We all know that eating too much sugar can be detrimental to our waistline, but the negative effects of sugar are far nastier than that. Excessive sugar consumption actually disrupts the normal function of your cells and leads to accelerated aging – a process known as glycation. Advanced Glycation Endpoints (AGEs) is the name cosmetic scientists have given to the irreversible damage caused to proteins by sugar molecules. IRREVERSIBLE!! The more cosmetic scientists, cosmetic dermatologist and aesthetic practitioners know about AGEs, the more interest there has been in finding ways to prevent and treat patients.
AGEs wreak havoc on the body both inside and out. At a cellular level of the skin’s structure, AGES cause collagen and elastin to break down triggering lines and wrinkles to form. Cell turnover also decelerates causing loss of volume in the face. Due to AGEs, it has become more and more common to see patients in their 20’s resemble a person in their 40’s. That should not be happening!
Of course what is worse than the superficial elements that arise from the formation of AGEs is the several other health challenges that can occur including Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and renal failure. Several studies have connected the recurrence of these diseases to food being cooked at a high heat and then consumed. The consensus is that it is due to AGEs which are formed exogenously when sugars are combined with proteins and fats before cooking. The browning reaction of caramelization may be desirable to taste, but it does produce AGEs.
30% of the sugars and AGEs that we eat end up in our skin. With the addition of UV exposure, pollution and smoking the skin is the most susceptible to catabolic damages.
Common Symptoms of skin with glycation issues:
- Wrinkling and sagging
- Yellowing of skin known as sallowness
- Loss of volume
- Weakened elastin and collagen
- Reduced ability for skin to rapidly rehabilitate
How can we fight the glycation process from damaging skin?
Diet Choices – Cutting down on your sugar consumption will make a world of difference and save your skin from accelerated aging! Look at the ingredients list behind all packaged items and keep track of how much sugar you are eating per day. According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of sugar recommended per day for a woman is around 25 grams. That is less than one oh henry candy bar.
Skin Care Products – Specific anti-inflammatory ingredients such as hyaluronic acid that will hydrate the compromised cellular structure of the dermis have been shown to help fight glycation damage. Daily SPF application is also essential. Products containing polyhydroxyacids and bionic polyhydroxyacids have shown to maintain healthy skin and reduce the production of AGEs long term.
Supplements – Zinc, manganese, ascorbic acid, alpha lipoic acid, green tea and Vitamins C and E have all been shown to have an anti-oxidative effect slowing down AGE formation. These ingredients are good to take orally, but also have been increasingly used as topical antioxidants in cosmeceuticals. In addition, Aspirin has been shown to inhibit glycation by acetylating the residue of lysine.