Sure, you know that sugar isn’t exactly the best ingredient to consume on a daily basis, after all, it’s bad for your figure and can also cause wrinkles.
That’s because sugar molecules in your system attach to fats and proteins in a process called glycation, which leads to advanced glycation end products, commonly called AGEs, that cause protein fibers to become stiff and malformed.
Unfortunately, the proteins in your skin that are most prone to glycation happen to be the same ones that make a youthful complexion plump: collagen and elastin. During the process, they become discolored, weak and less supple, which then shows up on the skin as wrinkles, sagginess and a loss of radiance.
What’s worse, these external signs start to show up around the age of 30 to 35, when sun damage, environmental oxidative stress, hormonal changes and the development of AGEs begins to result in fine lines.
It’s important to note that refined sugar is not the only culprit. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables also turn to glucose when digested, although there is less damage and these foods are necessary for our health. So, we shouldn’t completely eliminate all types of sugar from our diets. Thankfully, there are some options to fight off the unwanted results of glycation.
With regards to your diet, stay away from white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, which studies have found increase the rate of glycation by 10 times, along with simple carbs. You can also take supplemental carnosine, an amino acid that has been shown to protect against AGE buildup.
Skin care is also important to slow glycation. Products that contain viable AGE fighters began to appear five years ago. Now that glycation is widely known as a major cause of aging, there are plenty of anti-aging creams containing AGE fighters, too. Green tea has been proven to significantly interfere with the glycation process, while it also stimulates collagen synthesis. So, use a product that contains this antioxidant-rich ingredient, or drink it regularly, to protect your skin from glycation.
“Anything that stimulates the fibroblasts to build new collagen is going to help eradicate damage,” says New York dermatologist Fredric Brandt, MD, who also notes that retinoids and some dermal fillers fall into this category as well.
A couple of products that fight glycation in the skin are SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex ($86) which targets advanced glycation end products with blueberry extract and Amore Pacific Time Response Skin Renewal Serum ($525), which harnesses the antioxidant and collagen-restoring powers of green tea stem cells.
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