052: Blood Sugar Imbalances And Skin Problems w/ Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo

Blood sugar imbalances can be hard to spot. And it might surprise you to learn that well-balanced blood sugar is important for maintaining healthy skin.

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My guest today is Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, licensed Doctor of Chiropractic with Certifications in Acupuncture, Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, and HeartMath®.

As the founder of the Institute of Nutritional Endocrinology, Dr. Ritamarie specializes in using the wisdom of nature to restore balance to hormones with a special emphasis on thyroid, adrenal, and insulin imbalances. She has trained and certified hundreds of practitioners in the art of using palate-pleasing whole fresh food as medicine.

Best-selling author, speaker, and internationally recognized nutrition and women’s health authority with over 25 years of clinical experience, Dr. Ritamarie offers online courses, long-distance coaching, counseling, and informative live events.

Join us as we talk about all things blood sugar: why it's important, how it affects the skin, and how to balance it.

Has your skin condition improved after balancing blood sugar? Tell me about it in the comments!


In this episode:

  • Why should you care if your blood sugar is not well balanced?
  • More effective ways than the fasting glucose marker to tell whether your blood sugar is imbalanced
  • What if a fasting blood sugar level is all you have?
  • Can stress impact your blood sugar?
  • Symptoms of possible blood sugar imbalance
  • Why is what we eat important?



“Blood sugar regulation is important because every cell in the body needs to get a source of energy, a source of fuel, in order to do its thing. So in order for skin cells to be able to reproduce properly and get the right nutrition in, there needs to be a balance in blood sugar and the escort hormone (called insulin).” [3:06]

“When insulin resistance starts, we get a lack of nourishment to all of our cells. Skin included.” [5:00]

“The mechanism is: when we perceive stress, our blood sugar goes up, our cortisol goes up. Because that's what the adrenals do. They produce cortisol. And one of cortisol's jobs is to raise the blood sugar and the blood pressure and the heart rate and the respiration rate.” [11:28]



Find Dr. Ritamarie online

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List of Labs For Your Skin To Ask Your Doctor About


052: Blood Sugar Imbalances And Skin Problems w/ Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hey everyone. Today I've got a very special guest. I'm quite honored to have her with me. Her name is Dr. Ritamarie. Many of you probably know of her work. She is quite well known and incredibly well respected and from what I have known of her, cause I've had the opportunity to meet her now and get to know her personally, she is truly a wonderful person so it's an honor to have her here on the Healthy Skin Show. She is a licensed Dr. of Chiropractic with certifications in acupuncture, nutrition, herbal medicine and heart math. As the founder of the Institute of Nutritional endocrinology, she specializes in using the wisdom of nature to restore balance to hormones: with a special emphasis on thyroid, adrenal and insulin imbalances. She has trained and certified hundreds of practitioners in the art of using palate-pleasing whole foods as medicine and she's got over 25 years of clinical experience under her belt and now offers online courses, long distance coaching, counseling and informative live events. Dr. Ritamarie, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Ritamarie: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here and share whatever I can with your audience.

Jennifer: You have this trove of information in your, in your brain and from the many years of experience, not just working in a clinical setting, but also to training practitioners and I figured you'd be the best person to talk about blood sugar because that's really your wheelhouse. I know we were talking before this interview about blood sugar spikes and imbalances and how that could play a role in skin flares. So what would you share with someone if they were admitting to the fact that they know that their blood sugar is not in a good spot, they're really struggling. Maybe they're not eating such a great diet, lots of sugar and whatnot. How is this connected? Why should they care?

Dr. Ritamarie: Yeah, so there's a number of connections here and I'll try to make it as simple as possible because the science behind it can be pretty complex. But what first of all, most people don't realize they have a blood sugar issue. There's a lot of people who know, but majority of people with blood sugar issues don't even know. And they usually only find out when they come to a program that we do and we teach them how to test around sugars and they're shocked to find either super high spikes or super low valleys and wow, it's a big thing that happens. So I like to look at the body as an integral whole, right? So when you look at skin, you don't just give people some steroids to put on their skin, which is out of your scope, but you don't just tell them, oh, here's an alternative to steroids. Take this cream. No, you're looking at it from the inside out. So we need to be healthy from the inside out to affect our skin, our hair, nails, etc. And in particular the kind of flare ups that people with psoriasis and Eczema and other kinds of chronic skin conditions. So the thing that we all have to keep in mind is that the blood sugar regulation is important because every cell in the body needs to get a source of energy, a source of fuel, in order to do its thing. So in order for skin cells to be able to reproduce properly and get the right nutrition in, there needs to be a balancing blood sugar and the escort hormone called insulin. And when all this is working properly and the gut is working properly, cause I'm sure you have other people have talked about the gut in the relation to skin though there's a big connection between blood sugar and the gut health. So when everything's working properly, the body has this ability to heal. And I don't agree with or believe in a “this for that” approach, although there may be some real nice topicals that they can use to help with the skin while they're working on the root cause. So what I find is that a lot of people don't even know they have a blood sugar issue because when they go to the doctor and the doctor is only looking at their fasting blood sugar and the fasting blood sugar can be perfectly normal, but after certain meals, it's spiking and not just the meals you mentioned too, which obviously nobody should be eating, right? That sugar, you know, all that kind of stuff that people eat, but even some of the healthier foods that have hidden sources of sugar in them, you know, things like honey and molasses and all, but also fruit juice. And even for some people, the sweet tropical fruits can cause blood sugar imbalances. And what that can lead to is a condition called insulin resistance, which is where insulin, which is, you know, the escort service for glucose to take it into the cells so the cells can do their thing and repair and nourish themselves. When that over time becomes resistant, the cells go, ah, there's been too much of that stuff in my system for too long and it stops. And when insulin resistance starts, we get a lack of nourishment to all of our cells. Skin included. So the skin is a recipient and the skin is one of our detox organs too, right? So when we get like flooded with too much sugar, that can create an imbalance in the gut, an overgrowth of funguses and Candida and things like that. And then that can lead to skin problems. So there's a direct route, which I would say is the skin cells not actually getting the fuel supply they need to reproduce themselves properly and to overcome whatever these other stressors are. And also insulin resistance can lead to inflammation, which we all know is the underlying cause in skin issues.

Jennifer: And inflammation is a huge piece to this. It drives so many problems. And for many people, I mean even the biologic medications actually cut off specific pathways that generate inflammation. So we know that inflammation is a big deal in this. But you said something that I think a lot of people would be curious to know more about. You mentioned that fasting glucose marker, and it's not really the best marker to go by. So if someone was to download their labs after listening to this, not while, pay attention everyone, what markers should they look for or maybe ask if they're headed to the doctor soon to go get their blood work?

Dr. Ritamarie: Great question. Because if they just got the standard lab that the doctor would order, they're not going to see the stuff in there that is going to be telling. So there's two markers. One is hemoglobin A1C, which is usually only run after a person is diagnosed as diabetic. And so usually when a person first gets their hemoglobin A1C measured, it's off the charts high because it's not measured as a precautionary early indicator. And it's a great early indicator. If you've got normal fasting blood sugar, let's just say it's 80, which is a really good fasting blood sugar, but your hemoglobin A1C is 5.6, 5.8, 6 or above, that means that you're fasting is good, but the rest of the day after you're eating, you're having all these really high levels. Right? So it's a really good early marker. Hemoglobin A1C and also insulin. So if you just measure insulin, again, it's not even often measured in diabetics unless there's a suspicion that they are type one diabetic, but it's a really good early indicator of overall health status. And so when the fasting insulin is high, and in my opinion above five is high, although labs will say, Oh above 12 is high. If you're in that five to 12 range, you're already heading for a problem. And as we work with people in an integrative fashion in a holistic fashion and a preventable fashion, we want to detect imbalances in the body before they become a diagnosable disease. So we can look at insulin and we want to keep it in the three to five range. And we can look at hemoglobin A1C and I actually like to keep it in the five to 5.2 range or 4.8 to 5.2 that's getting a little high. That's about as high as I'd want it to go. And most people when they first tested this was true for me. I got it tested and I'm like 5.6 that's borderline, right at the borderline, of insulin resistance. And that means that for a lot of the time in my waking hours, my blood sugars are going high because I know my fasting is only 80 so I know during the night it's good, but what's happening after we eat? So it's really important that we get this under control.

Jennifer: Now I have another question for you. You know, you have this range that you just shared with everybody, but what about when they've had like a comprehensive metabolic panel and they fasted, you know, everybody, if you fast, if you haven't, blood tests don't exercise the morning, just drink some water and go to the lab. But what if somebody's fasting blood glucose level was 96 you're heading. Sure. Cool. So where it, even just with that, if that's all they have right now, you know, the normal ranges for conventional medicine are so different.

Dr. Ritamarie: So here's what I think. If your fasting blood sugar is in the nineties or higher, we know you have a problem. Okay, there's a problem there. Right? And it really ideally should be 75 to 85. You know, it'd be really optimal or below that if you're doing more of a ketogenic type of diet, it can be definitely 60s or even 50s for some folks. But that's something else to talk about, right? Cause too low isn't good either. Unless you're in Ketosis. But that's another story for another day.

Jennifer: Well, I have, I have an interesting story to share. Some of my listeners have also heard this, that my eczema started while I was in Grad school, so it's under a ton of stress for three years. The last year of Grad school was when my hand Eczema started. And at the time I also had these crazy blood sugar swings that would happen during the day where I would get so groggy and out of it at like two o'clock that I'd have to go lay down for two or three hours. And I started putting on weight. I really didn't feel well. So like you, I asked for my hemoglobin a one C to be tested and it was right on the border of being prediabetic and I started to freak out. You know, having skin issues in and of itself is incredibly stressful and traumatic, not just the daily worry about is my skin going to flare up today? Is it going to be a good day or bad day? Or if you're in the middle of a flare and you're in a lot of pain or up all night itching, whatever. So can you talk a little bit about how stress, the stress that we experience, can that impact your blood sugar as well?

Dr. Ritamarie: Oh my God. Yeah. It's one of the major causes. In fact, it's a physiologic process to cause the blood sugar to go up during stress because think about it, stress as a biological mechanism that evolved over time was actually something that is to protect us from predators: That tiger's chasing me. That lion's chasing me. I got to get away. And so the mechanism is: when we perceive stress, our blood sugar goes up, our cortisol goes up. Because that's what the adrenals do. They produce cortisol. And one of cortisol's jobs is to raise the blood sugar and the blood pressure and the heart rate and the respiration rate. So you can get away from the tiger.

Jennifer: Your skin is not a tiger!

Dr. Ritamarie: Right, exactly. And Grad school studying and all that. There's no tiger there and you're not physiologically needing that blood sugar there to, yeah, you need the blood sugar when you're going to be running away from a tiger, you need to have that mobilization. But that's what happens. So you're running around, you're in Grad school, you're trying to study, you're trying to make deadlines, write papers and the cortisol levels are raging. Your blood sugar's raging. You hard to say. Going back, you might've had these big peaks in blood sugar and then very big crashes because you are young and you probably didn't have insulin resistance per se, fully blown. But you had these spikes and these valleys and spikes and valleys. But the interesting thing is a lot of folks think that they have low blood sugar when they experienced what you had and they actually have very, very high blood sugar, but the sugar is in the blood, not in the cells. So that's an indicator. I've people who had done my programs and they'll go, oh my God, I ate the salad and I put raisins on my salad today instead of just eating the salad and my sugars shot up to 200 and I experienced the old feeling that I used to think was low blood sugar. Right. All this sugar in the blood but nothing getting into the cells.

Jennifer: Now that you mentioned that, can you list out some other symptoms cause I have, one of the things I've been encouraging people to do is to look beyond the skin. Don't just look at the skin symptoms and fixate on that. You need to dig deeper into what's going on and make a list of all the different symptoms that you have. So what would be some symptoms as they're making their own personal inventory that could be indicative of blood sugar issues?

Dr. Ritamarie: Well, you just made this easy on me because what you described as what happened to you in Grad school, exhaustion middle of the day, like debilitating tiredness or just that low energy where you go, just grab a cup of coffee and you know, it'll be fine. Go to the candy machine and get some sugar and I'll be fine. Which is what I used to do. Not with coffee, but black tea, 10 cups a day. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or Diet Pepsi, you know, whichever Coke. But it was the caffeine that I needed. So that need for caffeine to keep you going, whether it's to get you started or to keep you going or that slump at four in the afternoon. That's an indication. The other thing is what you mentioned was gaining weight. And I bet if you were to look back, most of that weight was around your midsection. Gaining weight around the midsection. That's another one. I'm feeling hungry, even after eating a big meal. Like I just ate a big meal. Why am I ravenous? Or wanting sweets after a big meal or having cravings for sweets, but eating them doesn't satisfy the craving. You just keep wanting to go more. And this is another connection with blood sugar and skin because all of those things throw off the skin, right? The sugars and the bad fats that we eat in the candy bars and all that sort of stuff that affect our body's ability to maintain and control inflammation. Right? So those are some of being too wired at bedtime to go to sleep but too tired in the morning to get up that tired and wired feeling that we associate with adrenal fatigue could actually be a sign of blood sugar imbalance. You know? So those are some of the ones that the most common ones that people might see.

Jennifer: And I know, we know we don't have a ton of time, so I don't want to go deep into it because youhave really great gift for everybody. Foods are a big piece to this. Like we can make better choices with what foods that we eat. And as you mentioned, like tropical fruits can sound to, I know I have clients that will come to me and they're eating like the whole container from whole foods of the cut up Papaya and banana and pineapple. It's too, it's just too much and people don't realize sometimes there is too much of a good thing that you have to oftentimes make better choices and stick within certain serving sizes and maybe too for you, those just aren't a good option. Um, but you've got a great uh, checklist that everyone who's listening can have called Foods that can reverse belly fat, fatigue and the lack of focus”. And this list includes foods and herbs that are going to help everyone who's listening begin to restore that insulin sensitivity that you've talked about that we really need. When the cells are having a problem they're just not listening to insulin essentially. And, and we'll put a link to that in the show notes, but before we sign off, just any final thoughts on like the food piece that you would love for people to know and why this would be a great resource for them?

Dr. Ritamarie: Greens are your friend. And I know that as kids, you know kids don't like to eat their greens. Greens are your friend because they're loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and magnesium, which is very important for maintaining blood sugar control. They're also good for skin, right? So greens are amazing. And Omega three fats you really, most people are out of balance with Omega six and Omega three, which is creating inflammation. So when we eat enough of the Omega threes and those can be on the plant side, that could be chia seeds and flax seeds and hemp seeds and walnuts and Spirulina and other, you know, micro Green Algaes, purslane. And then there's on the, on the the animal side, fish like deep ocean fish. But being careful where you're getting it from and not to do too much because of the mercury possibility. So those are the Omega threes, but the other side, which is the Omega six which most people get way too much is all your oils, you know, your safflower, your sunflower, not olive, because it's an Omega nine. Pecans and sunflower seeds and almonds and pumpkin seeds and all those are very high in Omega six and because of the oils that people eat a lot of and they're in processed foods, we ended up getting an Omega six to three dominance and when we do that we're more prone to inflammation. And guess what? You're not going to heal your skin.

Jennifer: Well this is great. This is a great resource. And then also too, you have a book: unstoppable health, seven breakthrough habits to feel younger, grow stronger and enjoy more energy. And I will put a link to that so that everybody can go check it out as well. And Dr. Ritamarie, you've got a great website. Where can everybody find you?

Dr. Ritamarie: Yeah, it's just doctorritamarie.com and if you're a practitioner, there is a link to my practitioner resources. And if you're not, there's just a link to other stuff.

Jennifer: Awesome. Well thank you so much for joining us and hopefully we can have you back sometime and dive deeper into a lot of this stuff. Cause I know that we just scratched the surface today, but it's important and you've given everyone the tools now to go look at their own labs or to ask their doctors. Yeah, that starting point is important. So thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Ritamarie: Thank you so much for having me.

“Blood sugar regulation is important because every cell in the body needs to get a source of energy, a source of fuel, in order to do its thing. So in order for skin cells to be able to reproduce properly and get the right nutrition in, there needs to be a balance in blood sugar and the escort hormone (called insulin).”

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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