A BSA reader asked: ‘Can my blood sugar balance affect my skin? I read an article saying it causes wrinkles and inflammation that can lead to breakouts. Is this true and how can that be? Surely sugar can’t be that bad for you?’
We asked Dr Maurits Kruger from Skin & Body Renewal. Here’s what he had to say:
Yes, sugar is that bad for you. Although our bodies require glucose to function normally, the consumption of refined sugar and carbohydrates have a significantly detrimental effect on our bodies.
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to cut back on your sugar intake? Well studies have shown that the same reward circuits in our brains light up when we consume sugar, as when recreational drugs are used. Avoid it as much as possible, its really is not good for you for reasons far beyond you skin. Here are just some of the ways it can affect you…
Blood sugar imbalance
The sweet stuff in some form, alters blood sugar levels. Anytime you consume something with sugar, it causes your sugar levels to spike and then drop suddenly after the insulin is released into your cells. This can leave you feeling hungry, moody and just generally shaky. High insulin levels can also increase testosterone production in women. This leads to a whole host of health problems including ovarian cysts, facial hair and balding.
Tip: Try reducing the sugar you add to hot drinks. You don’t have to go cold turkey, do it gradually to give your taste buds time to adjust. Spice things up by adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your hot chocolate or coffee. Cinnamon helps stabilise blood sugar levels and adds flavour without the sweetness.
Refined sugar is highly acidic and can causes significant inflammation in the body or skin. If you’ve ever had a tummy ache or wind after eating too much sugary food, you can blame it on the inflammotory effect sugar has on the digestive tract. Not only does the acidity upset the flora balance in the gut, but it can’t be broken down into nutrients the body can use, except for glucose. Anytime a food doesn’t digest well, it can show up in the form of a breakout.
Tip: Need a quick pick me up? Have a piece of whole fruit (blueberries, grapes, apples) with a handful of nuts or a yoghurt. Both contain protein which helps balance blood sugar and energy levels.
Infections and rashes
Bacteria and yeasts thrive on sugar and a high sugar diet creates an environment favourable for these micro-organisms, including the bacteria which causes acne. If you suffer from rashes or are prone to yeast imbalance related infections like vaginal Candida, it could be because of your sugar intake.
Tip: Avoid refined sugars and added sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup and honey) if you’re prone to breakouts or rashes. Opt for fresh fruit or a natural sweetener like Stevia. It has no calories and does not impact blood sugar levels at all.
A high sugar diet will also cause more oxidative stress in the body by inducing the creation of more free radicals which lead to inflammation and illness. Unrefined sugars also basically suck the water out of your cells and can accelerate aging, including aging of the skin by damaging the collagen that’s needed to keep skin smooth, strong and flexible.
Tip: Well, drinking plenty of water doesn’t hurt!
Got a health question for Dr Maurits Kruger? You can ask him here.