The Un-Sweet Truth: Sugar & Aging
The holy month of Ramadan is upon us and every one is busy preparing sahoor and breakfast menu-lists to cater to family and friends during the much celebrated & cherished month. From my past experiences I know that every Ramadan we get carried away in our preparations of delicacies and subsistence hence, today I’d like to acquaint you with negative effects of food on skin especially sugar.
When most of us eat one chocolate biscuit too many, our biggest worry is that the sugar hit will head straight to our hips. Yet the most lasting damage caused by a sweet tooth could be an upsurge in wrinkles rather than extra padding around the tummy. As we get older, eating too much sugar starts to show on our faces in the form of fine lines, dull skin tone and sagging.
How sugar can become a visible reminder of the guilty pleasures of our indulgent past causing premature wrinkles & sagging?
Answer lies in a process called glycation. Once sugar molecules enter in our bodies they attach to fats and proteins leading to production of AGEs (advanced glycation end products) that cause protein fibers to become stiff and malformed.
Unfortunately, the proteins in our skin that are most prone to glycation happen to be the same ones that make a youthful plump complexion: collagen and elastin. Post glycation, they become discolored, weak and less supple, which then shows up on the skin as wrinkles, sagginess and a loss of radiance.
A Fact Of Life:
It’s important to note that refined sugar is not the only culprit. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables also turn to glucose when digested, but sugars released from these food groups causes much less damage and these foods are necessary for our health. Fact of life is we cannot & should not completely eliminate all types of sugar from our diets.
Thankfully, there are many options to fight off the unwanted results of glycation.
- Diet: With regards to your diet, stay away from white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (candies, confectionery, bakery products, soft & soda drinks etc.), which studies have found increases the rate of glycation by 10 folds, along with simple carbohydrates.
- Food additives: Ginger, cinnamon, cumin, green tea, black pepper, and basil. According to a report in the British Journal of Nutrition (2008), ginger reduced sugar-protein AGE formation by an incredible 93 percent under experimental conditions. Under these testing conditions, cinnamon was still a very close second at 88 percent inhibition of AGE formation, followed by cumin, green tea, black pepper, and basil.
- Supplementations: Carnosine, Garlic and Alpha Lipoic Acid. You can also take supplemental carnosine, an amino acid that has been shown to protect against AGE buildup. A study, published in the European Journal of Pharmacology (2007), has shown that aged garlic extract (specifically, Japanese Kyolic aged garlic) also helps to eliminate AGE-promoting chemicals. Alpha Lipoic Acid a potent antioxidant helps repair damaged proteins post glycation.
- Skin care is also important to slow glycation. Products that contain viable AGE fighters began to appear in the market five years ago. Now that glycation is widely known as a major cause of aging, there are plenty of anti-aging creams containing AGE fighters.
- Products with green tea extract have proven to significantly interfere with the glycation process, while they also stimulates collagen synthesis. So, use a product that contains this antioxidant-rich ingredient, or drink it regularly, to protect your skin from glycation.
- Blueberry extract has collagen-restoring powers and also helps fight advanced glycation end products.
- Retinoids stimulate the fibroblasts to build new collagen hence help eradicate damage by glycation processes. Some dermal fillers and mesotherapy products also stimulate fibroblasts and fall into this category.