Sugar is everywhere in the news lately. Not only is our dependence on the sweet stuff a verified addiction but it’s being touted as more habit forming than tobacco—some researchers have found that it’s eight times more addictive than cocaine. And apparently we’re consuming a lot of it—according to the USDA, every American consumes 156 lbs each year.
The rates of obesity and diabetes have shown us what effect the excessive consumption has on our waistline and our overall health, but did you know that extra sugar is actually making you look older too? An overload of sugar in the body can attach itself to proteins in your body and cause advance glycation end products (AGEs), which results in inflammation of the skin and causes the protein fibers to become malformed. Even worse, the proteins most effected by this are collagen and elastin, which are responsible for firm, healthy-looking skin. Over time, this becomes so damaging to the skin’s cellular structure that the aging process accerlates. Wrinkles are just the start, you can also expect a loss of radiance and elasticity AND overall stiffness. These signs begin to show up around 30 or 35—just as the damage from environmental factors begin to show.
So, is there anything you can do? First of all, avoid refined sugars like corn syrup and white sugar, which have been shown to increase the rate of glycation by 10 times. You can also fight your sweet tooth with a “sugar detox” (SparkPeople has a friendly 4-week plan). Be aware of the other foods that contain sugar, like simple carbs or fruit, which are high in sugar. In addition, you can help strengthen your bodies ability to fight the glycation process with proper nutrition and making sure you have collagen-boosting foods in your diet (here are 11 to chose from).
Proper skincare can also slow glycation (or even reverse it). Look for products that contain green tea and blueberry extract, which can be found in products such as Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Serum, SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex and Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum. If you want something even more targeted at fighting the effects of sugar on your skin, we really like GlyTerra.
The only product on the market with Theraglycan-3, the first topically applied anti-glycation compound that is being touted as “better than retionl,” it can actually make skin appear measurably younger. GlyTerra’s two part anti-aging system (consisting of a day cream and a night cream) was formulated specifically to fight glycation—it also works to reduce age spots, fine lines and wrinkles. According to the makers of GlyTerra, “the AGE-reducing effects were validated using a highly formularized equation based on measurements taken by an AGE-Reader (a sensitive research instrument that uses autofluorescence to measure AGEs present in the skin).” The result of these extensive tests? The complex took an impressive 8-10 years off the look of skin and actually reduced the presence of AGEs.
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