5 tips to stop aging
Living an unhealthy lifestyle could make you look older because high blood sugar causes the face to age more quickly, a study suggests. Excess processed sugar in your diet, even in small amounts can cause dark circles, wrinkles, dehydrate skin and can fast track the aging process.
Blood sugar, which can rise as a result of an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise, was already known to cause ill health but the study is believed to be the first to link high levels to appearance.
What does sugar does to your skin and body?
When sugar enters your bloodstream, it binds to elastin and collagen, building blocks of the skin, and is difficult for the body to remove. During glycation, toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs are produced. These can cause wrinkles, sagging, dark circles under eyes and a multitude of complications to your organs and blood stream, and fast-track diabetes.
Glucose, a form of sugar, suppresses the human growth hormone, and consequently make you look and feel older.
High carbs put you on fast-track ageing
Carbs, which include sugar, all kind of processed carbs products such as biscuits, cakes, soda, as well as potatoes, white bread and rice, can make your body prone to inflammation. Inflammation can lead to broken capillaries, loss of skin elasticity, and breakdown of cells. All of which fast-track ageing.
High intake of refined carbs and sugar of course will make you bigger. No-one looks younger when they gain weight. Research has shown that when we eat sugar we tend not to eat healthy foods, so we deprive our bodies of critical vitamins and minerals essential for maintaining a youthful, complexion.
Blood sugar of healthy people is usually between 5 and 6 mmol/L, Researchers found that every additional mmol/L increase in blood sugar, adds five months of ageing to their facial features.
They measured the blood sugar of 602 people, while a group of 60 independent assessors studied two photographs of their faces to come up with a “perceived age” score.
Healthy people with low blood sugar typically looked a year younger than those with high readings, and a year-and-a-half younger than diabetics, the study published in the Age journal found.
Ageing is closely related to insulin production
Alternatively, the glucose could hamper insulin production which is believed to play a central role in ageing, researchers said.
David Gunn, who led the Unilever study, said: “The higher glucose people had, they started looking older. Diabetics looked older again, and they have had the worst exposure to high glucose levels.
“This adds extra evidence that there is another reason to have a healthy lifestyle – because it is going to affect your appearance as well as your health.”
Diana van Heemst, of Leiden University in the Netherlands, who contributed to the paper, said: “The results from this study further underscore how important regulation of blood glucose levels is for wellbeing and health in advanced middle age.
“The associated benefit of looking younger might provide an extra motivation to bring about healthy lifestyle changes in 50-to-70 year olds.”
How to stop ageing?
Here are five tips to stop the ageing cycle:
- Reduce and ultimately eliminate processed sugar (so no soft drinks, added sugar, cakes, biscuits).
- Read up about low GI foods – these are foods lower in sugar and where the chemical balance reduces sugar hits on your system.
- Dietitian Kara Landau says “antioxidant rich foods such as deep coloured fruits, vegetables and legumes, nuts and spices can all help reduce inflammation.”
- “If you need to add sugar, natural honey is a better option, as is stevia,” says endocrinologist Dr Sophie Chan.
- One final incentive? Keep a photo diary of yourself over six months as you wean yourself off sugar. Most people are surprised at how much fresher – and younger they look.