You’ve probably know that too much sugar isn’t good for your waistline but did you know too much sugar is also bad for your skin? Did you know ingesting large amounts of sugar can cause you to age more quickly? Have you ever woken up and noticed your face looked puffy or swollen? Do you have acne despite efforts to keep your skin clean? Much of the time, this is caused by too much sugar in the diet and here’s why:
As soon as you eat anything with sugar, your body breaks down the sugar (carbohydrates) into glucose. Glucose causes insulin levels to rise and too much sugar causes “spikes” in the insulin levels. The spiking insulin levels are what give you that burst of energy, which is generally followed by a feeling of being tired or lethargic. This spike in insulin levels also results in inflammation, and inflammation affects your skin by producing enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. This eventually results in wrinkles and sagging of the skin. Additionally, any carbohydrate (sugar) that is not used right away gets stored as fat on the waistline, hips, thighs, etc.
Today there is added sugar in so many foods, so how do you know what to eat and what not to eat?
- Stay away from all REFINED and SUPER –RREFINED sugars. Refined and Super-Refined sugars are what cause the rapid spikes in insulin and that are bad for your body and skin. They are also known as simple carbohydrates, and they provide a short burst of energy, no nutritional value and they are strenuous on the body to process and digest. Refined literally means that all the color and impurities are removed. The white granulated sugar that we use for baking or stir into coffee is an example of refined sugar. Other obvious examples of refined sugars are in cookies, cakes, donuts, etc. Super-refined sugar is what ends up in manufactured products such as soda and is hidden in the ingredients of many foods you might not suspect including all kinds of white bread, frozen meals, tomato sauce, canned foods, salad dressing, and the list goes on and on.
- Sugar that you eat should be in the form of a complex carbohydrate, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit (just don’t overdo it on the fruit; one serving a day is plenty). These sugars provide energy as well as nutrition for the body and are much easier for the body to digest. In fact, complex carbohydrates are generally high in fiber and are therefore essential to the body to aide in digestion. Sugar is also in many dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, which are good sources of protein so you shouldn’t eliminate these from your diet. Just go with a yogurt that is low in sugar or plain yogurt. For cheese, no more than one serving a day (typically 1-2 ounces) is fine, and stick with a more firm cheese, such as cheddar.
One way to commit to having beautiful skin and a healthy lifestyle is to start monitoring your sugar intake. If you currently consume a lot of foods with refined sugars, then I don’t recommend trying to quit all of them, all at once. Your body will actually be addicted to sugar if you consume it regularly enough so you will have to slowly remove foods from your diet in order to avoid headaches and major cravings. Here are some tips to cut down your on sugar intake:
- Often a sugar craving is really a sign of dehydration. Make sure you are staying hydrated throughout the day. By now, everyone has heard that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day but keep in mind, this is really just the minimum amount of water you should drink! If you exercise and or spend time sweating in the sun or sauna, you definitely need more than eight 8 ounce glasses if water. Personally, I recommend a gallon of water per day for the average adult and more if you exercise or work up a sweat.
- Eat regular meals throughout the day to avoid feeling hunger that often leads to major cravings and bad food choices. 4-6 small to medium sized meals are better than 3 large meals and don’t skip breakfast! Make sure that you have at least 10-20 grams of protein at each meal and strive for the daily recommended amount of fiber per day (25 grams for women and 38 grams for men) to help you stay full longer.
- Be very aware of any cravings that are triggered when you feel emotional, angry or upset. Emotional eating is very common so it’s important to identify if emotions are affecting your food choices so you can redirect your cravings to healthier habits.
- Always read labels on the food you buy. Look at how many grams of sugar are in a product per serving and look at the ingredients for added sugar or fructose. Some foods like tomato sauce often contain a lot of added (and unnecessary) sugar but you can find some brands that don’t add sugar so always go with those when possible.
It’s very difficult to avoid sugar completely and not necessary to do so if you are consuming it in moderation. Too much of the wrong kind of sugar is just plain bad for your health and beauty. Being aware of how much sugar is in the food you eat each day is the best way to ensure you’re making healthy choices and taking care of you!