What’s your go-to late-night snack? Is it sweets — maybe a homemade cookie or a scoop of ice cream? Or is it something a bit saltier, like popcorn or potato chips?
Whichever one you choose, I have some news for you that will make you think twice before diving into your bag of treats: both salt and sugar can rapidly age you. That’s right, even though these skin offenders are seemingly abundant in our lives today, they are actually speeding up the way that time shows on your face and your body.
But don’t go running and throwing out your sugar cans or salt shakers just yet — today I’m giving you a closer look at the aging effects of salt and sugar, and what you can do to make them work for your lifestyle.
Let’s start with sugar.
It may seem dramatic, but I actually like to call sugar the Sugar Demon because from the moment those sweet snacks hit your stomach they begin disrupting your microbiome by killing off good bacteria and feeding the bad bacteria. And when those bad bacteria multiply, your gut becomes swampier, meaning bloating, poor digestion, and zapped energy.
Now, I’m sure you’re saying, “what does this have to do with my skin?”
Well, the gut is the sheer foundation of your beauty! When your gut, your internal garden, is flourishing, you’ll see the natural beauty on the outside. But when it’s not… That’s a recipe for blemishes, fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Here’s the kicker though…
That pesky sugar demon isn’t just attacking you from the gut, it’s also interacting directly with your skin. Sugar increases the production of elastase and gelatinase, which are enzymes that break down your body’s supply of collagen and elastin. And let me tell you, you want to keep all that collagen and elastin right where it belongs!
Collagen is like your body’s roots. It’s in your skin, nails, hair, gut wall… everywhere. And it strengthens all these structures and keeps your skin firm and toned. Plus, elastin gives your skin that “bounce-back” effect to keep you firm.
“Okay, I get sugar. But what’s so bad about salt?”
Let me tell you how I feel about salt, without telling you how I feel about salt: I call it the Salt Sniper. This is because salt hides in almost everything you eat… and kills off the good bacteria in your gut like a skilled marksman, just like sugar does. And according to the CDC, a whopping 90% of Americans are eating way too much salt! So, I take this beauty blocker very seriously… and it’s something I’m extremely passionate about.
Salt decreases your body’s production of short-chain fatty acids, which are crucial to your foundational beauty. They play a key role in protecting your gut’s lining — you know, that wall surrounding your internal garden. So, when salt knocks them out, you’re going to be at a much higher risk for countless digestive issues, including bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, and leaky gut. (And you already know that leaky gut can lead to low energy, weight gain, brain fog, poor mood, and dull, lifeless skin.)
On top of all of that, heavily processed table salt also dehydrates your entire body. Some experts say that 75% of all Americans suffer from dehydration, which leads to dry patches, wrinkles, age spots, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes. So, you probably reach for some lotion and think it’ll do the trick and rehydrate your skin, right?
It’s okay. I used to do it, too. But remember, it’s what’s going on in all the layers beneath the surface that you should really be moisturizing. Because you, and your collagen strands, need lots of water to stay healthy. Without it, they begin to crack and clump together. Think of plump, juicy, ripe grapes. Now, imagine those grapes drying out and shriveling up into hard, dark, wrinkly raisins.
That’s your skin on salt.
Need I say more?
But before you go cutting sugar and salt out completely, I want you to know that’s not the answer. It isn’t helpful, and it simply isn’t sustainable, because there’s sugar and salt in everything — even vegetables. The solution is much simpler:
- Cut back on your sugar and salt intake.
- Eat more protein and healthy fat.
That’s really it! And I recommend protein and healthy fats because these foods are known to keep you full and curb your appetite. I find that “fat bombs” are a fun snack that revs up your metabolism, gives you a boost of energy, and sends those pesky cravings on their way. Plus, they’re a little sweet — without all the sugar.
Whatever your favorite feel-good food is, just remember that moderation is key, and there’s always a healthier, DKA-approved way to enjoy the things you love most.