Mounting evidence is linking excess sugar to obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, autoimmune disease and some forms of cancer. But did you know that consuming too much sugar can take 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 does not recognize as normal. They are called advanced glycation end products, or AGE’s for short (a strangely appropriate acronym). Because the body recognizes AGE’s as something foreign, it begins forming antibodies that causes inflammation in the skin. AGE’s settle in the dermal layer where collagen and elastin live. The accumulation of AGE’s eventually causes wrinkling, loss of elasticity, cellular death, and collagen stiffness (collectively these are all part of the aging process). AGE’s have been recognized as one of the main culprits behind accelerated aging of the skin as they continue to produce antibodies with the accumulation of excess sugar in the blood. Not only does sugar cause glycation of the skin, 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 in the skin cells.
How do you treat glycated skin or AGE’s with skin care 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 (powerful antioxidant), and arnica. Cell turnover slows down in glycated skin and needs regular light peeling to induce new collagen stimulation. Stay away from harsh scrubs (light scrubs are ok) as this will irritate the top layer of glycated 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. (salmon, broccoli, etc) 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, and alkalizing leafing green vegetables. If your food does have 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 (which begin converting to sugar once you begin to chew them), or artificial sweeteners. It’s important to be aware that your sugar consumption may be more than you really think. Some common names for “sugar” are maltodextrose, 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, agave, buttered syrup, caramel and more. Moreover, keep in mind that anything made with a grain flour (this includes rice), such as breads, pastries and pastas, converts to sugar as it is broken down in your GI tract.
The overarching idea is that your skin eats what you eat (and what you put on it), so take care to provide it with skinfoods that will nourish it.