Appearances may not be everything… but when it comes to fighting the effects of age, they’re a lot. Your face is your calling card, and if it looks old, people will treat you like you are old.
That’s why so many people waste money on plastic surgery. Unfortunately, that route usually makes you look unnatural, rather than young. And you know that’s the truth.
I’ve come across a couple of studies that say you can have younger-looking skin without surgery. In fact, you can probably subtract years from your appearance with two simple steps.
And they won’t cost you a dime.
The first secret involves stress. Cutting stress can actually make you appear younger.
At least that seems to be the takeaway from a 2012 Dutch study I came across. Researchers there had volunteers estimate the age of a group of people from photos. The higher the person’s morning cortisol levels, the older the volunteers guessed they were.
For each tiny increase in cortisol – also called the “stress hormone” – volunteers added about 5 months to their age estimates.
Exercise, meditation, yoga and Tai Chi – among other things – all help reduce stress. And cutting stress lowers cortisol levels. So any of these activities should help keep you looking younger.
The second study really hit me close to home. Because it involves sugar. Eating sugar makes you look older. And it appears to have a similar effect as cortisol: Each tiny jump in your blood sugar level adds about 5 months to your apparent age.
That’s what a study published last year in the journal Age calculated.
When you eat sugar, your blood sugar levels go up. These sugar molecules combine with proteins to form Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). And AGEs damage collagen and elastin – two of the most important building blocks of healthy skin.
The result is weaker, saggier skin. And you look older.
Suddenly, fruit is looking like my dessert of choice. Or dark chocolate with 70% cocoa. Anything with less sugar.
But skipping sweet desserts won’t cut all the added sugar out of your diet. Processed foods are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). So if you want to give your skin the best chance at staying healthy and younger-looking, cut out packaged foods altogether.