image21 Sugar, how could you do this to us?

Here at Women and Health we try to focus on the positive. That’s why it hurts us to have to tell you that one of your best friends may be saying bad things about you, right in your face! We love sugar in all its delectable forms. But it turns out it may be hurting us in a way we never even dreamed: by making us look older.

Scientists from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and Unilever in the UK, showed photos of six hundred men and women aged between fifty and seventy to a board of sixty observers. They found men and women who had higher blood sugar levels were consistently rated as appearing older. They were even able to quantify sugar’s effect on our appearance: for every milliliter per liter increase in a subject’s blood sugar, assessors perceived him or her as looking five months older!

Now take a look at that king-size chocolate bar and see how friendly you feel!

But how can one innocent-looking candy or soda make you look older? As we all know from a lifetime of women’s magazines, the two things that keep our skin looking springy, plump and youthful are the proteins collagen and elastin. But when we consume sugar, it binds with our proteins, an effect called glycation. As a result, our skin becomes more rigid, thus prone to sagging and wrinkling instead of bouncing back with youthful resilience. What’s more, sugar can even change the nature of our skin’s collagen by making it more brittle. As if all this weren’t enough to make us dive for a pint of Rocky Road, it further turns out that sugar’s ravaging effects on our skin’s youthful structure also makes it more vulnerable to sun and environmental damage.

The one piece of good news? The effects are to some extent reversible. Give up sugar (not just sweet snacks, but foods containing lots of hidden sugar, like processed peanut butter, ketchup, even sweet cocktails) and soon you should start to see your skin bouncing back, literally. A tiny treat here and there may not hurt too much, but no more considering sugar as one of the basic food groups!

We don’t say these things to hurt you, we just think it’s best you know!