Is Your Diet Making You Look Older?

face in mirror, woman, skin, looking at skin
(Image credit: Yuri Arcurs | Dreamstime)

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but it may also help the crow's feet settle into your skin, a new study suggests.

Blood sugar levels may be directly related to how old we look, according to the study, which was published in February in the journal Age. Researchers studied 670 people between ages 50 and 70, and found that for every increase in blood glucose levels of 1 millimole per liter, the participants looked about 5 months older.

Rethinking that cupcake yet?

Another study looked at glycation — a process in which blood sugars attach to proteins and form undesirable molecules called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). Glycation is linked with visible signs of aging.  The study, published in 2007 in the British Journal of Dermatology, found that the collagen and elastin proteins that keep skin looking supple and youthful are the most susceptible to damage from the glycation process.

So, what does this all mean for us? Well, if you want to keep your youthful appearance, it's time to cut back on your sugar consumption. But that doesn't mean that sugar is evil. It's just a carbohydrate. It's how we use, or overuse, that carbohydrate that matters.

Here are some tips for keeping your youthful glow by managing your sugar consumption:

  1. Avoid refined sugars. There is no nutritional value in refined sugars, which means there's really no point in consuming them. You know the old standby, white sugar, that is so popular? Just don't use it. 
  2. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). This sugar has gained a bad rap over the years. Again, it increases your blood sugar without adding nutritional value, so there's no point in consuming it. It may be harder to avoid because it is in so many processed foods, but the effort is worthwhile. Just think about those crow's feet.
  3. Consume natural sugars in their natural form. Instead of hopping on the artificial (read chemical) sweetener bandwagon, try getting your sugar fix from Mother Nature in the form of delicious fruit. You can't put it in your morning coffee, but you can add a piece of fruit to a smoothie in lieu of sugar, or enjoy a fruit salad instead of chocolate cake for dessert.
  4. Consider sugar-alternatives. Sometimes, you just need something sweet. I'm with you. And I keep some natural sugar-alternatives in my pantry for this very reason. Stevia, xylitol and date sugar are a few of my favorites.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.