Sugar damages your skin through a natural process called glycation. The sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins and produces harmful free radicals called advanced glycation end products (AGES). As AGES accumulate (the more sugar you eat, the more they develop), they damage the proteins around them.
1. Damages Collagen & Elastin
The proteins that are most vulnerable to damage are those that serve as the building blocks for your skin: Collagen and elastin. These proteins keep skin firm and elastic and are responsible for the plump and bouncy characteristics of a healthy and youthful complexion. AGEs make your collagen and elastin stiff, dry and brittle, zapping them of strength and spring. The effects are seen on your complexion in the form of fine lines, sagging and wrinkles.
2. Affects The Type Of Collagen You Have
A high-sugar diet also affects the type of collagen you have. Your skin contains three primary types of collagen (aptly named Type I, II and III). The stability and resilience of collagen build with each stage: Type I is the weakest and Type III the strongest. Glycation degrades Type III collagen into Type I, thereby diminishing your skin's structural strength and stability.
3. Deactivates Natural Antioxidant Enzymes
In addition to damaging your skin's essential proteins, AGES deactivate your body's natural antioxidant enzymes. Without protection from antioxidants, your skin is more vulnerable to the free radical damage caused by environmental assailants like pollution, blue light and UV rays. Left to roam (and bind to your skin's structural proteins), free radicals trigger oxidative stress that contributes to premature aging of your skin.
Here are the tell-tale signs on your face that sugar is the culprit aging your skin:
The surface of your skin looks hard and shiny.
Deep, crosshatch lines appear along your upper lip.
Discoloration and hyperpigmentation mark your skin.
Deep crevices appear, especially around the laughline area.
The skin around your jowl area is sagging.