and more people are having skin problem due to sugar addiction. They can be from both genders and all age groups, right from a teenager who faces stress due to the exams, or a middle-aged person facing competition at work, to menopausal women.

Professionals with high stress jobs such as investment bankers, media personnel, entrepreneurs, etc. are the groups which are at higher risks of having skin problems,” says Dr Pai.
Dr Bhatia has seen sugar addiction from the age group from 25 onwards. Also, females are more affected with regards to skin issues due to excess consumption of sugar. High stress jobs with irregular eating, no exercise, irregular sleep pattern and sedentary work are more prone.

Diabetics more prone to skin problems
Since excess sugar is bad for the skin, does this mean that diabetics are more prone to skin problems? In her practice, Dr Pai has often seen people suffering from diabetes at a young age and says that the glycation process is increased in diabetics due to the hyperglycemia, which accelerates the signs of aging. Accelerated skin aging is noticeable in diabetic patients, where glycation is increased because of the high serum glucose level, she says.

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