Sugar's Affect on Skin

You might be thinking to yourself before reading this post, I’m not one of these people that eats THAT much sugar. This was the same response from Shop Conscious Beauty Co-Founder Merlyn Ellis who has just finished the first week of a Sugar Detox program. She was surprised to discover that sugar was literally hiding in just about everything!

Did you know that in the last 20 years, the amount of sugar each person consumes yearly in the United States has soared from 26 pounds per person to more than 135 pounds per person. Every. Single. Year. YUCK!

So today we are joined by January Newland Nutrition Coach, and wellness warrior as we like to think of her ;) to set the record straight on sugar, and how it is affecting our health and skin!

So sugar is bad for us, but what exactly does sugar do to your body and to your skin?

Imagine taking a piece of candy out of your mouth and holding it between your fingers… within seconds it becomes very tacky and sticky. This is a process called glycation – where the sugar reacts with proteins on our skin and creates bonds. the sticky feeling is the breaking of those bonds. This happens in your body when you consume sugar as well. Let’s say you eat that piece of candy and a few of its friends; your blood sugar will rise and so will insulin, which will cause inflammation throughout the body. The elevated blood sugar also reacts with the delicate collagen & elastin protein layers in our skin and creates glycation – the sticky bonds. Over repetition and time, these sticky bonds become known as Advanced Glycation End products, or AGEs – a sadly appropriate name! When the collagen layers of our skin are sticky with AGEs and can’t function properly to hold everything together, we can experience wrinkles, sagging, cellulite, and trouble healing from skin damage.

We are often so focused on what we put on our skin, when we should be also focusing on how we fuel our skin. What are sugars we need to look for, and avoid? All simple sugars and carbohydrates will cause that big elevation in blood sugar and insulin – white bread, pasta, candy, fruit juice, soda, cookies, pastries & desserts. Even foods thought of as more “complex” carbohydrates can be problematic if eaten frequently and in large quantities: whole grains, wheat bread & crackers, rice, honey, maple syrup, and fruit. You read that right – the sugar in fruit, or Fructose, can be especially problematic and contributes to the aging process when consumed in high quantities, so be sure to avoid excess sugary fruits, agave (mostly fructose), and especially high fructose corn syrup. Also skip the artificial sweeteners.

I’ve been starting my day with a green smoothie. It’s eye opening to think that by the time I have added a banana, mixed berries and a date or two that I could be consuming much larger quantities of sugar than I thought! Are there any sugars you should eat? A diet for healthy skin will include some sugar from complex carbohydrates in nutrient-dense veggies & fruits – think sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and other root vegetables, squashes, and most berries. Some people will be able to include properly prepared beans and legumes on their complex carbohydrate list.

What can be done to counter act sugars effect on skin. In addition to cleaning up the sugar and focusing on nutrient density in your food, eat some healthy fats! Especially Omega 3 fatty acids, which can assist in reducing inflammation. I also recommend consuming skin-building collagen & glucosamine by drinking bone broth. Hydrate well & often. Water aids in flushing our kidneys, which do the work of removing AGEs from the bloodstream. I also love a good mask before bed. My favorite from has been the Astara Blue Flame Purification Mask. It’s super important to allow your body ample time for its natural healing processes to occur, during sleep! Sleep requirements vary, but most people need more than they think – 8-9 hours per night of quality rest.

January Newland is a fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and nutrition coach in San Diego, California. She works with clients nationwide through her online course, the January Wellness Sugar Detox, and teaches regularly at Barry’s Bootcamp San Diego and CorePower Yoga. January helps clients heal & strengthen using food as medicine, and educates about the ancient nutritional wisdom passed down from our ancestors. To learn more about her Sugar Detox which start on May 18th, visit her website.

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