Did You Know Drinking Soda Can Make You Look Older?
We all know soda isn’t exactly a health drink. All that sugar and high fructose corn syrup does nothing but add excess pounds and rot teeth. Though it may taste delicious and refreshing, the bottom line is that soda is just not good for the body.
One of the problems with soda is its high sugar content. One can of Coke, for example, contains 39 grams of sugar. According to the American Heart Association, men should consume no more than 37.5 grams of added sugar a day, and women only 25 grams.1 One can of Coke, then, already well exceeds this amount for both genders.
The negative effects of sugar are well documented. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to fatty liver disease, obesity, and hypertension. It can also increase your chances of getting diabetes.2 And there is new evidence that sugar is also detrimental to the skin, resulting in aging, inflammation, and dryness.
Here’s how drinking soda negatively impacts your skin:
1. Accelerates Skin Aging
New research suggests that drinking too many caffeinated, sugary drinks can, in fact, result in premature aging. A recent study from the University of California, San Francisco found that people who drank more soda had shortened telomeres. 3 Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes, and the shorter they are, the less a cell is able to regenerate.4 This lack of cell regeneration ultimately leads to faster aging. Moreover, telomeres are believed to be particularly important in skin cells, because they tend to shed and reproduce more quickly than other cells.
Drinking too much soda can also increase the process of glycation in the body. Glycation is a natural chemical reaction that occurs when a sugar molecule bonds to a protein. Too much of it can break down the elastin and collagen in the skin, accelerating the aging process significantly. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) have been linked to aging in new studies.5 The fructose in soda is considered to be highly reactive in forming AGEs. As a result of the effects of these AGEs, skin loses its elasticity, tends to sag, and may be more prone to wrinkling.6
Soda causes inflammatory reactions in the body.7 This, in turn, may lead to exacerbation of certain skin issues like eczema, a condition that causes chronic redness, dryness, and itchiness on the skin.8 Consuming too much soda might cause eczema flare-ups or make already itchy and red skin worse.
Some experts believe that soda can also cause cystic acne or make it worse.9 Cystic acne is one of the most severe forms of acne, characterized by deep, often painful lesions in the skin that often lead to scarring.10 It’s also often the most difficult type of acne to treat, since it occurs so deep in the skin. Due to soda’s inflammatory effects, it may increase the prevalence and frequency of acne flare-ups.
The sugar in soda has several unhealthy effects, one of which is an increase in testosterone levels.11 Increased testosterone in the body can affect skin in a variety of ways, including causing pores to enlarge and oil production to increase. This leads to a shiny, porous complexion that is less than attractive. It can also result in acne, particularly blackheads and whiteheads which occur when excess oil and skin cells block pores.12
Unfortunately, there’s more: The rise in testosterone levels also hardens blood vessels and leads to dehydration. 13 This leaves skin looking dull and dry, and it can even cause dark under eye circles to form. Dehydration saps skin of its natural plumpness, making one look older and more tired. Dehydration can also deepen existing wrinkles and fine lines, making them appear more noticeable.
The Good News
Soda is not your skin’s friend, but it’s an easily vanquished foe. All you have to do to fight the skin aging and eczema-exacerbating effects of soda is to simply stop drinking it. If quitting soda cold turkey is not an option, even reducing consumption can be extremely beneficial. And if you’re looking for ways to still enjoy soda, try making your own “soda water” by adding slices of fresh fruits to carbonated mineral water. However you decide to do it, you’ll quickly see the benefits, inside and out, of quitting sugary soda. You’re welcome!