Can Sugar Make You More Sun Sensitive?

According to William Duffy, respected author of Sugar Blues, the answer is a a big fat yes.

after you have kicked sugar for a year or so, you begin to notice big changes in the way your skin takes to the sun…

With a sugary diet “sitting in the hot sun covered with a chemical sauce to get a tan is looking for trouble- especially for women.” – william duffy

I wasn’t able to find much on the direct link between sugar consumption and sunburn, but I did find information that led me to the indirect link: courtesy of inflammation.

Inflammation in the body leads to free radical damage and can set you up for sun sensitivity. Since sugar is the leading inflammatory ingredient in the Western Diet, it is definitely possible that sugar can increase free radical damage and sun sensitivity.

If you think about it…we are using more sunscreen than ever, yet our rates of sun damage, skin cancer and rosacea are skyrocketing. If sunscreen is the answer, why is this happening? Sure we have holes in the ozone, but are they solely responsible for the rise in all these skin imbalances?

It is interesting to note that over the last 30 years, our sugar consumption has skyrocketed too, as proven by our nation’s diabetes rates. It may not be that we are consuming more candy or cakes. Sugar is added to so many prepared and packaged foods. Yogurt, milk, cheese, crackers, bread, chicken nuggets, baby food, salad dressing, salsa..and many many more – all contain sugar.
So, is there a connection between the rise in sugar consumption and the rise in sun sensitivity? There’s certainly a good argument for it.

Take a look at some of the ads placed by the Sugar Industry in the 1960s and 70s, posted by The Diet Blog.

“Sugar is responsible for nearly half of all skin aging, because it inhibits the effectiveness of collagen within your skin cells.” – Dr. Nicholas Perricone

Sugar attacks collagen fibers, cross-linking them excessively and causing them to stick together. The result is sagging and wrinkled skin. This process, known as glycosylation, can also cause hyper-pigmentation because it overworks the melanocytes that produce pigment. If the melanocytes are working overtime, churning out pigment – you can bet that they wont work as effectively when you get out in the sun. They will produce too much pigment in some areas and not enough in other. This can lead to discoloration of the skin and risk of sunburn.

Want proof for yourself? Try an experiment. Cut out all sugars (even the hidden sugars in foods,) now and see if you notice any difference this summer. While you will still need sunblock, you may find that your skin handles the sun better. For more information on Sugar in the Diet and how it affects your skin, read our post: Sugar and Your Skin

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