Sugar… So Good, So Bad – Glucose, Aging and Skin Glycation by Deborah Tosline

Model depicting relationship between mechanical tension, and collagen production, fragmentation and continual loss of collagen in human skin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887041/

Model depicting relationship between mechanical tension, and collagen production, fragmentation and continual loss of collagen in human skin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887041/

Deborah Tosline wrote and published “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” in 2015. Her approach to skin care is based on a scientific background, love of research and over 30 years of DIY skincare experience.

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Skin glycation causes lasting damage. No cream will protect your skin from glycation like a few new habits will. Prevent it, reduce it, and keep your skin healthy (=beautiful). If you have eschewed a healthy lifestyle but you want beautiful skin throughout your life, skin glycation may be your new incentive.

For decades, we’ve known about the negative impacts of sugar on health yet we are increasingly inundated and consuming processed foods, candies, snacks, and simple carbohydrates that contain loads of sugars that seriously degrade our health, contribute to rapid aging and ruin our skin. 

Aside from our beauty goals, skin health is vital. Skin, our largest organ, multi-tasks to keep us comfortable and safe; it provides a boundary between us and the environment, treat it like its special.

Recent aging research has focused on how disease progresses and ways to mitigate age-related diseases. Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products have been found to form in high amounts during aging. 

Information about AGEs comes from diabetes research.

It’s a complicated biochemical process but simply put when excess sugar is in your system it interacts with the proteins and fats in your body to produce AGE products.  Glycated collagen collapses the skin matrix and reduces the collagen and elastin volume.

A, uncross-linked collagen; B, cross-linked collagen with EDC/NHS ratio of 2:1; C, cross-linked collagen with EDC/NHS ratio of 1:1,  http://jammonline.com/en/articles/20846.html

A, uncross-linked collagen; B, cross-linked collagen with EDC/NHS ratio of 2:1; C, cross-linked collagen with EDC/NHS ratio of 1:1, http://jammonline.com/en/articles/20846.html

Skin glycation causes cross-linked collagen. When collagen becomes cross-linked the protein molecules become linked and stuck to other proteins which leads to stiff skin with decreased flexibility.  This results in thick, discolored, weak, loose, less supple, wrinkly, saggy, dry skin with enlarged tissues and excess cell growth. In addition, glycation causes free radicals (Reactive Oxygen Species) and makes skin more vulnerable to damage from Ultra Violet (UV) light and cigarette smoke. 

It has been shown that when glucose blood levels are high, more AGE’s are produced and when AGE’s increase, the aging process increases. 

AGE’s are produced as a natural part of aging as a result of internal processes. AGEs are also produced due to external stressors including poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, sunlight exposure, tobacco, synthetic chemicals, pollution and more. External stressors accelerate the production of AGE’s (and the aging process). 

Effects of AGEs on skin. AGEs are formed intracellularly and extracellularly. They can react with proteins, lipids and nucleic acids in almost all skin cells as well as on intracellular or extracellular proteins. Triangles represent AGEs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583887/

Effects of AGEs on skin. AGEs are formed intracellularly and extracellularly. They can react with proteins, lipids and nucleic acids in almost all skin cells as well as on intracellular or extracellular proteins. Triangles represent AGEs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583887/

 The total numbers of AGEs in the body is a result of both the formation and the removal of AGEs. AGEs interfere with normal body processes when they interact with receptors and accumulate in tissues resulting in inflammation and cell growth. AGEs accumulate in long-lived proteins like Collagen types I and IV which turnover about every 10 years. Glycated collagen begins to appear at about age 20, accumulates at about 4 percent per year and results in a 30 to 50 percent increase by age 80.

AGEs do not significantly accumulate in sun-protected skin, but they do accumulate in sun-exposed skin.  

There are many different types of AGEs and many are eliminated. The body is capable of removing AGEs and preventing them from accumulating when a person has a healthy biochemistry. 

Schematic presentation of the Maillard reaction. Reactive carbonyl groups of a reducing sugar react with neutrophilic free amino groups of proteins to form a reversible Schiff base. Through rearrangement a more stable Amadori product is formed. Dependent on the nature of these early glycation end products, protein adducts or protein crosslinks are formed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583887/

Schematic presentation of the Maillard reaction. Reactive carbonyl groups of a reducing sugar react with neutrophilic free amino groups of proteins to form a reversible Schiff base. Through rearrangement a more stable Amadori product is formed. Dependent on the nature of these early glycation end products, protein adducts or protein crosslinks are formed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583887/

Strategies including nutrition, diet, exercise, sleep and more are currently being developed to enhance the AGE detoxification process. 

Scientific investigations have identified substances and suggestions to prevent or reduce AGE production and repair existing AGEs. 

After reading through the literature, I compiled the following list of potential AGE inhibitors. Although the list is long it is not comprehensive. I did not research the importance of exercise and sleep to prevent AGE production. Be sure to practice good sleep hygiene and for goodness sake exercise any and every way that you can. 

This article would turn into a book if I really went into the details and neither one of us has time for that. I do include extra information for select list items. Sorry for leaving you wondering about some of the ingredients, I’m left wondering too. My gut instinct has been and continues to be, apply and consume as many anti-oxidant rich foods, products, herbs and spices as you can all day, every day. It’s a tough world and anti-oxidants are a good defense against free radicals.

  • Aminoguanidine - treats early glycation products, has no effect on advanced glycation.

  • Pyridoxamine, naturally occurring vitamin B6 traps reactive intermediates, scavenges Reactive Oxygen Species and inhibits AGE formation. (I will get and use this soon)

  • Topical nutrients:

    • blueberry extract

    • hexapeptide-3 - matrix remodeling and repair, improves skin health, a 100% increase in skin hydration and 425% in skin smoothness in one hour is reported. (I did not read the original reference but am interested)

    • pentapeptide-34 trifluoroacetate - promotes skin production of CoQ10.

    • pomegranate extract - stimulates type I collagen.

    • terminalia chebula fruit extract - breaks bonds in cross-linked proteins. (I need to research this more, it may reverse existing damage)

  • Antioxidants and metal chelators have been shown to inhibit glycation and AGEs:

    • alpha-lipoic acid

    • ascorbic acid

    • carnosine – reduces glycation (suppresses telomere shortening!)

    • coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - protects, repairs and regenerates skin, DNA repair.

    • green tea-derived polyphenol and flavonoid epigallocatechin-3-gallate

    • manganese

    • N-acetylcystein with taurine and oxerutin

    • niacinamide

    • pyridoxal

    • rivoflavin

    • selenium yeast

    • sodium selenite

    • trolox

    • vitamin C - significantly decreases serum protein glycation

    •  vitamin E - α-tocopherol

    • zinc 

  •  Spices and herbs have been shown to inhibit glycation due to their phenolic content:

    • ginger

    • cinnamon

    • cloves

    • marjoram

    • rosemary

    • tarragon

  • Other promising AGE reducing compounds include:

    • blueberry extract 

    • naturally occurring flavonoids, such as luteolin, quercetin and rutin

The food that you eat and the way that you prepare it increases AGEs in the body and during consumption. Fasting, intermittent fasting and time restricted eating may be effective in preventing the accumulation of AGEs. 

  • Foods and cooking methods that are HIGH in dietary AGE end products:

    • dry heat-processed foods

    • animal-derived foods high in fat and protein; cooking these foods increases AGEs

    • grilling, broiling, roasting, searing, and frying

    • modern processed diet is a large source of AGEs 

  • Foods and cooking methods that are LOW in dietary AGE end products:

    • carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat milk 

    • blueberries ranked as one of the highest glycation prevention (Yay!)

    • cooking with moist heat (poaching, steaming, stewing, and boiling) shorter cooking times, cooking at lower temperatures

    • use of acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar before cooking

    • fish, legume consumption

    • reducing intake of solid fats, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and highly processed foods

Although I crave sweets, I’ve avoided sugar for decades. To satisfy my sweet desire, I’ve modified recipes for 30 years, replacing ingredients with whole grains and complex sweeteners, reducing the amount of sugar called for in a recipe by ½ to ¾ of the required amount and using dates, coconut sugar and raw honey instead of sugar. I still struggle. If I eat a mainstream confection it makes me feel bad physically because I am so accustomed to low sugar. After this research I’ll be upping my anti-AGEs inhibitors and further trying to reduce my own low sugar intake. 

Although lately, I’ve been hooked on a flourless cake recipe using dates, eggs, and cocoa with unsweetened chocolate. Nutrients, date sweet, fudgy - better tasting and healthier than commercial products.

I got off track.

Reduce your sugar intake, saturate yourself in anti-AGE inhibitors and enjoy a little modified chocolate cake once in awhile. 

P.S. reducing the formation of glycation and breaking the existing stiff bonds of glycation will make you feel better. Glycation hardens more than skin proteins. Health = Beauty.

If you need more information, go to the library, search the Internet, read my past Blog articles, or get my book “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” 

Take good care of yourself. xo

Deborah

This article is intended to be used as general information only and is in no way intended to replace medical advice, be used as a medical treatment program, diagnosis, or cure of any disease or medical condition. There are no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding the effectiveness of the practices described in this article. Products or substances discussed herein are for educational purposes only and are not intended as recommendations of the author.