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If you’ve ever experienced a flare-up or breakout after making changes to your diet, it may not come as a surprise that what you eat has a profound impact on the look and function of your skin [1]. 

A recent study published in the journal of Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity proposed a mechanism through which our skin may be aging more quickly as a result of higher refined sugar content in our diets [2]. The researchers concluded that higher levels of the sugar molecules glucose and galactose (found readily in ultra-processed foods) may be responsible for putting stress on our cells through oxidation reactions leading to visible signs of aging [2]. They demonstrated that during periods of high carbohydrate consumption, the metabolic processes that help convert those carbohydrates into energy can cause a cascade of chemical reactions within a cell leading to skin cell death [2]. One of the reactions leads to positively charged molecules within the body and can cause them to “steal” electrons from surrounding molecules [2]. If the oxidative reactions result in electrons being removed from DNA (the blueprints for all bodily function) it can lead to early cell death, which causes premature signs of aging in the skin [2].

The Science

For all our science geeks, here’s a more complex look at the chemical processes occurring in these instances:


The Bottom Line

While this may seem scary, it’s no reason to panic. These reactions occur in our body thousands of time a second and are part of a normal cell lifecycle. This study just helps to highlight places where we may be able to reduce the occurrence of these reactions to live an even healthier life and discover our best skin. 

What Should You Take Away From This New Research?

Remind yourself that skin care is holistic! Health is made up of body, mind, soul, and space. Enjoy the food you eat and boost your skin health by choosing whole foods more often. You can make small improvements by decreasing refined sugar consumption to help keep skin looking youthful. Eating a diet rich in nourishing foods and low in refined sugars can help keep blood glucose levels even and ensure the body has the building blocks to support beautiful, healthy skin.

Stay curious, ask questions, and feed your face!


[1] Katta, R., & Desai, S. P. (2014). Diet and dermatology: the role of dietary intervention in skin disease. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology7(7), 46.

[2] Umbayev, B., Askarova, S., Almabayeva, A., Saliev, T., Masoud, A. R., & Bulanin, D. (2020). Galactose-Induced Skin Aging: The Role of Oxidative Stress. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity2020.

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