What Happens to Your Skin After Drinking Soda

We all know sipping soda isn't quite the same as drinking a fresh pressed juice. You probably also know that on the spectrum of beverage choices, it's about as bad for your waistline as it gets. Even if your bubbly caffeine boost isn't causing you to gain weight, that doesn't mean you should sip freely. New research suggests the damage soda does to your body goes way beyond tipping the scale. We talked to Dr. Brett West, advisory board member of the A.G.E. Foundation and director of research at Morinda, to get the scoop on the effects of drinking soda.
Scroll through to find how it's really impacting your body and your skin.

For decades, researchers have been turning out studies that link drinking sugary drinks to obesity. But what about the svelte soda-drinkers? Are they just exempt from the damaging effects? According to a recent study from the University of California, San Francisco, no. They found that over time, drinking sugary soda can lead to premature aging, a range of diseases, and even a shortened life span. And the toll all of that sugar takes on your skin is shocking, and Dr. West says it all has to do with glycation.

There's a chemical reaction in your body called glycation that occurs when sugar attaches to a protein. It's a natural process and a certain amount of glycation is expected to happen throughout your lifetime. However, Dr. West points out that when there's too much, Advanced Glycation End-Products (or A.G.E.s) form and speed up the aging process. Long story short, A.G.E.s change your skin and how your skin cells function. In time, they'll destroy the elastin you already have and slow the production of new collagen. The result is dull, uneven, wrinkled skin.

This process happens whenever a person consumes too much sugar, but what makes soda especially dangerous is its chemical make up. Soda is made with table sugar, which is composed of glucose and fructose, and high fructose corn syrup. And according to Dr. West, if sugar is going to be part of your diet, you don't want it to be in the form of fructose. Fructose is highly reactive in forming A.G.E.s.

Dr. West says the effects can take years to show up on your face, so your best defense is to live a healthy lifestyle now. On top of keeping sugar to a minimum, be sure to exercise, get plenty of sleep, and avoid cigarettes. Because once you start to notice the negative effects A.G.E.s have on your skin, reversing those signs is not easy. It can be done with nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes, but it's not going to happen overnight. Dr. West's final piece is to watch what you eat and drink and never smoke. If you develop these good habits early, you can outsmart this process.

Could you ever swear off sugar entirely?