By Sam Davis, BHS, CPT, FNS
Our bodies will always tell us what it needs, or doesn’t need, and this is the case with refined sugar. Not only does it expand our waistlines; it also wreaks havoc on our skin—and I’m not just talking about acne. So, can you improve your skin if you reduce sugar intake?
I’d like to make it very clear: I am not talking about sugar from fruit. I’m talking white, refined sugars found in breads, baked goods, frozen desserts, soda, candy, protein bars, salad dressing, condiments, and so much more. Start reading labels, and they will tell you exactly where this sugar is hidden.
Sugars most definitely be found naturally in foods as stated above. You can even find them in beverages or added to other processed foods to make them taste better. There are different forms: sucrose, glucose, fructose (from fruit), and lactose (from milk).
Refined sugar is highly inflammatory to our bodies. Not only is it inflammatory, but it can also lead to obesity, insulin resistance, and increased gut permeability. Our skin has a direct link to our gut, so if sugar is inflaming your gut, it will of course inflame the rest of your body—including your skin.
First things first, start figuring out where this sugar is located and what it looks like on a nutrition label. Below is a list of added sugars that are NOT found naturally. If you see them on the ingredients list, it means the food company adds sugar to make it taste better.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), men should only be eating 150 calories of extra sugar per day, or 37.5 grams. Women should consume no more than 100 calories per day or 25 grams.
So you first step to reducing your added sugar intake is to start reading labels. Then, try to stay within those parameters listed above.
Start slow. This goes with any diet change, but the funny thing about sugar is the hormonal influence it has in your body. When you eat sugar, it releases oxytocin in the body, also known as the ‘happy hormone’. That is why we get sugar cravings, we have actually become addicted to sugar by consuming more processed sugar than we should. With any addiction, it is important to ween your body off the substance slowly so we don’t have to suffer through the tough cravings period.
Two weeks is about as much as your body needs to ‘forget’ about sugar. After 2 weeks of a very low sugar diet (and getting through a few cravings) your body won’t have the strong need for sugar anymore.
The most obvious reduction of sugar starts from getting rid of the processed baked goods like cakes, cookies, and brownies. You can also start to reduce the amount of sugar you use in your coffee. Don’t add sugar? Awesome, but make sure you look at your creamer. Is it flavored? Yes? Most flavorings are packed full of sugar – that’s what makes them so yummy.
If you need more pro tips, check out another 1AND1 Life expert’s advice on how to cut out sugar.
2. Quitting sugar may slow the aging process: Most people who get rid of refined white sugars within weeks see a difference in the appearance of their skin. Without getting too science-y, sugar reacts with certain proteins in our body in a negative way. When we remove it, it can make our collagen and elastin work they way it’s supposed to—keeping our skin tight, and resilient.
3. Quitting sugar can also help psoriasis: This goes back to the inflammation and insulin levels. Sugar has actually been identified as a cause of psoriasis because of its inflammatory effects on our gut. Flare-ups are likely to become less severe and less frequent as you cut sugar from your diet.
Beauty begins on the inside. Start with these healthy tips, and then consider external improvements, like a post-workout skincare regimen. You won’t just look better; you’ll feel better.