Some of you know that I am hugely into skin care. I make my own skin care products, and I also make them for clients. One thing that I always ask my clients is their eating habits. Yes! What you eat shows up on your skin!
Have you heard of the SUGAR-SAG?
Sagging skin from too much sugar. Pay attention and read below if you want to be wrinkle-free!
Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs-a very appropriate acronym!)
Glycation refers to the process where proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids bond to sugar molecules, usually glucose of fructose1. Glycation happens at random sites on a protein, lipid, or nucleic acid molecule. The glycated molecule is the end-product. The altered molecule’s normal function becomes disrupted and the molecule is no longer able to function properly.
There are many facets to AGEs. AGEs may accumulate in various tissues as a marker of function or chronological aging. Increased accumulation of AGEs was first directly correlated to diabetes1. For those familiar with diabetes, Hemoglobin A1C is the measurement of glycated hemoglobin. This measurement provides the average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months (as the average life-span of a red blood cell is about 110 days). If a person makes changes in diet and exercise level, HbA1C will change accordingly since new blood cells will not be impacted by glycation.
In our skin, AGEs negatively impact the skin’s function. Glycation causes crosslinking of collagen (you know, the stuff that’s heavily advertised by brand name cosmetics) and elastin2 that supports the dermis. This results in stiffening of collagen and elastin molecules, preventing them from interacting with surrounding cells. The glycated collagen becomes resistant to degradation by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The change slows down the collagen turnover and slows down the replacement of functional proteins. The dermis becomes unsupported, and sags! (Yikes!) Of note here is that collagen has a half-life of approximately 15 years…so whatever is glycated, you are kind of stuck with it for a long time.
AGEs can also come from external sources. Not only can your body create AGEs from excess sugar, AGEs are also present in the food you eat. This is mainly based on preparation method. Grilling, frying, and roasting tend to produce higher levels of AGEs in food. In contrast, water-based cooking methods such as boiling of steaming, produce a much lower amount of AGEs.
A study has found that a strict blood sugar control over 4 months will not only reduce HbA1c, it can also reduce your glycated collagen formation by 25%3,4. How’s that for potential wrinkle reduction?
Don’t ask me for a miracle serum when you eat an unhealthy diet. I cannot change your body’s biochemistry. Start eating healthy and take supplements if you are a really picky eater. I promise you this: You can do more for your skin with a healthier lifestyle than any promise of a youth fountain in a jar.
By the way, collagen protein molecules are too large to cross the epidermis. So, if you put collagen on your skin, you are wasting your money. Collagen injection may work better. But if you do not take care of your nutrient intake, all that fresh collagen will just glycate and become dysfunctional. It’s really up to you!
- Harrison P. Nguyen, BA and Rajani Katta, MD. Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin, Skin Therapy Letter, Vol. 20, 2015 Articles
- William Danby MD, Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation, Clinics in Dermatology, Volume 28, Issue 4, July–August 2010, Pages 409-411
- Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):409-11.
- Draelos ZD. Aging skin: the role of diet: facts and controversies. Clin Dermatol. 2013 Nov-Dec;31(6):701-6.