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Eating refined carbs can make you less attractive

Ever felt like that doughnut might come back to haunt you later? Well, new research suggests it might not just affect your waistline, but also your love life. A study by the University of Montpellier found that people who consumed a diet high in refined carbs were rated as less attractive.

Refined carbs and attractiveness

Refined carbohydrates are foods that have been processed to remove most of their natural fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These include white bread, pasta, pastries, white rice, table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and many packaged snacks and drinks.

Foods with refined carbs cause blood sugar to rise quickly and then drop, making you feel hungry again soon. Because they lack nutrients, they are linked to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

For your skin, refined carbs can worsen acne by increasing oil production. They can also speed up aging by damaging collagen and elastin, which are proteins that keep your skin firm. Additionally, they can cause inflammation, leading to redness and puffiness. Since refined carbs are linked to weight gain, they can also change your appearance.

Refined carbohydrates at breakfast

The study suggests that what we eat for breakfast can impact how attractive we are perceived to be by others. People who consumed refined carbs breakfasts that caused their blood sugar to rise quickly, like sugary cereals or white bread, were rated as less attractive compared to those who had other breakfasts. 

The study highlights that even the first meal of the day can influence how others perceive our attractiveness, suggesting a link between our dietary choices and physical appearance.

Snacking between meals

People who regularly snack on refined carbs were also perceived as less attractive. The study suggests that for men, this effect might be linked to their physical activity levels and how “masculine” they are perceived to be. 

Men who exercised less tended to eat more refined carbs between meals, which seemed to influence the masculinity they portrayed and subsequently reduced their attractiveness. 

For women, snacks with refined carbs might make them look older than they actually are.  “Facial attractiveness, an important factor of social interactions, seems to be impacted by immediate and chronic refined carbohydrate consumption in men and women,” noted the researchers.

Evolutionary perspective on refined carbs

In the past, people ate foods that wouldn’t cause blood sugar spikes very often, except for occasional treats like fruits or honey. Today, however, we have constant access to foods that cause blood sugar spikes. 

This means these foods no longer signal that they are good sources of energy, unlike what might have been true in the past. Eating a lot of these sugary foods has led to health problems, and this seems to also affect how attractive people find others.

The study argues that our bodies haven’t evolved to keep up with the modern diet, which is full of refined carbohydrates. The mismatch between our bodies and what we eat can lead to health problems and also affect how attractive we find each other. 

Since being considered attractive is important in social interactions, these findings suggest that what we choose to eat can influence our social lives in unexpected ways.

Foods that can make you more attractive

A healthy diet that supports overall health can indirectly contribute to a more youthful and radiant appearance.

This includes:

  • Fruits and vegetables: They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help protect the skin from damage and aging.
  • Whole grains: These provide fiber for digestion and sustained energy, contributing to a healthy look.
  • Healthy fats: Avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for healthy skin and may contribute to a healthy glow.
  • Lean protein: Sources like chicken, turkey, tofu, and legumes help build and maintain muscle, and provide nutrients that can enhance skin health and overall appearance.
  • Water: Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining skin elasticity and health, which can impact perceived attractiveness.
  • Tea: Green and white teas contain antioxidants that may help combat skin aging and contribute to a healthy glow.
  • Dark chocolate: In moderation, dark chocolate can improve circulation and help protect the skin from sun damage due to its flavonoid content.
  • Spices and herbs: Many spices and herbs have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can support skin health.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.


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