The effects of glycation on skin

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The effects of glycation on skin

We often stumble across the term 'oxidative stress' when it comes to ageing skin. But there's another bad guy on the skincare block - a process called 'glycation'. Here's a closer look at this lesser-known, skin-ageing villain.

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Glycation, a cause of ageing skin

Glycation is a chemical reaction that occurs when a sugar (glucose or fructose) and an amino acid or protein (largely present in dermal collagen and elastin fibres) cross paths whilst circulating around our bodies. Collagen and elastin support our skin, so when they become damaged there are multiple, negative consequences for our epidermis.

When sugars stick to amino acids, they 'caramelise' and cause these supporting fibres to become rigid. This process produces glycotoxins, compounds that our bodies can't eliminate. Glycation crystallises and hardens our supporting tissues to the point where they start to crumble. This is one reason why our skin becomes less supple, whilst losing elasticity and tone. On a surface level, our skin dries out and wrinkles appear.

So, how can you help your skin?

Firstly, you can limit glycation by keeping an eye on your diet. Avoid over-cooked foods (think 'fry ups', grilled or caramelised dishes), as these methods create up to 10 times more advanced glycation end products (AGE's) than boiling or steaming. Glycation is also accelerated by the consumption of high glycemic index foods - sucrose, sweet pastries, refined cereals and flours, cakes, jams, potatoes...

The good news is that there a lots of anti-glycation active ingredients:
- Carnosine is a great anti-ageing tool that acts a decoy. Rather than sticking to collagen or elastin fibres, sugars will cling to carnosine, which is then naturally expelled by the body.
- Aminoguanidine lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity. It helps glycation-causing sugars to stick to insulin rather than proteins, in order to prevent their destruction.
- Vitamine B1 accelerates cellular processes, meaning sugars don't have the time to stick to fibres. You'll find vitamin B1 in red meat, bread, cereals and rice.

So a big thumbs up to these dermis-saving active ingredients that keep our skin supple and elastic. Simple, effective ways to protect our skin and keep our youthful looks!

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