Ageing with sugar: is eating sugar good for skin?

Is eating sugar good for skin? Or how bad is too much sugar?

Who doesn’t love a spoonful of ice cream, a bite of chocolate cake or a cup of tea with biscuits?

But our love affair with sugar is one of the main culprits linked to the overall decline in health in the developed world and reducing our intake is recommended if we want to protect ourselves from chronic disease.

So how do we beat those strong cravings that keep us coming back for more of the sweet stuff?

There are a few factors that cause us to crave sugar including high stress levels, low levels of serotonin (the feel good hormone), low energy or lack of sleep and hormonal changes. Plus we all know that feeling that sugar can give us – increased alertness, mood and energy – that is so needed at the 3 o’clock slump! However, when we eat more sugar than our body needs, it gets converted into fats called triglycerides, most of which remains in the liver and accumulates around the waist. Sugar causes the hormone insulin to increase and the more insulin that is produced the higher our risk of type 2 diabetes. New research has shown that sugar also causes cancerous cells to grow and metastasise as cancer cells feed primarily on glucose.

Sugar can also affect the health of the largest organ in the body, our skin.  Major issues include:


Occurs when glucose enters the bloodstream and travels to the skin tissue, it attaches itself to collagen fibres, making the collagen hard and inflexible. This results in loss of suppleness and elasticity and speeds up the ageing process, allowing lines and wrinkles to manifest themselves quickly.

Inflammation – when blood sugar levels rise, this may result in inflammation of our organs, the skin included. As an immune response, the body reacts with skin rashes or cysts in the form of eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. Other reactions can be hypersensitivity (which results in redness), poor digestion and poor elimination.

Acneic breakouts

Due to the inflammatory response our body cannot eliminate toxins through the normal metabolism. Many of these toxins then build up in the cells and are eventually discarded as excretions through the skin, appearing as pimples, cysts, pustules and rashes.

Often coined “sweet poison”, sugar truly is something we can do without!

So here are some top tips to help you break your sugar addiction.

Manage stress

Stress is a huge factor in increased sugar cravings so finding ways to manage it is important. Try 10 minutes of meditation or deep breathing, go for a walk with a friend, take a hot bath, drink herbal tea, and don’t forget exercise.

Add protein and healthy fats to your diet

Lean meat, fish, pulses, nuts, avocadoes are all great sources.

Consume foods high in magnesium, chromium and zinc

These nutrients help to improve your cells’ sensitivity to insulin to maximise the amount of sugar your body is able to metabolise and burn. A deficiency in these nutrients may lead to sugar cravings. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, broccoli and bran are all nutrient dense.

Swap sugary junk food for naturally sweetened alternatives

Instead of store-bought sugary food, make your own banana-sweetened muffins, colourful fruit salad, or homemade ice cream by blending frozen bananas with a splash of milk.

Remove temptation

Out of sight, out of mind! Don’t buy it in the first place and you are not going to be tempted.

Get quality sleep

Lack of sleep causes all sorts of problems and affects the hormones that control our appetite. So ensure you are getting enough shut-eye.

Don’t skip meals

Going for long periods without food can cause your blood sugar levels to drop which in turn promotes hunger and most likely for carbs or sugary foods.

With so many downsides to sugar and the start of a brand new year, it might just be the perfect time to ditch it for good!

For all your Anti-Ageing, Rejuvenating Skincare solutions, visit a Salon Near You.


Q: Does consuming sugar accelerate the aging process?

A: Sugar can contribute to premature aging due to a process known as glycation. When sugar molecules bind to proteins in the body, they can form harmful compounds called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). These AGEs can damage collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles, sagging skin, and other signs of aging.

Q: How does sugar affect the skin’s appearance as we age?

A: High sugar consumption can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, reducing its elasticity and firmness. This process, known as collagen glycation, can result in the formation of wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. Additionally, excess sugar intake can exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea.

Q: Can cutting back on sugar intake improve the signs of aging?

A: Reducing sugar intake can have a positive impact on the skin’s appearance and overall aging process. By limiting the formation of AGEs, the skin’s collagen and elastin fibers may remain healthier, leading to a more youthful complexion. Additionally, balanced nutrition, adequate hydration, and a healthy lifestyle can complement the benefits of reducing sugar consumption.

Q: Is there a recommended daily sugar intake to slow down aging?

A: While there is no specific daily sugar intake solely for anti-aging purposes, health organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total daily calorie intake. For adults, this typically translates to about 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day.

Q: Are natural sugars found in fruits harmful to the aging process?

A: Natural sugars found in fruits come bundled with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them a healthier choice compared to added sugars in processed foods. The moderate consumption of fruits is generally considered beneficial and unlikely to accelerate aging. However, excessive consumption of fructose from fruit or any other source could contribute to health issues, so moderation is key.

It’s essential to remember that aging is a natural process, and while sugar can influence it to some extent, a holistic approach to health, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper skincare, is crucial for overall well-being and graceful aging.


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