It’s as addictive as cocaine but according to a 2012 report Sugar Consumption in Australia: A statistical update Australians consume around 27 teaspoons of it on a daily basis.
It may seem like to be the latest fad to quit it, but the truth is Sugar is your skins greatest enemy.
We’ve all heard the myth that diet doesn’t cause acne but it’s absolutely true what they say, you are what you eat and what you eat eventually does become part of you (including your skin!) What your put into your body can affect your hormone balance and therefore your skin.
High glycaemic foods such as grains, dairy, sugary treats and even fruit causes the blood sugar regulating hormone, insulin to spike causing a cascade of hormonal response. When insulin is overproduced, we will start converting it to insulin like growth factor or Igf-1, one of the nastiest of all the acne culprits!
Igf-1 causes sebaceous glands to go into overdrive and the cell turnover in your skin to become accelerated. Dead skin cell build up and excess oil are a recipe for congestion and breakouts and congestion is a pretty warm and safe little environment for bacteria to set up camp- hello infection and inflammation.
If you’re over 25 years of age, there’s yet another reason to be giving up the sweet stuff for your skin- collagen. After the age of 25 the production of collagen, the protein responsible for structure and elasticity in the skin, dramatically declines. Sugar has the ability to further decline or damage this imperative protein for anti-ageing and skin healing by the process of glycation, causing premature ageing and lack-lustre skin. More and more research is showing up on the affects of this process on degenerative and chronic diseases such as Alzheimers and Diabetes.
Sugar is kinieving little sneak and you can find it in even the most unsuspected foods (hey bread, I’m looking at you!) Glycaemic index (GI) is a good way to know just how rapidly certain foods are turning to glucose in your bloodstream and which ones are best to avoid. The GI number given to foods grades the rate at which it turns to glucose in the bloodstream (for example pure glucose is 100) The Dr David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain puts things completely into perspective with this comparative chart of the GI of four common foods:
Piece of wholemeal bread (71)
A tablespoon of sugar (68)
Snickers bar (55)
Who would have thought that out of a tablespoon of sugar, a snickers bar, a banana and a piece of wholemeal bread that the bread would trump them all?! Just mind blowing, but highlights the effect of wheat specifically on blood sugar levels.
Be mindful of “health foods” too, a glass of fruit juice can contain the same amount of sugar as a can of coke (that’s 10-12 tsp!!!) and natural sweeteners such as agave can contain more than 70% fructose. Dates, honey and coconut sugar are all still sugar so keep a lid on it.
If you do just one thing for your skin, make it quitting sugar. You can make a physical change to the hormonal cascade of acne causes by starting with this one simple step. It takes perseverance and preparation but it could just be the most important thing you do for your skin and your health.
That Sugar Film and I Quit Sugar are some great resources for inspiration and motivation- good luck!
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I’m Brooke Venables, I’m a naturopath, acne specialist and an ex-acne sufferer. I’ve been there, I know what you’re going through.