Glycation: The real reason you might want to avoid those left over Halloween sweets

-Nov 5, Hannah Hargrave , Health -

With so many sweets around at this time of the year it’s almost impossible not to cave in to your sugar cravings. But it’s not just your waistline and your teeth which will pay the price for your tasty binge, it’s your skin too.So before you dive into that bucket of sweets left over from trick or treating you might want to learn how sugar causes wrinkles and premature ageing too.

Refined sugar is sadly the enemy when it comes to a healthy body. We know consuming too much can cause weight gain, mess with your energy levels, cause diabetes and a whole host of other unpleasant side effects. But what many don’t realise is the decidedly unsavoury effect it has on your skin, and a sneaky process called glycation is behind this.

What is glycation?

Glycation is a natural reaction that takes place when we have sugar molecules in the body. They attack the body’s cells and cling on to proteins and fats to form advanced glycation end products (aptly shortened to AGEs). But these cause proteins fibres to become stiff.
Unfortunately the proteins in your skin which are most prone to glycation are the exact ones which are the cornerstone of a youthful complexion; collagen and elastin.
Glycation breaks them down and makes them weak so your skin becomes saggy, thin and wrinkles start taking shape.
As if that’s not bad enough glycation also strips the skin of hyaluronic acid, which is your natural moisturiser. So if you suffer from dry skin you might want to take a look at your sugar consumption.

Related: Can a supplement make you look and feel younger?

How to combat glycation

Sugar is essential to living and you shouldn’t completely cut out all types of it. But you can make smarter, healthier choices with the sugars you consume. Eradicate processed foods from your diet and opt for wholegrain breads, pastas and rice with less glucose but still a slow release of energy rather than a sugar buzz. White sugar and high-fructose corn syrup have been show to increase the rate of glycation 10 times compared with glucose. So it makes sense to steer clear of them.
Another way to slow down glycation – because it can’t be halted completely – is with a lesser known dipeptide called carnosine that actually disrupts the process.
The bad news is carnosine supplements can’t be absorbed by the body but the good news is amino acid, alanine can be. Alanine upgrades the stores of carnosine in the body so helps protect your skin from glycation in a roundabout way.

Related: Carolyn Hartz: ‘How I went from sugar addict to kicking the habit for good’

Protecting your collagen

As you age, your collagen and elastin levels naturally deplete and adding sugar to the mix won’t help this.
There are several ways you can boost and protect the skin plumping proteins in addition to cutting down on the sweet stuff.
Add more vitamin C to your diet with kale, kiwi fruits, tomatoes and a whole host of other delicious foods too. Quit smoking, indulge in regular collagen stimulating facial massages and of course drink plenty of water.

If this articles has got you wishing you didn’t have such a sweet tooth then you might also like to read how you can curb your sugar cravings for good and if you think smoothies are healthy, you might want to think again!

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