March 1st is the start of Detox Month established by many bloggers. While it isn’t an official ‘thing’ we think anytime you want to detox (as Martha Stewart is famous for saying) it’s a good thing. We have written on detoxing before so we got you covered there. One of the most important elements that you have to ‘detox’ from is sugar. Sugar is a tasty, satisfying, and addictive substance. It comes in various forms – processed white sugar, light and dark brown sugar, organic sugar, dark and light corn syrup, honey, molasses, agave and stevia just to name a few. (coconut sugar has less grams per serving but more importantly does retain some of its mineral properties) You may not even realize you’re eating sugar because it’s hiding in a lot of day-to-day things like condiments. Sadly, you don’t have to eat a piece of cake to be consuming a ton of sugar. Regardless of what kind of sugar you ingest, your body metabolizes it the same way.
What are the health benefits of sugar? Well, there isn’t one that has been discovered yet. Not a single solitary one. There is not one milligram of nutritional value in sugar.
How Sugar Hurts You
Sugar is unhealthy in a variety of ways: It damages the heart and increases the risks of heart disease, it feeds cancer, it damages your liver, and it accelerates aging and negatively affects brain function. It also contributes to that telltale sign of aging: sagging skin. Some of the sugar you consume, after hitting your bloodstream, ends up attaching itself to proteins, in a process called glycation. This process breaks down collagen (a protein that gives skin and hair structure and elasticity and naturally starts to break down when you get older anyways) and causes you to look older than you might be. These new molecular structures contribute to the loss of elasticity found in aging body tissues, from your skin to your organs and arteries. The more sugar circulates in your blood, the faster this damage takes hold. Sugar is also a dehydrating agent and as a result, it increases the production of oil in your system. That’s why dermatologists suggest reducing your sugar intake if you are struggling with breakouts. Sugar creates inflammation not only in your face (puffy after a sugary meal is one result) but in all of your organs as well. Your skin looks less radiant and perky and instead becomes saggy as you consume more sugar. By eliminating processed sugar and high glycemic index foods from your diet (think fruits such as bananas) you will take years off of your face. Love that glass of wine? The sugars (not to mention the sulfites) in wine are inflammatory to your body. Drinking white liquor – such as vodka, tequila or rum is actually much better for you. Dark circles under the eyes are also a result of too much sugar consumption. Why? Because many sleep disorders can be a result of too much sugar in your diet.
Cutting Down On Sugar
How do you avoid foods with too much sugar? The fastest and easiest way to cut down on sugar consumption is to totally eliminate any sort of processed food – anything that comes in a package is something you should never eat. Learn to read all the labels on items like ketchup, mustard, nut butters, yogurt, milk, soy sauce, jams, protein bars, etc. For instance Greek Yogurt has less sugar than regular yogurt. There are hidden sugars in all these foods, which you would never suspect.
If you are craving something sweet try dark chocolate that is not only satisfying but also filled with anti-oxidants. Milk chocolate has more sugar than dark chocolate.
Cut down on “healthy” or “natural” sugars such as honey, stevia or agave. As we said earlier your body cannot distinguish one sugar from another. Never drink soda or juice. The recommended daily intake of sugar for a woman is 25 grams – an 8-ounce glass of orange juice has 19 grams of sugar. A whole orange has 13 grams of sugar but at least with the whole orange you are getting 4 grams of fiber.
Skim milk and low fat products have more sugar than whole fat products of the same genre. The increase in the sugar level compensates for the lack of fat. Again, read the labels.
One food group that we find has a tremendous amount of sugar and is hailed as a healthy food is smoothies and smoothie bowls. When you consume a smoothie at a place like Jamba Juice, you are getting a weeks worth of sugar in just one smoothie. The smoothies at smoothie bars tend to be made with fruit juices so if you can, opt for the real deal, get the taste and the fiber of the whole fruit, and stay away from sugar laden items like frozen yogurt! We recommend making all your smoothies at home so that you can control the sugar in them.
High sugar items that you should try and avoid:
Fruits (from bad to worst)
- Potatoes (white)
Low sugar foods you should try and consumer more of:
- Leafy greens such as Kale and Spinach
- Brussels Sprouts
In our next blogpost we will give you a chart that will help you map out some easy ways to make longer term changes to your diet to enhance not only the brightness of your skin but the quality of it as well.
We here at The Pretty Feed follow our own advice and have found that our skin tone and the brightness of our skin has improved tremendously when we started two years ago! Let us know if you follow any of our suggestions.