Sweet tooth? I like to say that all my teeth are sweet because I can become an absolute sugar fiend if I don't watch myself. I've been known to stash swedish fish in my glove box, peanut butter cups in my night stand and count the days to my once-weekly skinny vanilla latte. I found myself in the Target candy isle today(knowing full well I was writing this article), just gazing at the numerous options. However, sugar(and artificial sweeteners) is one of the easiest ways to pack on the pounds and ruin your healthy skin, so I've adopted many tricks to avoid refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
What sugar does to your body
Sugar ages us
Refined sugars are extremely toxic. They severely mess with your energy levels, mood and cravings. The breakdown of sugars damages collagen which is needed to keep our skin firm, plump and smooth.
Sugar causes acne
Sugars and starches change your body's hormonal balance which can cause hormonal acne, something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy!
Sugar causes inflammation
Whenever blood sugar levels are high, our bodies have a pro-inflammatory response. Inflammation can show up in a multitude of ways but one of the first signs can be your skin. Have sensitive skin? Red, itchy, scaly, and dry? Check your sugar intake.
The Glycemic Index
You may have heard of this before but not really known what it meant. It's the measure of the effect of a food on your blood sugar. We should avoid too many high-glycemic foods, however it's ok to eat foods with a higher GI if they're super healthy and full of fiber, such as bananas. A colorful diet filled with fiber and unrefined whole carbs helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Empty refined carbs with a high GI should be avoided.
Types of Sugar
Fructose occurs naturally in fruits. Unfortunately, fructose is now over-used in many of the processed foods we eat, creating such a toxic load, that it can cause strain on your liver. When your body is working so hard to process all that fructose, your liver cannot do it's regular, beautifying job.
Glucose isn't traditional sugar, it's what our body creates from starches and then uses it to raise our blood-sugar levels, putting strain on the pancreas which is a vital organ for regulating insulin levels.
Sucrose (table sugar)
Derived from sugar cane or sugar beets, the body processes table sugar as it's individual components, Fructose and Glucose. The glucose is used as the body's main energy but the excess fructose energy is sent to fat stores.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
This is a blend of ultra-refined fructose and glucose but with a super high dose of fructose. Fructose gets converted into fat more quickly than glucose so it's very fattening, as studies have shown... more fattening than regular white sugar. High fructose corn syrup can cause oxidative damage to our skin, breaking down collagen and causing more wrinkles.
Although agave has been touted as a healthy and low-glycemic alternative to sugar, it actually has a fructose content of up to 90% - which is higher than high fructose corn syrup! Remember, fructose is detrimental to your skin! It's also a highly processed sweetener, often involving chemicals and heating. What we buy off the shelves is a far cry from the natural agave found in nature.
Despite the fact that they are healthier alternatives, these should all be used in moderation.
This natural herb is the best option which can be used in a powder or liquid form. There's a lightly bitter aftertaste but I don't personally mind it.
Although honey does contain fructose, it is a whole, natural, unprocessed food. Be sure to buy raw honey, organic if possible. Even better, buy local honey - it could help soothe your allergies as a bonus!
Brown Rice Syrup
Coconut nectar comes from the healthy sap of the coconut tree. It's full of enzymes, minerals and amino acids and is low glycemic.
I'm munching on dates as I write this because, it's hard to write about sweets without eating sweets and... I'm pregnant.
I like organic medjool dates, packed with fiber and potassium. Fiber helps slow the release of sugar into our bloodstream. They're chewy sweet and almost caramelly to snack on, but also an amazing sweetener in recipes, especially smoothies!
Real Pure Maple syrup is heat-processed but still natural and lower in fructose. I love using maple syrup in baked recipes.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally found in fruit and vegetable fibers. It's my personal favorite choice for a white sugar substitute because it taste just like sugar and can be used in equal measures but has fewer calories and is low glycemic. Bonus: it can help fight cavities and is an ingredient in many chewing gums!
Love gummy bears, swedish fish, starbursts and jelly beans?
Swamp them for organic dried strawberries sweetened with juice, medjool dates, or organic golden raisins!
Love your chocolate?
Try raw cacao powder. This is the unrefined form of cocoa, which still contains all of it's nutrients. There's no sugar in it so you can mix it with your fave sweetener to make an amazing dark chocolately dessert! There are also many chocolate bars available now which are sweetened with honey or stevia. Just check your local wholefoods or health food store.
Love Ice Cream?
Try making your own Nice Cream, blend a few frozen bananas in your food processor or vitamix, even add in a few dates if you like it sweeter. Or blend up some strawberries, pour it into molds and freeze them for fruit popcicles! I love to make them for my daughter, mango-banana-spinach is amazing.
Boycott Artificial Sweeteners
These sweeties have many of us fooled but come with potential health risks, avoid them at all costs!
Aspartame (nutrasweet & equal)
This is a toxic substance that may damage or kill nerve cells due to over-stimulation, of eaten in high concentrations. An alarming number of adverse reactions have been reported to the FDA, more in fact, than any other food ingredient in FDA history. Aspartame is partially made of methyl ester - which breaks down to formaldehyde - yikes! In addition, aspartame can actually cause weight gain. The chemicals it contains can actually stimulate the release of hormones that tell our bodies to store fat. As if that weren't enough, it can also decrease serotonin levels that can cause food cravings and inhibit the "I'm full" signal in our brains.
Saccharin (sweet n low)
Studies have shown that foods containing saccharin can cause greater weight gain and body fat than sugar-sweetened foods. No Thanks
According to studies, sucralose lowers good bacteria in the intestines and contributes to weight gain.
"The Beauty Detox Solution" by Kimberly Snyder
Argan Republic cannot be held responsible for any actions made, implied or expressed by anyone as a result of this guidance.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are in no way intended to heal, prevent or treat any illness. Please consult your doctor if you are seeking medical advice.