It may only take a few minutes of brisk walking to work off the calories from that teaspoon of sugar in our morning coffee, but the damaging effects of sugar on skin can persist for much longer. While the body uses sugars as the nutrient source for energy and maintaining cellular health, sugar has a dark side, combining with proteins, fats and even DNA through a chemical reaction called “glycation”.
What is Glycation — and Why Does it Age Skin?
During diabetes research, it was discovered in skin that sugar molecules can bind to proteins such as collagen and eventually form advanced glycation end products (appropriately termed AGEs). These AGEs can abnormally crosslink collagen molecules, making them less flexible and ultimately contributing to aged skin. Glycation causes damaged collagen to accumulate as we get older, leading to wrinkles and loss of suppleness. In addition, UV exposed skin speeds up the formation of AGEs.
So what to do? Although it’s impossible to completely remove sugar from one’s diet, there are now skin care products that fight glycation that our office can recommend, as well as visually analyze the skin to see if it has been effected. You can also Google search “glycation” and learn more about it.