What we put into our bodies is responsible for how well we look, feel and function. It’s as simple as that. We literally are what we eat! Our diets are responsible for the collective good health of our bodies and we love nothing better than to test that theory through the abundance of fad diets that promise the world. So, in terms of skincare and diet, is sugar ageing us? Does the sweet side of life contribute to general skin deterioration? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding 'yes'!
We know that skin ageing is a complex process related to both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. It has long been recognised that sun exposure, pollution and nasties such as cigarette smoke are relevant external factors that contribute to the ageing of our skin. Recent research has focused on the role of nutrition and diet as environmental factors that may be equally relevant in skin ageing.
|| HOW DOES SUGAR AGE THE SKIN?
To best understand how the sugar component of your diet affects skin integrity it is essential to understand Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs. Glycation was first described in the 1960's, and is recognised as a part of both extrinsic and intrinsic skin ageing.
Co-founder of Bespoke Skin Technology, Associate Professor Greg Goodman explains that AGEs represent one of the end products of the ageing process.
“They occur when the sugars that you eat bind to proteins in your body. Healthy collagen and elastin - those wondrous proteins in the skin that make it elastic, supple and plump - are effected by sugar, which causes degeneration of our skin”
|| BREAKING DOWN GLYCATION
Glycation is seen in collagen and elastin fibres in the dermis of the skin from the mid-thirties onwards. External factors, such as sun exposure, contribute to AGE deposition found in sun-damaged areas of skin where we can see “solar elastosis” if we look at skin under a microscope. These AGEs cause the yellow, sallow appearance of severely sun-damaged skin. AGEs cause changes to collagen and elastin called “crosslinking” which make them stiff. We see this on the skin surface as a loss of suppleness.
Once AGEs are deposited within our collagen and elastin, they are there to stay. So, it is better to prevent their arrival. Research shows that the rate of glycation in the skin can be slowed by decreasing our intake of sugars, and keeping our blood sugar readings within the normal range.
Glycation can be inhibited to an extent. AGE inhibitors can block sugar attachment to proteins. Fellow co-founder of Bespoke Skin Technology, Dr Katherine Armour explains;
“My favourite cosmeceutical ingredients which have been shown to prevent glycation in studies are green tea (Camellia sinensis), carnosine and turmeric. Green tea and turmeric are useful as glycation inhibitors when taken orally and when applied to the skin. Bespoke’s approach to preventing glycation in the skin is ‘all things in moderation.’”
But, to prevent skin ageing, do consider your diet as a contributor and avoid unnecessarily high sugar foods such as sweets and fizzy drinks. Consider sweet treats as “sometimes foods.”