Dr. Perricone Discusses

Sugar and Skin Conditions

Sugar in all of its forms (corn syrup, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) is extremely damaging to the skin--and in fact to all organ systems.

Sugar and foods that rapidly convert to sugar when eaten cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels, resulting in the release of insulin into the blood stream, that then cause us to store, rather than burn fat. However, that is not the only negative byproduct.

As these sugars and starches are eaten, they cause a burst of inflammation throughout the body. The sugar molecule can also permanently attach to protein, such as the collagen present in our skin and other parts of the body. This process is known as glycation.

At the point of attachment, there is a small mechanism creating inflammation, which then becomes a source of inflammation in its own right. This inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen, resulting in wrinkled, sagging skin. In addition to inflammation, glycation also causes cross-linking in our collagen, making it stiff and inflexible where it was once soft and supple.

But it is not just the skin we have to worry about. These "sugar-bonds" can occur throughout the body as we age. The sugar molecule attaches itself to our collagen as well as our arteries, veins, bones, ligaments, even our brains, resulting in the breakdown of organ systems and the deterioration of the body. Glycation creates "free radical" factories known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which also increase cellular inflammation.

Sugar consumption can also affect acne. When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from a poor diet or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at a cellular level. This causes inflammatory diseases such as acne to worsen dramatically. Cortisol and other adrenal steroids can act as androgens (male hormones) and stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands resulting in a flare-up of acne.

If you are concerned about your health, and not accelerating the aging process, it is best to avoid all forms of refined sugar as well as chemical artificial sweeteners. There are natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables that should be our only source of sugar. These foods are high in anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants, help stabilize blood sugar, and nutrients that promote beautiful skin and a healthy body.

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