Sugar Makes You Fat, Sick and Also OLD

Study shows people with high blood glucose levels look older

We are no longer strangers to the effects of sugary treats and drinks on our waistlines and health, but scientists have now discovered that high sugar diets are causing our skin to rapidly age as well.

As reported in the UK newspaper The Telegraph, Dr David Gunn and his team discovered that the higher a person's blood sugar, the older their perceived age. Their study, conducted on over 600 50 to 70 year olds, found that each 1 mmol/litre increase in blood glucose levels increases perceived facial age by 5 months, and on average, a diabetic looked up to 2 years older than a person of similar age and lifestyle but with low blood sugar levels. 

Sugar - good on the lips but not so good once consumed

So how exactly does the sweet stuff make you look older? The answer is in a process called glycation. The sugar in your blood stream binds to proteins in your skin such as collagen and elastin, producing molecules that are known as advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs for short. AGEs cause collagen to become brittle and dry, causing wrinkling and sagging.

The effects are most pronounced as the skin ages, causing collagen and elastin production to naturally decrease after the age of 35.  

Dermatologists such as Fredric Brandt, MD, the creator of the highly successful Dr. Brandt range of skincare products, and Dr Aamer Khan, medical director of the famous London Harley Street Skin Clinic agree that a proper anti-aging regime should include the avoidance of high glucose foods for true effectiveness. Dr Khan was quoted in a recent interview, saying there was little point in application of expensive skin creams as a diet high in sugar would sabotage the growth of strong, healthy skin cells.  

Unfortunately, avoiding high glucose intake is not as easy as it sounds. Sugary substances and high-sugar foods such as candy and chocolate, and sugary soft drinks and juices are not the only foods that need to be avoided. High glycaemic index (GI) foods such as cakes, biscuits and white bread are also very easily converted by the body into simple sugars, and most processed foods including sauces and salty snacks often have sugar listed in their ingredients. Switch to low GI foods such as brown rice, multi-grain bread and non-wheat grains such as quinoa instead. The aim should be to ensure sugary substances makes up less than 10 percent of the total dietary intake. Regular consumption of green tea is also known to boost collagen formation while interfering with the glycation process.

The good news is that those who have tried it have discovered benefits such as smoother, younger-looking skin, within the first few days of changing their dietary habits. Some claim that this simple change has made them look up to 20 years younger, and with the added health benefits of a low sugar diet for the heart and body, you might even feel a lot younger too.

- Cosmetic Medicine, MD

Dr. Liow Tiong Sin is an aesthetic practitioner who practices in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, Malaysia. He has more than 12 years of expertise with non-surgical cosmetic treatments, and  conducts training courses for other doctors from all around Asia. To connect with Dr. Liow, Like Cosmedmd's Facebook page. medical centre website or email
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