We’ve heard rumblings about the dangers of refined sugar for awhile now. It’s linked to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It’s addictive, has no nutritional value and might make us fat. Need one more reason to avoid the stuff? Glycation: The process by which sugar can cause wrinkles and sagging skin.
Simply put, glycation is the process that happens in our bodies when sugar hooks up with proteins. Normally, sugar is converted to fuel for our bodies. But when we eat too many sugar-laden foods, excess sugar molecules find proteins and fats to latch onto, creating abnormalities called Advanced Glycation End products (AGE). These AGEs cause collagen and elastin proteins in our skin to lose flexibility and weaken. The result? Sagging, dull and wrinkly skin.
We can slow down glycation and help repair the damage with diet changes and targeted skin care products. Here’s how to fight glycation from both the inside and the outside.
Slow glycation with a healthy diet.
- Eat less (or no) refined sugar.
- Say no to high-fructose corn syrup (it speeds up glycation to 10 times the rate of simple glucose!).
- Stick with good carbohydrates like brown rice and whole wheat products. They produce less glucose and they’re absorbed more slowly so your body isn’t bombarded with excess sugar.
- Avoid highly processed food that’s full of refined sugars.
- Get lots of fiber, especially from raw vegetables—it helps absorb AGEs.
- Choose low-fat dairy products and eat more fish like salmon, tuna and sardines. (Studies show high fat red meats and cheeses produce more AGEs.)
- Try carnosine supplements (like Jarrow Formulas’ L-Carnosine), a potent anti-aging, antioxidant amino acid that helps protect against AGE buildup.
Use glycation-targeted skin care products.
After age 35 glycation really speeds up, making it a good time to switch to anti-aging products that hydrate, firm and detoxify.
- Look for gotu kola in skin care products. Gotu kola features saponins, active compounds known for their anti-aging, wrinkle-reducing and antioxidant properties. For daytime, try Acure’s Gotu Kola Stem Cell & Chlorella Growth Factor Day Cream, which renews skin with gotu kola and free radical-fighting antioxidants like blackberry and pomegranate. MyChelle’s Serious Hyaluronic Firming Serum goes deep into the skin to stimulate collagen production and tighten with gotu kola and amino acids. Use at night after cleansing and before moisturizing.
- Target deeper lines around your mouth, nose and forehead with peptides that boost collagen production. Derma E’s Deep Wrinkle Reverse Moisturizer with Peptides Plus combines two powerful peptides and antioxidants to improve skin’s resilience and plump up wrinkles.
- Don’t forget the skin on the rest of your body! Acure’s Lemongrass & Moroccan Argan Oil Firming Body Lotion helps smooth and tighten skin with natural botanicals like cranberry, evening primrose and rosehips.
Ask a Pharmaca practitioner about other anti-aging skin care products that might help in your skin’s fight against glycation.