Sugar and skin ageing
There's a sticky relationship between sugar and your skin and today we're breaking down what the deal is with glycation, sugar and pre-mature aging. Sweet tooth's beware, what we unravel may make you never look at dessert the same way again!
We’d all love to have perfect skin, but due to modern lifestyles and the food that we eat, many of us become our own saboteurs to the complexion of our dreams. Most Australians get more than 50 percent of their calories from refined sugar, flour and oil and another 25 percent of calories from animals foods. But while these foods seem like the norm, they are not. Our biology was never designed to process them in the quantities that we eat. Early humans never ate cookies, cake, chocolate bars or anything else so high in refined sugar and fat.
What does sugar, glycation & AGEs have to do with my skin?
In recent years, scientists have discovered that sugar can have a damaging effect on our skin. In a process called gylcation, sugar binds with proteins in our bodies and causes the level of glucose in the bloodstream to rise. As blood sugar goes up, the opportunity for sugars to bind with proteins increases. This can cause the cross-linked molecules to become stiff and inflexible and form advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. The proteins in skin most prone to glycation are the same ones that make a youthful complexion so plump and bouncy—collagen and elastin.
While we’re all aware that soft drinks and candy are concentrated sources of added sugar, there’s a lot less transparency around the added sugar in other foods we eat. You’d be amazed at how much added sugar sneaks into your diet under the guise of healthy – and not even sweet-tasting – pantry staples. Unlike the sugars naturally present in whole foods – like lactose (milk sugar) in dairy products or fructose in whole fresh fruit – added sugars lack the same dietary buffers that slow their absorption and mitigate the insulin response. Foods and drinks high in added sugars, moreover, contribute substantially to total energy intake without a commensurate contribution to nutrient needs or satiety. In other words, foods and drinks high in added sugar provide lots of calories without making us feel full or delivering essential vitamins, minerals, fiber or protein.
The more sugar you eat, whether processed or natural, the more AGEs are produced. When the body is overwhelmed with AGEs, collagen becomes compromised. AGEs can degrade collagen and elastin, causing them to harden and lose elasticity in the same way rust weakens and degrades metal. This results in wrinkling, loss of elasticity, stiffness, and compromised barrier function. As these processes progress, free radical formation can occur, as well as oxidative stress, dehydratation and inflammation, all of which accelerate ageing.
Effects of AGEs on skin & health
AGE-modified proteins lose their specific functions and undergo accelerated degradation, they become discoloured, weak, and less supple; this shows up on the skin's surface as wrinkles, sagginess, yellowing of skin and a loss of radiance. This can make your skin look less bouncy and greyish, adding to those unwanted dark circles around your eyes. Fortunately, your body has mechanisms to eliminate these harmful compounds, including those involving antioxidant and enzymatic activity. However, when you're overloaded with too many AGEs, or too many form spontaneously — your body can’t keep up with eliminating them. Thus, they accumulate.
The formation of AGEs progressively increases with normal aging and age-dependent AGEs have been shown to accumulate in human cartilage, skin collagen and pericardial fluid. However, when you're younger, your body has more resources to ward off damage, and you're producing more collagen. But as you age, these sugar by-products begin to stack up and once a perfect storm of built-up UV damage from sun exposure, environmental oxidative stress, hormonal changes, and the development of AGEs surpass your body's threshold for damage, your complexion and health take the hit.
The recognition of the particularly harmful effects of high intake of added sugars on health, both in terms of obvious conditions like obesity and diabetes, but also for skin and deeper health issues have launched an array of new research into the topic. Scientific reports reveal that besides accumulation during healthy aging, AGEs are formed at accelerated rates in diabetes. They are markers and also important causative factors for the pathogenesis of diabetes, cataracts, atherosclerosis, diabetic nephropathy, and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Solutions to combat glycation and AGEs
1. Incorporate a targeted anti-glycation solution: Anti-glycation supplements are oral treatments which help to reverse glycation in the skin. These supplements often contain a variety of substances borrowed from the plant world that have been shown to have positive, anti-AGE effects in the skin.
Both synthetic compounds and natural products have been evaluated as inhibitors against the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The synthetic AGEs inhibitors so far discovered are divided into three classes: (a) carbonyl trapping agents which attenuate carbonyl stress; (b) metal ion chelators, which suppress glycoxidations; and (c) cross-link breakers that reverse AGE cross-links .
Our specially targeted supplement is formulated with 13 essential vitamins and minerals including, Chromium, Cinnamon extract, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Nicotinamide (B3), Alpha Lipoic Acid and Manganese amino acid chelate to help prevent the glycation process and correct severe signs of intrinsic ageing.
Manganese is an essential trace mineral involved in many key functions in the body. It plays a role in energy production, in normal bone formation and development, and in the synthesis of many vital cellular biochemicals such as collagen, prothrombin, urea, mucopolysaccharides, fatty acids and proteins. In addition, manganese is a cofactor for superoxide dismutase, one of the body's main protective antioxidant systems. This manganese is specially bonded (chelated) with amino acids to protect mineral value and enhance assimilation.
This multi-faceted formulation is optimised with potent antioxidants which helps to neutralise the damaging effect that AGEs have on surrounding tissue. The ingredients work in synergy to also regulate blood sugar levels and provide anti-inflammatory properties, while supporting your health needs and helping to rebuild cells from the inside out.
2. Beware of the amount of sugar you eat: Healthy diets, low in refined sugar and high in things like beans, greens, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can slow the effects of glycation, reduce the production of AGEs in the bloodstream, and help to protect skin cells from damage. Many plant foods contain co-factors which prevent the formation of AGEs and promote long-term health. The World Health Organisation provides a guideline that recommends that “free sugars” (another way of saying “added sugar”) should comprise no more than 5 percent of total calories. 5 percent limit translates into about 19 grams (5 teaspoons) for people on 1,500-calorie per day diets, and 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for those on 2,000 calorie per day diets. Easy switch outs in your regular diet can make a significant difference such as swapping out white rice for brown rice which contains all parts of the grain — including the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ and the carb-rich endosperm. as well as white bread to wheat/whole grain,
3. Sleep more: Sleep deprivation is also known to impair insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, which means that glycation is more likely. Make sure you are getting a minimum six to eight hours of sleep per night.
4. Stress less: Stress increases free radical regeneration and oxidative stress throughout our entire body which is a key factor when it comes to ageing. Stress can also lead to raised levels of cortisol, which also degenerates collagen.
5. Exercise: High levels of fasting blood glucose generate high levels of AGEs. It is one of the reasons why researchers think that people with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease. Increased fasting blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels, increasing the chances of plaque buildup on artery walls. Exercise, however, can give people better control over the amount of sugar in the blood both during and afterward, reducing the opportunity for AGEs to form.
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