How Does Sugar Cause Premature Skin Aging?

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Chocolate sweetsAre you conscious of your weight but it is impossible for you to resist sweets? You are not the only one! But what if we told you that in addition to some extra pounds and cellulite, sugar causes premature skin aging as well?

Scientists are warning people that chronic over-consumption of sugar causes inflammation in the deeper layers of the skin which triggers glycosylation, a biochemical reaction that in the long run leads to the deterioration of collagen and elastin fibers and the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, sagginess as well as discoloration on the surface of the epidermis.

What Is Glycosylation?

As it is known, carbohydrates provide the necessary energy to the cells, the fuel for all their functions. To do this, our body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose.

However, in cases where blood sugar is high, it binds to proteins (for example hemoglobin, collagen, etc.) and body lipids, forming non-functional, harmful macromolecules, known as AGEs (Advanced Glycosylation End Products), which cause micro-inflammations that inactivate our natural antioxidant enzymes.

This biochemical reaction is called glycosylation. Especially in the dermis, if the AGEs remain for several weeks there, they make the collagen fibers (mainly of type III) as well as elastin hard and inflexible, resulting in the skin losing its firmness.

At the same time, oxidative stress -which is favored by the presence of AGEs- accelerates the normal process of the cells wearing out and, consequently, premature aging of the epidermis.

The more intense the phenomenon of glycosylation on the skin is, the more vulnerable the skin becomes to environmental damage, UV rays damage and smoking negative effects.

When Does Glycosylation Appear?

As dermatologists point out, the change in the skin due to glycosylation is not directly visible. It appears around the age of 35 and becomes more noticeable when it is combined with photo-aging due to excessive exposure to UV rays.

When menopause appears, the production of collagen and elastin fibers decrease and at the same time glycosylation happens on a larger scale, which leads to the formation of mainly type I collagen (more brittle and less supportive collagen), taking the place of the strongest type II and III collagen.

Other Negative Effects of Glycosylation

In addition to premature skin aging, the inflammation that is caused by AGEs is also responsible for the exacerbation of adult acne and rosacea.

Especially in the case of acne, over-consumption of sugar triggers the secretion of hormones which in turn lead to increased secretion of sebum and the appearance of pimples.

How To Prevent Glycosylation

  • Reduce the consumption of refined sugar. But be careful with sugar substitutes because, according to studies, fructose promotes the creation of AGEs even more than refined sugar. Stevia sweetener is a better alternative.
  • Follow a balanced diet which will contain fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Avoid fast cooking at high temperatures because they promote the formation of AGEs.
  • Reduce smoking.
  • Look for anti-aging skin care products with active ingredients (for example vitamin C serums, peptide serums, retinol creams) that favor the synthesis of new collagen and elastin fibers as well as products enriched with sunscreen filters and antioxidants to protect skin from glycosylation.
  • Exercise regularly. It is a good way to eliminate sugar from the body.

All in all, in this article, we have explained how sugar causes premature skin aging and recommended some good ways to prevent the negative effects of sugar over-consumption to your skin.

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