Glycation and Your Skin
Most people are already aware of the many dangers of excess sugar consumption. Although a moderate amount of sugar in the form of glucose is necessary for metabolic functions, a lifetime of overloading our systems with sugar, sugar substitutes, and carbohydrates (which breakdown into sugar) can lead to chronic and debilitating diseases such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, autoimmune disease and some forms of cancers.
But did you know that too much sugar consumption also plays a horrifying toll on your skin as well?
When there is too much sugar in the body, protein molecules (which are sticky), cross-link, or stick to sugar molecules. When this occurs, a new molecule is formed that the body doesn’t recognize as normal. They are called advanced glycation end products, or AGE’s for short (how appropriate). Because the body recognizes AGE’s as something foreign, it begins forming antibodies that cause inflammation in the skin. AGE’s settle in the dermal layer where collagen and elastin live, which eventually cause wrinkling, loss of elasticity, cellular death, and collagen stiffness. AGE’s have been recognized as one of the main reasons behind the accelerated aging of the skin. They continue to produce antibodies with the accumulation of excess sugar in the blood. Not only does sugar cause glycation of the skin, but it also dehydrates the skin. If your kidneys start producing more urine in the attempt to eliminate sugar, you can lose a lot of fluid, which leads to dehydration. Dehydrated cells have virtually no life force, and cannot keep skin viable and healthy because of a lack of nutrients to the skin cells.
How do you treat glycated skin or AGE’s with skincare products?
Glycated skin may appear irritated, sensitive, red, wrinkled, dull, dehydrated, or acne-prone. It’s important to be gentle with glycated skin because it is very fragile and subject to epidermal breakdown and irritation. Look for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, and hydrating products such as hyaluronic acid, green tea, vitamin C & E, seaweed, oatmeal, honey, licorice root, astaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant), and arnica. Cell turnover slows down in glycated skin and needs regular light peeling to induce new collagen stimulation. Stay away from very harsh scrubs (light scrubs are ok) as this will irritate the top layer of the skin. Instead, look for chemical peeling agents such as lactic acid, malic acid, hibiscus flower, and enzymes. A hydrating facial mask once a week will replenish and restore cellular hydration to keep skin looking plump and vibrant.
How do you treat glycated skin or AGE’s with diet?
Start by eating foods that require no label. Eat more vegetables than fruits, and start drinking at least 2-3 liters of water a day. Aim for most of your diet to be made up of quality proteins, good fats and alkalizing leafing green vegetables. If you ARE reading a label, check out the sugar content in the nutritional facts as well as the ingredient list. A lot of companies hide sugar in the form of carbohydrates or fake sweeteners. It’s important to be aware that your sugar consumption may be more than you really think. Some common names for “sugar” are maltodextrin, dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, maltose, cane sugar, cane juice, barley malt, dehydrated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, sorghum syrup, raw sugar, agave, buttered syrup, caramel and more.