The one inevitability in life is aging. Or is it? The truth is, we don't have to look or feel as old as our chronological age might suggest. Science has discovered that it's possible to turn back the clock, so to speak, and slow the aging process simply by avoiding certain bad lifestyle habits. Like this one in particular, which scientists have found is the #1 contributor to premature aging. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
The Worst Habit for Premature Aging
Want to speed up the aging process? Make added sugar and simple carbs a regular part of your diet. "Findings from research studies suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging," says the American Academy of Dermatology. Eating too much sugar can prematurely age your body—by increasing your risk of destructive chronic disorders like obesity, inflammation and cardiovascular disease—and directly age your skin. Read on to find out how.
How Sugar Ages Your Skin
When consumed in excess, sugar binds to collagen and elastin, two proteins in our skin that keep it looking firm and young. This is a process called glycation, which produces advanced glycation end products (AGEs), substances that damage those youth-giving proteins and actually prevent the body from repairing them. The result: Wrinkles, sagging, age spots, and sallow skin.
But Sugar's Harms Go Deeper
A study at the University of California-San Francisco found that people who consumed more sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soda, had shorter telomeres, the part of our cells that hold DNA. Telomeres start out long and get shorter as they age. When they get too short, they die. That's the aging process, in a nutshell. "Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging," wrote the study's authors.
Plus, Sugar Increases These Disease Risks
As we age, the chances of developing certain chronic diseases rise. These include:
Cutting back on sugar in your diet—particulary sugar-sweetened drinks, refined grains, processed foods and fast food—can reduce your risk of all of those issues.
"Added sugar is the number one most significant health threat in America," says David Zinczenko, best-selling author of Zero Sugar Diet. "A sugar like fructose, for example, may increase blood pressure, increase heart rate, and boost myocardial oxygen demand (basically, how much oxygen your heart needs to function). It may also contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and overall metabolic dysfunction. And we get more fructose in our diets today than was ever possible before, thanks to high-fructose corn syrup, the sweetener used (and sometimes hidden) in soda and most other convenience foods.
He adds: "The more added sugar that sneaks its way into your diet, the less healthy food you'll eat the rest of the day. And the faster you will age."
Reducing your consumption of added sugar is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, helping you maintain a healthy weight and keep your body young longer.
Beware of Hidden Sugars
Even if you cut back on simple carbs like white bread and sugary sodas, juices and sweets, you can still be consuming more added sugar than you realize. Check Nutrition Facts labels on products you buy, where added sugar is now listed separately. Shocking amounts of sugar can lurk in unexpected places, such as seemingly "healthy" foods like whole wheat bread and fat-free yogurt. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.