Happy Wednesday Friends!
I recently sat down with my friend & founder of Shop Conscious Beauty, Merlyn Ellis, to talk about - what else - sugar! She recently completed my 2 week Sugar Detox program, and noticed one of the more subtle but still important effects of cutting back on sugars - improved skin health! Read on to learn about sugar's affect on skin and what we can do to keep our skin radiant and glowing:
Merlyn: So we know sugar is bad for us, but what exactly does sugar do to your body and to your skin?
January: 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.
Merlyn: We are often so focused on what we put on our skin. But what about how we fuel our body and skin... What are sugars we need to look for, and avoid?
January: 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.
Merlyn: 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?
January: 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, legumes, or ancient grains on their complex carbohydrate list.
Merlyn: What can be done, nutritionally, to boost or improve skin health?
January: In addition to cleaning up the sugar and focusing on nutrient density in your food:
- Eat healthy fats! Especially Omega 3 fatty acids, which can assist in reducing inflammation. Think: cold water fish and chia or flax.
- Consume 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.
- 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.
- Skin is the largest organ in our body and can absorb nutrients, so it's just as important to be picky about what you put ON your skin as what you put in your body...
Merlyn: So true. The average person uses about 9 personal care products each day, think soap, shampoo, face cleanser, moisturizers and the list goes on especially for women. In a matter of moments, what you apply to your skin can be absorbed into the blood stream. It’s equally important to start reading the ingredients in your skin care products, and as you probably guessed, there is a whole host of hormone disrupting, potentially toxic ingredients filling your bathroom cabinet. It’s important to apply skin loving products containing natural ingredients to help achieve hydrated PH balanced radiant skin.
January: From your perspective as an expert in organic and non-toxic skin care, What can we do topically to help with more radiant skin, from the outside in?
Merlyn: I recommend starting with a natural cleanser that will help remove impurities, such as dirt and makeup from the day, while leaving your skin hydrated (never tight). Try One Love Organic's Easy Does It cleanser.
Exfoliate with Astara Daily Refining Scrub. Organic aloe-based exfoliant combined with diatomaceous earth and joining them with nutrient-rich plant extracts for removal of dead skin cells. If you are looking for the deep cleanse of a buffing exfoliant that will help refine fine lines.
Renew and replenish a youthful glow with One Love Organics Love Springs Eternal Youth Preservation Serum (all skin types). This serum helps tone, moisturize and protect against environmental sources of aging.
January: SO there you have it; healthy on the inside, healthy on the outside skin care! And as a gift to you my lovely readers, use the code 'JANUARY' when you visit Shop Conscious Beauty and receive 15% off your first order!