- Rajani Katta MD
Why Consuming Too Much Sugar Can Lead To Wrinkles and Aging Skin
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Over the years, I've had a lot of patients ask me about their wrinkles. Specifically, are there any creams that can help with deep wrinkles?
That's a tough one. There are many options when it comes to treating fine lines and wrinkles. Unfortunately, your options narrow when it comes to deep wrinkles and a sagging jawline.
A diet heavy in refined carbohydrates and added sugars can lead to collagen damage, ultimately causing sagging and deep wrinkles.
The problem is that by the time you see sagging skin, you've already experienced significant damage to the collagen and elastic fibers in the skin. Some of that is due to age and genetic factors. Much of it is due to damage from external sources, such as UV radiation and pollution (and smoking!). But some of that collagen damage is due to your dietary choices.
Foods high in added sugars or refined carbohydrates can lead to higher levels of blood sugar, which in turn can accelerate wrinkling and aging of the skin
Many people don't realize just how much diet can impact our collagen. In fact, one of the cornerstones of an anti-wrinkle diet is eating foods that help maintain steady blood sugar levels.
Prevent Sugar Sag By Stopping Sugar Spikes
What is the link between blood sugar and collagen?
Physicians have known for many years that patients with diabetes experience poor wound healing. One of the reasons for this is that the elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics cause changes in collagen. Those same effects on collagen can be seen on our face. Specifically, higher levels of blood sugar can result in the cross-linking of collagen fibers through a process called glycation.
When your blood sugar rises, a chemical process called glycation takes place. This results in the production of compounds called advanced glycation end products, fittingly known as AGEs. These "sticky" compounds act to cross-link collagen fibers. If you think of your collagen fibers as a strong net that bounces back easily, then you can imagine what happens when that net starts to get tangled up: it starts to sag, and it doesn't bounce back as well. In the skin, that translates to a loss of skin elasticity, with wrinkling and sagging skin.
We call this sugar sag, and one of the keys to avoidance is maintaining steady levels of blood sugar.
The bottom line: To prevent premature aging of the skin, focus on sun protection AND focus on the right foods.
Dr. Rajani Katta is the author of Glow: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. To receive future updates on preventive dermatology and the role of diet, sign up here.