You’ve probably heard of good fats and bad fats, but what about good sugars and bad sugars?
Sugar is a carbohydrate that is naturally found in a variety of foods. An example of good sugar is the naturally occurring sugar found in whole foods like fruit and vegetables. This type of sugar is bundled with water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients.
The bad types of sugar are regular table sugar (sucrose), added sugar, or the refined stuff you find in sodas, candy, cookies, ketchup, or processed foods. The recommended daily intake of sugar is approximately 6 teaspoons (25 grams). To put that into perspective, the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons (90 grams) of sugar per day. Many of us consume too much sugar without even realizing it because ready-made and processed foods, even savory ones like pasta sauce and bread, often contain added sugar.
So what effects does sugar have on your skin and overall health? What's the difference between eating glucose, fructose, sucrose, and artificial sweeteners?
Let's take a closer look at the effects of sugar on the body, the types of sugars out there, and how reducing our refined sugar intake can improve our skin and our health in the long term.
Is sugar getting your skin down? Check out our serious skincare range at RenewSkin Inc.
What Are The Main Types of Sugar?
Sugar comes in many forms, but at its most basic level there are four main simple sugars to be aware of:
Glucose – all sugar we consume is broken down into glucose in the body
Fructose – a.k.a. "fruit sugar"
Sucrose – a.k.a. "table sugar," this is the regular white granulated sugar we are most familiar with for baking and adding to our coffees. Sucrose is made of a combination of glucose and fructose.
Lactose – this is the natural sugar found in dairy products.
Each of these forms of natural sugar can be found in whole foods like fruit, vegetables, and milk. However, they are also often manipulated and added to processed food, which makes a difference to their nutritional value.
Put simply, the only entirely "good" sources of sugar are whole foods thanks to their well-rounded balance of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and any form of sugar that is added to processed food during manufacturing is not going to be good for your health.
What Does Sugar Do To Your Body?
Sugar has gotten a bad rap for its negative effects on obesity rates and heart health. Some nutritional experts believe that it is sugar, not fat, that has contributed to the obesity epidemic. Sugar supplies energy in the form of calories, but it provides little other nutrients in the diet. This requires our body to draw on nutrients from the rest of our diet to process the sugar, affecting our health and hurting our immunity.
Eating a lot of sugar also causes our blood glucose levels to spike, which makes us feel good momentarily, but then causes us to crash and have a slump in energy afterward. This lack of energy makes us feel tired and wanting more sugary foods. This vicious cycle can lead to weight gain, obesity, and an increased risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Recent studies have even suggested that sugar affects our brains in a similar way to drugs like cocaine, as it releases similar pleasure chemicals in the brain that lead to addiction. Addiction to sugary foods may even be similar to drug addiction as a medical condition that requires treatment and lifestyle changes.1
More helpful reading by RenewSkin Inc.: Skin care for diabetics
Avoiding Sugar: An Anti-Aging Strategy?
In addition to being bad for your waistline, sugar also has detrimental effects on your skin. When you consume too much of a simple carbohydrate like refined sugar, it rapidly breaks down into glucose and causes your insulin levels to shoot up, and this causes inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, leading to sagging skin and wrinkles.
The sugar you digest permanently attaches to the fats and proteins in your skin in a process known as glycation. Glycation forms advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which cause the protein fibers to become stiff and malformed. Collagen and elastin fibers, which are responsible for giving youthful skin a plump and smooth appearance, are the most susceptible to glycation.2
Glycation can make the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin become weak, discolored, and less smooth. This shows up on the skin’s surface as wrinkles and sagging. Glycation can increase the signs of aging skin, increase the risk of acne, and worsen skin conditions like psoriasis and rosacea.
More helpful reading:
Sugarcoating the Truth About Artificial Sweeteners
Some people who are trying to eat less sugar opt for sugar-free artificial sweeteners instead, thinking that they are a healthier form of sweetener. However, artificial sweeteners can sometimes be just as bad, if not worse, than regular sugar.
Sucralose, aka Splenda, is a popular artificial sweetener. Although sucralose contains no calories, a study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health linked it to harmful biological effects in the body. Sucralose was shown to reduce good gut bacteria, limit the absorption of therapeutic drugs, and release potentially toxic compounds when baked.3
Sucralose is also associated with inflammatory bowel disease, a medical condition that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Research published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2013 associated sugar substitutes containing sucralose with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.4
If you want something sweet, your best choice would be to use a natural sweetener like stevia. Unlike sucralose, stevia is plant-based and studies show that it is safe. It has no calories and is 200 times sweeter than sugar in the same concentration, but it doesn’t raise your blood sugar level.5
There are even studies suggesting that stevia has health benefits for conditions like hypertension. However, stevia may cause low blood pressure, which is a cause for concern among those taking blood pressure medications. Stevia may also interact with some medications, so it’s advisable to talk with your doctor before taking stevia in large amounts.6
More helpful reading by RenewSkin Inc.: How to detox your skin
Sugars That You Should and Shouldn’t Eat
It's impossible to avoid all sugar, and of course, we all need some sugar in our diets to give us energy. It's important to differentiate between the various types of sugars out there. Good sugars are the naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods like fruit and vegetables, where you will also get a mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other healthy nutrients into your system. Following a healthy balanced nutrition plan high in fruit and vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats will likely give you all of the natural sugar your body needs for energy, so it's important to minimize processed foods and added sugars as much as you can.
There are also many types of natural sugars that are marketed as being healthier alternatives to refined and added sugar, like coconut palm sugar. Coconut sugar is a brown sugar that is made from extracting, boiling, and dehydrating the sap of the coconut palm. Manufacturers of coconut palm sugar claim that it has a low glycemic index, which means that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels as much as table sugar does. Coconut sugar is also hyped up because it retains nutrients from sap. But just to get 1,030g of potassium or one-quarter of the recommended daily allowance, you would have to consume 100g (25 teaspoons) of coconut sugar, so the advantages are minimal. Coconut sugar shouldn’t be treated any differently than regular sugar because it provides just as many calories and carbohydrates, or about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates per teaspoon.7
In addition to stevia, some good naturally occurring sweeteners are honey, maple syrup, and blackstrap molasses. These natural sugars have a lower glycemic index than table sugar and thus are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. They also have added health benefits by providing other nutrients. For example, maple syrup contains up to 54 different types of antioxidants, honey has antimicrobial properties that help you fight colds, and blackstrap molasses is high in vitamins and minerals. Agave nectar isn’t considered a good option because of its high fructose content.
More helpful reading:
Why Fructose Is Bad for You
Fructose, or "fruit sugar," is an acceptable form of sugar when obtained from fruit in the diet.
In large doses, however, fructose is considered to be a form of bad sugar. It's hard to eat too much fructose from fruit alone. But with the proliferation of processed food in recent years, our fructose consumption has sky-rocketed.
Nearly every cell in the body can use glucose as energy, but only the liver cells are capable of breaking down fructose. A high intake of fructose has been associated with increases in obesity, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (rash and inflammation on your skin are among the symptoms of this health complication), according to Harvard Health.8
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Most fructose in the American diet comes from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and processed food that is high in added sugar, not fruit and vegetables, so it provides little in the way of nutrition besides calories. High fructose corn syrup is problematic because in the process used to make it, the glucose and fructose, which are naturally bound together, are separated. This causes the fructose to go directly to your liver, which leads to fatty liver, and in turn, diabetes. HCFS also contains other toxins from the chemical contaminants used during manufacturing.9
To avoid high fructose corn syrup, try to avoid eating processed and packaged foods with added sugars as much as possible, and opt for natural whole foods containing fiber and other nutrients that will have a more positive impact on your nutrition and overall health.
Watch Out For Added Sugar
Processed foods, ready-made meals, and packaged foods are all likely to contain a high amount of added sugar. Added sugar is used to improve flavor and extend the shelf-life of these foods. While most of us can't completely avoid these foods, we can be careful to check the nutrition labels to find out what types of sugar they use and the amount of added sugar a product contains.
Another important type of food to watch out for when it comes to added sugar is low-fat or fat-free dairy products. People trying to lose weight may opt for these dairy products but unfortunately, they can be harmful. These types of diet dairy products often contain added sugar to mask the lack of fat and improve their flavor.
That's why it's always essential to check the nutrition labels on packaged foods and dairy products to see what types of sugar they use. Some brands may use natural added sugar to sweeten their products. Luckily, there is a lot more choice available in the healthy produce aisles than there was 20 years ago. Find brands that you trust, ones that avoid added sugars and simple sugars, and instead focus on natural sugars like honey, maple, or of course, whole foods like fruit and vegetables.
We cannot avoid having sugar in our diet. The only way is to be smart about the type of sugar we take every day and try to follow a healthy diet with less sugar and more good nutrients like the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in whole foods. The best way forward is to find products that only use natural types of added sugar (or none at all) and take care not to exceed the daily recommended amount.
Reverse The Effects Of Sugar On Your Skin
Since most Americans consume way too much sugar in their daily diets, their skin is often vulnerable to premature aging. Eating sugary food and the resulting process of glycation damages collagen and elastin fibers in the body, and as a result, our skin becomes prone to dryness, wrinkles, and sagging much sooner than it ordinarily should.
That's where collagen supplements can help. Supplementing your daily diet with collagen can help you to replenish your body's natural collagen supplies and revitalize your skin. But, just like anything else you put in your body, it's important to do your research and find a supplement that works for you. The main things to look out for are:
High potency collagen – anything below 10,000 mg may not be beneficial
Good quality source of collagen – marine collagen is best for skin
- A supplement that has no nasty preservatives, additives, or sugar!
Taut Premium Collagen Drink is sweetened with natural stevia and real orange juice and contains no preservatives.
Each 1.7oz bottle contains just 2 grams of sugar and 13,000 mg of hydrolyzed marine collagen, alongside 6 other powerful anti-aging ingredients. Taut only uses the best, purest, and most effective ingredients to help restore your skin from within.
Drink Taut Premium Collagen every day to promote youthful radiant skin, replenish and repair collagen that has been damaged by glycation, and enjoy the delicious orange-flavored drink guilt-free, without the health concerns associated with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Visit our shop now if you’re interested to get firmer younger skin naturally with this simple addition to your beauty regimen!
Try Our 24-Day Transformation Program
If your skin is in need of rejuvenation, we recommend our Ms. Magnifique Transformation Program. This program contains a 24-day supply of Taut Premium Collagen Drink, along with Taut Bright and Taut Collagen Mask.
Taut Bright is our potent antioxidant supplement that works to detoxify your skin from the inside out. Its powerful formula targets pigmentation and the damage caused by the sun, computer screens, stress, and hormonal changes to promote a more luminous, radiant, and youthful appearance.
Taut Collagen Mask is a luxurious sheet mask infused with a rich collagen essence, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and botanical squalene to tone, hydrate, and brighten skin.
Together this program combines the antiaging skincare trio; collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid with potent antioxidants and cofactors of collagen. These skin-loving ingredients work together to fight fine lines and wrinkles, fade pigmentation, and hydrate and brighten your skin from the inside out and the outside in.
Still not sure? Talk to our skincare team today about finding the right transformation program for you.