You are what you eat. We know this sentence all too well from women's magazines and wellness portals. But in fact, it makes a lot of sense — and you should consider it one your most important beauty principles. If you care about the condition of your skin, want to fight acne, or hope to delay the aging process, analyze your diet first. This way, all of your approaches to inner and outer beauty can work together in synergy.
Your facial skin actually reveals more than you think. Is it swollen, bloated, and dry? You might be drinking too much alcohol. Do you have dark circles and bags under your eyes, with white spots and lumps on your chin? Lactose intolerance could be the the cause. Is your complexion gray and dull, with pimples appearing all around your face? You could be eating too much sugar. But sugar can cause many, many more problems than pimples. Let's find out what they are.
When you think about reducing your sugar intake, you probably already associate it with losing weight — and that's absolutely correct. The excessive amounts of carbohydrates in sweets, white bread, rice, or noodles directly how much body fat we accumulate. They add inches to our waist and pounds on the scale. But sugar has another, equally disastrous effect on the body — eating too much of it causes our skin to age more quickly.
If you eat too many sugary foods, the glucose they contain starts to "stick" to the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin. This causes them to lose their elasticity and resilience. Marta Kucińska — a biologist, Ayurvedic consultant, and certified facial yoga teacher — describes this in her book Joga Piękna (Beautiful Yoga). As she writes: "The skin becomes thin and prematurely wrinkled, especially under the eyes, where it is naturally thin and delicate. [...] The face can lose its natural, full shape, as sugar interferes with how fat is distributed in the body. As a result, the face becomes emaciated, taking on a 'gaunt' look."
Wrinkles aren't the only side effect of sugar. Another is pimples, especially pimples that develop all around the face — or even on your chest and arms! Sugar can also affect your skin tone. If you eat large amounts of it, insulin rises, as does cortisol, which brings a pale, sallow look to the skin. None of want to look like that!
Acne can develop regardless of age. Hormonal changes can lead to acne among teenagers and women in their 30s alike. Take a holistic approach — visit a dermatologist, use high-quality cosmetics, and make some changes to your diet. One good move is to cut out simple sugars, like glucose and fructose.
When you eat too many sweets, insulin and cortisol rise within the body. Excess insulin works to deteriorate the work of the proteins that bind to our receptors for retinoids — vitamin A derivatives that work to combat skin problems, including acne. A deficiency in this protein leads to increased cell growth, causing acne to worsen.
What can you do when you're struggling with acne, but you also have a sweet tooth? Try replacing sweets with fruit. You should still limit how much of it you eat, though because the fructose contained in fruit is also a simple sugar — fortunately, a much healthier one. You can also include complex carbohydrates in your daily diet (wholegrain noodles, brown rice) and eat plenty of vegetables. When you want something sweet, try a carrot. Cut down on sugary sodas, too — ideally, you should give those up altogether.
Sugar is addictive — scientists say eight times more so than cocaine. Quitting sugar is challenging, because it's added to a wide variety of foods. Detoxing from sugar can be difficult, but it's worth it for the sake of your skin, as well as your overall health. Sugar works on the body in a similar way to drugs like nicotine. What's more, many of us have learned to view sugar as a "reward," over the course of many years. Who didn't hear the words, as a child: "Eat a nice lunch, and you'll get a treat!".
When you give up sugar, you'll feel lighter. Start by staying hydrated — drink at least two liters of water a day. When your body is hydrated, you'll feel less hungry, and therefore consume fewer unnecessary calories. Eat a high-protein breakfast — with eggs, yogurt, or peanut butter, for example. When you reach for snacks, go for full-fat options, like a slice of wholegrain bread with avocado, or a green-veggie salad sprinkled with olive oil. When cravings hit, reach for "smarter" sugar — two squares of dark chocolate or a glass of red wine with your evening reading won't wreak too much havoc on your body. Above all, persist. When you cut out sugar, the first few days are the hardest — but the feeling of lightness that will come once you're free from this addiction is worth those tired moments early on.