Sugar is Sweet but Not for your Skin

Sugar is Sweet but Not for your Skin

by Heather Burchfield

Sugar is 2016’s villain and fat is getting some much needed vindication. We’ve known for a while that issues with managing blood sugar can lead to diabetes (which is of epidemic proportions in the U.S.), but sugar is now being associated with cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. When we think of sugar, we can’t limit our thinking to the usual suspects–donuts, ice cream, cookies and cake. Be sure to include juices, dairy, breads, crackers, pasta, cereal, beans, and if you become a label reader, you will see sneaky corn syrup added to all sorts of condiments and other processed foods that you wouldn’t even consider–like in beef jerky? Basically, the modern American diet is chalked full of sugar!

A quick biology refresher on how sugar affects us. The human body balances blood sugar levels by engaging in a pretty intricate dance with hormones like insulin, glucagon and cortisol. The liver can only process so much sugar and the rest is stored as….you guessed it…fat. Sugar also causes major inflammation in the body, which has a hand in artery damage and high cholesterol, adrenal fatigue, and bad bacteria and yeast build up in the digestive system. Unfortunately, some of that damage can show up on our skin as acne, dark under eye bags, dry and wrinkled skin, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.

Here are some nutrition-based tips to help avoid unnecessary sugar and bring some of that naughty inflammation down, which will lead to brighter, clearer skin.

1) Digestion is affected by sugar. If you need a refresher on just how important digestion is to all things you, then click here. Be sure you are taking a good probiotic. If you have terrible inflammation, it may behoove you to meet with a nutrition specialist and engage in a sugar detox diet. This will help clear the digestive system of yeast and bad bacteria and get your system ready to absorb some anti-inflammatory goodness!

2) Rethink what carbohydrates you consume. Roughly 40% of your plate should consists of carbohydrates, which should be mostly leafy greens. A small portion of that 40% can be starchy–potatoes or complex carbohydrates like quinoa or brown rice. These carbs, especially the leafy greens, contain yummy antioxidants, fiber and nutrients that fuel and heal the body vs. causing a blood sugar surge and inflammation.

3) Watch the Dairy. Sugar addicts tend to eat more dairy than others. Why? Because milk, for example, has a fair amount of lactose or sugar. It feeds that sugar fix. If you are having major skin issues like acne or psoriasis, try limiting your dairy intake.

4) Skip the juice and go for the smoothie. Juicing provides a lot of benefits, don’t get me wrong, but traditional juicing methods of extracting just the juice and leaving out the skin and meat of the vegetable and/or fruit means leaving out important fiber that helps the body to more slowly process the juice (which is high in sugar) and avoid a blood sugar surge. Invest in a blender that will blend the whole vegetable and/or fruit and keep the ratio higher in vegetables.

5) Up your Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and provide loads of benefits to the body and skin. Stock up on walnuts, wild caught salmon, and flax seed, or take a fish oil supplement! Additional anti-inflammatory super foods: Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, fermented foods, blue berries, and leafy greens.

Follow these suggestions to help battle the effects of sugar and minimize inflammation in the body, which will help you look and feel fabulous! Stay tuned for more articles on nutrition and skin!

About the Author: Heather Burchfield is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach and Pilates Instructor who lives in Charleston, SC. She enjoys working with clients to help improve their health so they can truly live, love and enjoy a vibrant life. For more information on Heather’s services, please email