Your Skin on Sugar: How the (not so) sweet and sneaky saboteur is taking a toxic toll on your looks
Warning: Beauty bombshell about to be dropped in 3-2-1…There’s yet another sour reason to skip the sweet stuff STAT! Glycation. Not be confused with vacation, which is actually a proven skin savior, “glycation” is the “not-so-sweet,” subsequent side effect of overzealous sugar consumption and its adverse effect on the body, particularly in the connective collagen and elastin fibers of skin’s support system. And, it’s not pretty.
Let’s start with some science behind how this entire skin-sinning sacrilege goes down. By true definition, glycation, also known as non-enzymatic glycosylatin, is the formidable result of protein or lipid molecules bonding with a sugar molecule, such as fructose or glucose from simple carbohydrates, without the controlling action of the enzyme. All blood sugars, therefore, are molecules of the reducing variety. In laymen’s terms, when sugar molecules hit your bloodstream, they start attacking your body’s, and skin’s, healthy cells like a war zone. While totally eradicating all sugars from your diet is neither healthy nor possible, it’s the super-sweet diets that show the unseemly aging effects of gylcated skin over shorter time periods, as opposed to those whose diets are more nutritionally-balanced, and, therefore, have skin that has aged more “gracefully.” Inevitably, glycation will catch up to all of us. But, the goal is to stave off the process for as long as possible.
On average, Americans consume an astounding 60 pounds of added sugar yearly, and this precludes sugar from fruit juice sources! Not only does sugar literally make you sick, contributing to a large number of life-limiting ailments, such as adult, on-set diabetes, neuropathy, Alzheimer’s, cataracts, heart disease, liver disease, hypertension, and a host of other health-related undesirables, it causes unnecessary, pre-mature aging. READ: WRINKLES! As if you needed another reason to pass on the deceptively alluring white stuff, for that few, sweet seconds of palatable pleasure surely is not worth it. And, this isn’t sequestered to just avoiding Twinkies or Twix. White breads and pasta, processed-foods laden with high fructose corn syrup, and other simple, sugar-based fare are all complexion-killing culprits caused by glycation. Of course, the body relies on an adequate amount of sugars to function optimally on all levels, but those sugars should primarily come from naturally-based fruits and veggies and complex carbs, while added, refined sugars should be limited exponentially. When there is an over-abundance of sugar swimming around the bloodstream, the body’s protein molecules link with these skin-scheming sugar molecules. Once this cross-linking occurs, all bets are off. The new sugar proteins, referred to as Advanced Glycation End Products, are known in the skincare industry as AGE’s. Lacking the innate ability of recognizing these imposter-like infidels, the human body produces a surge of antibodies to fend off the perpetrating proteins, and in the process, instigates inflammation within the deepest dermal layers of the skin. A vicious cycle that is far from good. Once formed, AGE’s begin to attack healthy connective tissue, or dermal collagen, that is responsible for that dewy, plump, pretty glow most analogous to youth. The breakdown of skin’s chief support system has now begun on the cellular level, i.e., wrinkling, loss of elasticity, firmness, luminosity. To add insult to injury, the irreparable damage of microcirculation has unmistakably set in. When microcirculation and cell turnover begins to immobilize, the face suffers loss of volume due to fat re-distribution. Hence, why a great number of dermatologists and skincare professionals often see a 20-something individual with a high-sugar diet resembling a person in their 40s! Once the skin’s connective tissue-building fibroblasts have been broken down, the skin loses its inherent regenerative and rehabilitative capabilities.
But, all hope is not forsaken on these aging AGE’s. Though skincare pros cannot control what clients put into their mouths on the daily, they can, and do, take the necessary skin-saving steps to help get those affected by cumulative glycation glowing again. Amongst in-office peels, facial massages, and laser treatments, picking products with high concentrations of hyaluronic acid and beta-glucan not only aid in supplying compromised skin with intense hydration during the renewal process, but are especially proficient in providing anti-inflammatory properties. Licorice root, green tea extract, and olive oil have also been shown to help reverse the sticky situation. Derms have even went as far as recommending the application of antioxidant-rich blueberries to the epidermis due to its powerfully-proven fight against oxidative skin stress. However, if turning a blue hue a few days a week isn’t your shtick, two of the most prominent ingredients to look for in a product when seeking refuge from sugar’s relentless devastation is stabilized vitamin C and a dermal filler, such as Advanced BTX.
So, what else can you do to slow the provocation of glycating your skin’s supply of youth-worthy collagen? Along with your endless repertoire of serums, creams, SPF’s, cleansers, BB creams, CC creams, etc, you can now dutifully add “sugar boycott” to your anti-aging arsenal. Or, at the very least, consume sugar strategically and very sparingly. If you’re gonna ingest the stuff, put your sugar where your mouth is – in candies, chocolates, pastries, cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc, and only as a well-deserved treat every once in a big while. Make it count. If you don’t keep an eye on the skin-sagging subterfuge, it subtly stacks up – FAST. Keep your non-dairy milk beverages, such as soy, almond, cashew, rice, and other plant-based sips unsweetened, as well as yogurt, salad dressings, ketchup, and other inconspicuous foods where sugar, including the sly high fructose corn syrup, is ominously lurking and ready to attack that pleasantly-plump, smooth, soft skin.
It looks like you can still have your cake and eat it, too. (But, just in blissfully bite-sized, skin-friendly servings.)