“Sugar Sag” Is a Thing — and It’s Aging Your Skin Big Time

A secret to youthful skin? Dropping that sugary smoothie.

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It’s no secret that everyone’s skin loses its elasticity over time. It’s also no surprise that certain habits, like smoking and not wearing sunscreen, can lead to premature aging.

But there’s one sneaky habit that many of us partake in daily (OK, for some, multiple times a day), that may be speeding up the aging process more than you realize: indulging your sweet tooth.

This phenomenon is called “sugar sag,” which is essentially a loss of skin elasticity due to elevated blood sugar levels. Research has shown that blood sugar spikes can lead to changes in the skin, affecting collagen and elastin via a process called glycation. Over time, these changes can lead to looser skin and wrinkles.

While many think sugar is the only culprit, it’s actually any foods that raise your blood sugar—namely, simple carbs. Simple carbs (sugary beverages, like soda or fruit juice; white bread; pasta; and sweets like cookies or ice cream) are easily broken down by the body, which means that they also easily increase blood sugar.

To counteract the wrath of the “sugar sag,” fill up on more skin-friendly foods, like high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Swap simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates, like whole grain bread and beans. Eat your chocolate and enjoy some pasta—just have it in moderation. And try these tips to eat less sugar without feeling deprived.

Alongside changing your diet, slow the aging process by incorporating these healthy habits into your lifestyle too.