Sugar and Collagen: What You Need to Know
As much as we all love a sweet treat, too much sugar is bad for your skin and can be detrimental to your general health.
It’s also particularly damaging to your body’s collagen production. So it strikes us as almost counter-intuitive that some collagen brands on the market actually sell collagen with sugar. People turn to collagen for healthy reasons, not because they’re looking for another sugar product to add to their diet.
...Surely doing so just makes it easier to get sugar face?
What is ‘sugar face’, and why do we want to avoid it?
Unfortunately, ‘sugar face’ is not an endearing term to describe a sweet-as-pie complexion. Sugar face, or sugar skin, is the visible evidence of a high sugar diet on our complexion.
Effects of sugar on the skin - how to spot sugar face
The signs of sugar face include:
- Vertical lines crossing over the lips and running up or down the surrounding skin
- Heavy facial creases, especially around the mouth
- Patchy, discoloured or hyperpigmentation of the skin
Collagen and your skin
OK, so sugar is bad for the skin, but what does it have to do with collagen?
Collagen is the most prevalent protein in the body and one of the main building blocks for the skin. Thanks to collagen, we appear fresh-faced and youthful when we’re younger and our collagen production levels are strong. However, as we get older, our natural collagen production decreases and tell-tale signs of ageing begin to appear. Fine lines, wrinkles and sagging become more prevalent.
Glycation - sugar is collagen’s ultimate nemesis
Sugar attaches to proteins in the bloodstream and produces harmful free radicals that can be particularly damaging to collagen. The process is called glycation and creates advanced glycation end products (or AGEs - quite a fitting acronym, really).
These, in turn, contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation. Collagen that once helped skin to be plump and firm is now weakened, making our complexion vulnerable to sugar face and those classic signs of ageing.
Avoid collagen supplements that contain sugar
If you’re taking collagen in the hope of slowing down these signs, then check that it, too, doesn’t contain sugary additives. Be especially vigilant to look out for sugars that may not sound like sugars. Liquids and gummies by their very nature are not 100% collagen and, more often than not, will include some form of sugar. If they are your daily source of collagen, then you may be taking one step forward and two steps backwards.
Does your collagen contain stevia or sugar?
If you’re taking collagen that is not from Edible Health, be sure to check the ingredients.
Stevia, erythritol, glucose syrup, glucose and fruit juice concentrate are some of the sugars found in collagen liquids, gels and gummies. A study has linked stevia with inhibiting the growth of Lactobacillus reuteri strains in the gut, suggesting this particular sugar could be adverse to the gut’s microbiome. As much as some brands might want you to think stevia is healthy, it’s an unnecessary daily sugar, and all commercial stevia is bleached. No, thank you!
Why take all the goodness of collagen if it is only going to be undone by sugar’s damaging effects?
How else might sugar and sweeteners be harming you?
Epigenetics is an emerging field of medicine demonstrating our food, our lifestyles, and our environment can all change our DNA. It was previously believed that our DNA was fixed, but this is not the case. There are many foods, sugar included, shown to damage and alter the DNA of our cells. Such damage can lead to diseases, including chronic inflammation and depression through to Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Erythritol and other sugar alcohols can cause nausea, gas, bloating and upset stomach - not ideal if you’re taking collagen to improve gut health. Even worse, most sources of this come from GMO cornstarch. In addition, they can cause allergic reactions and are toxic to dogs, making them a bad idea for our pet-loving customers who add our collagen to their dog food to help with joints, fur and overall well-being.
Sugar can be linked to tooth decay. Natural sugars found in whole pieces of fruit don’t have as much impact on dental health. However, squeezing or juicing the fruit releases sugars, which can be more problematic for dental health.
Sugar consumption and weight gain can often go hand-in-hand. Being overweight or obese can lead to so many health problems, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Most cancers
- Energy slumps
- Kidney and liver disease
Edible Health - 100% pure collagen goodness without sugar
There are three key reasons Edible Health is adamant our collagen will only ever be available in powder form.
1.0 Lifestyle flexibility - our collagen empowers customers to find the right serving size for them and to use it however they like, whether baked into bread, stirred into casseroles, added into smoothies or just spooned into tea, coffee or even water.
2.0 Powder form is the most effective option available on the market, offering the biggest serving size for the cheapest gram per gram price.
3.0 By selling only powder, we avoid the sweeteners and other nasty, harmful additives that have to go into shots, liquids, capsules, pills and gummies. Edible Health collagen powders contain absolutely no sweet-nasties in disguise. In short - no sugar, stevia, erythritol, xylitol (or other sugar alcohols), glucose, fructose, sucrose or high fructose corn syrup (more on this below).
Why you should not remove all sugar from your diet
It’s important to remember that sugars are not just the refined, overt offenders found in fast food like pasta, white rice, chocolate bars, doughnuts and fizzy drinks.
The body will convert whole grains, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables into glucose, an essential fuel source. So a broad-sweep effort to eliminate all and every possible sugar source from your diet is not the answer.
Yet whilst stopping glycation is not the solution, perhaps slowing it down is. Opting for brown rice over white or fruit over fizzy drinks will not only produce less glucose, but the release into the bloodstream can be slower.
How to eliminate unnecessary sugars from your diet
- Switch to Edible Health collagen for a daily serve of 100% pure collagen only - no sugar, no nasties.
- Consider starting a food diary - note down everything you consume and create a sugar column. Scour the list of ingredients to see where sugar might be lurking, and add this into your column. Run a tally at the end of the day or week. Prepare to be shocked by what is staring back at you in black and white!
- When you go to the supermarket, make a bee-line for the fresh aisles first and stock up there. It leaves less room for naughty nasties!
- Remove sugar from your tea and coffee. You might do this cold-turkey or bit-by-bit. If you prefer to wean yourself, then consider replacing sugar with honey. Incrementally reduce the amount until, hey presto, one day you realise that you simply don’t need it any more.
- Opt for whole grains like brown bread and rice and wholemeal pasta versus the white alternatives.
- Try plain yoghurt instead of flavoured. If you really can’t live without a bit of sweetness in your daily dairy, then consider adding your own through natural fruits.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks with sweet mixers and instead, go for spirits with soda water or wine that’s low in sugar.
- Swap regular chocolate for healthy, raw chocolate or very high percentage dark chocolate.
- Check ingredients for any added sugar. Many healthy products such as nut milks can be sweetened when really, they don’t need anything added.
- Beware of dried fruits and snack bars (healthy or otherwise) containing this. Not only is the natural fruit sugar concentrated because the fruit has been dried, but they are notorious for sticking in your teeth and creating rapid tooth decay.
- Switch out refined carbohydrates for healthier food - stop with the cereals, milk (which contains lactose - milk sugar) and switch to oatmeal with nut milk. Swap the cakes and cookies for keto or sugar-free treats. Ditch the pasta and pizza and find other recipes to tickle your taste buds.
Do you have any tips? We’d love you to share them with us!
Take home points:
- Be aware of the harmful effects of sugar on general health and collagen production.
- Check that the collagen you take does not include any sugar.
- Consider 100% pure collagen such as Edible Health powders.
- Experiment with some easy-win ways to reduce unnecessary sugar from your diet.
The information we have provided herewith and all linked materials are not intended nor should they be construed as medical advice. Moreover, the information herewith should not be used as a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions and consult your General Practitioner for advice specific for you.