Does Sugar Make You Look Older?

Updated: May 23, 2019

Did you know that your sweet tooth can have a direct affect on how old you look?

Most people know that too much sugar is bad for your waistline, but not so many know that sugar can directly effect how you age and that sugar can have such a negative affect your skin.

Here's how sugar makes you look old:

  • The elastin in our skin keeps it 'elastic'.

  • The collagen in our skin keeps it plump and 'youthful'

  • Sugar spikes cause an outburst of inflammation within the body.

  • The inflammation releases enzymes which break down the elastin and collagen.

  • Reduced elastin and reduced collagen makes the skin look 'thin', saggy, and causes wrinkles, making you look older.

We are constantly hearing about new beauty treatments, hacks and lotions, all claiming to preserve our youth and there’s clearly big desire to to maintain a younger appearance.

We are so obsessed with our looks that global cosmetic skin care industry is worth an estimated $130 billion a year, and the daily skin care routines throughout our lives are testament to that!

But what if we are spending all of that money and time trying to protect our youth from the outside, when we are doing all the damage from the inside?

Woman with young skin

What actually makes us look young?

Our skin is actually the body's largest organ and elastin and collagen are the two proteins within the skin that keep it taught and youthful looking.

In simple terms elastin keeps your skin ‘elastic’, so that when you smile or frown or perform the millions of subtle movements through the various facial expressions every single day, it enables the skin to ‘spring back’ to where it originally was.

Basically elastin keeps the skin flexible and with plenty of ‘recoil’.

fresh faced woman

Collagen is responsible for keeping our skin plump and taught by ‘bulking’ it out.

Both of these properties, collagen for the plumpness and elastin for the 'springiness', result in skin that has a youthful appearance.

However, when we eat foods that are high in excessive sugar, it breaks down and reduces the collagen and elastin in our skin.

Simple carbohydrates such as refined sugar, and white flour products cause a spike in your insulin levels, creating what is effectively a quick burst of inflammation throughout the cells of your body.

Inflammation can then produce enzymes which will break down the elastin and collagen in the skin, causing it to lose it’s elasticity, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin.

And by reducing these proteins, we start to reduce any youthful ‘plumpness’, making the skin 'thinner' and enabling wrinkles to form far easier.

The science of food and your skin

The technical term for the new molecules that are created during this reaction are called ‘Advanced Glycation End-products’ (ironically called AGE’s for short!).

The more sugar you eat, the more AGE’s you produce, and in another ironic twist, these AGE’s deactivate you body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, which leave you more vulnerable to the worst kind of skin damage there is - sun damage.

Woman sunbathing

People with type 2 diabetes, and especially those with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, often show signs of early skin ageing, as some diabetics can have as many as 50 times more AGE’s in their skin than those who don’t have diabetes.

This process is similar to the way that arteries can harden causing coronary heart disease.

In addition to all of this, sugar can weaken the overall immune system, which then becomes weak at fighting off bacteria - and bacteria that gets clogged in pores created spots and pimples.

So as well as ageing our skin, sugar can also be responsible for reducing it's clarity.