We all know that sugar is not exactly good for us, though our concern with sugar has mainly been the link between sugar and weight gain. What often gets over looked when talking about sugar is that it’s also responsible for a process called glycation which leads to premature aging of the skin.
When we eat sugar your body has to deal with “Sugar Molecules” which attach themselves to fats and proteins in a process known as glycation, this forms advanced glycation commonly shortened to AGEs. Not only does a sugar molecule create glycation in the body internally, fried and grilled foods such as meat and chicken also contain AGE’s when cooked or grilled at high temperature. Research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York shows that frying or grilling certain foods at high temperatures produces AGE’s and when consumed the body absorbs about 10%. It doesn’t sound like much but overtime this build-up can lead to inflammation.
Sugar Glycation is a triple threat to the body:
1. Firstly, excess glucose creates cross-links in elastin and collagen fibers, which show up as wrinkles.
2. Secondly: glycation creates a weakened response to free radical damage causing the skin to age prematurely.
3. Thirdly; sugar in excess creates weight gain and is linked to many inflammatory diseases.
Collagen and elastin fibers are also prone to glycation, which shows up as discolored, wrinkled and less supple skin. The presence of AGEs also lessens the skin natural ability to fight off free radical damage due to UV light exposure and cigarette smoke. When skin cells are viewed using a Visia complexion camera, the cross-links formed between sugars and proteins emit a fluorescence color.
It’s important to note that not all sugar is bad, our cells actually need fructose to survive, however not all sugar is created equal. Refined sugar and natural sugar from fruit and vegetables metabolize differently in the body and have a different chemical output. Natural sugar also contains important vitamins and antioxidants that refined sugar does not contain. When we are young our bodies are better able to assimilate refined sugar and oxidative stressors, as we start to head into our 30’s and 40’s our ability to deal with oxidative stress and sugar gylation reduces and starts to show up externally in our skin in the form of wrinkles, sagginess and a sallow appearance.
Under normal circumstances the natural process of glycation wouldn’t be so alarming, but combined with a western diet high in refined sugar, carbs and fats gylation has become a common contributor to disease and pre-mature aging.
Bottom line, next time you reach for that candy bar or add sugar to your tea and coffee ask yourself if a moment of pleasure is worth wracking havoc on your health.