The truth about sugar and ageing

It has been suspected for a long time that sugar can actually age you.

And, in what comes as bad news for the sugar lovers amongst us, new research has indicated that this may well be the case.

A study, carried out by scientists from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Unilever, measured the blood sugar levels of 600 men and women aged between 50 and 70 and compared this to their perceived ages.


After showing images of the study participants to a panel of 60 independent assessors who were asked to judge their age, it transpired that the higher the person's blood sugar levels the older they looked.

On average it was seen that for every 1mm/litre increase in blood sugar levels there was an increase in the perceived age of the person by five months.

Whilst this appears to be bad news for all of us who suffer from a sweet tooth, there is a silver lining.

Scientists from Finland have found that a natural sugar alternative appears to have exactly the opposite effect on our skin than sugar.

Xylitol, which is made from birch wood, may look, taste and feel just like sugar, but Finnish researchers have found that short-term (three month) supplementation with xylitol can increase skin collagen synthesis, and as collagen is thought to help skin keep its shape and prevent wrinkles, this could have a positive effect on the ageing of skin.

They also found that xylitol reduced the glycation of collagen (the binding of glucose molecules to collagen which prevent it doing its job and the mechanism through which sugar is thought to age skin).

So the message is simple, for younger looking skin you may have to cut out sugar, but if you replace it with xylitol (available in stores under the brand name Total Sweet) you can still enjoy youthful looks and sweet foods.