What is glycation and should I worry about it?

-Jul 9, Jenny Paul , Health -

What is glycation – the chances are that you might not know the answer to that off the top of your head. The fact of the matter is it’s happening to all of us because it’s part of the natural ageing process.

What is glycation?

It’s common knowledge that sugars and carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose and fructose which is then used as fuel for the body.

But as we age – or if we consume too much sugar or high-glycemic foods – the sugars react with proteins and fats in an abnormal way. The result of this is that harmful molecules called ‘advanced glycation end products’ are produced. This is glycation.

The more AGEs – the rather appropriate acronym for the above – we have, the more we age.

What does glycation do to the skin? 

The proteins in your skin which glycation affects most are collagen and elastin, the very same ones that maintain your plumped up and youthful looking complexion.

So too much sugar can leave your skin weak, discoloured and cause loss of elasticity. On the surface these problems present themselves as wrinkles, loss of radiance and sagging.

In addition glycation causes free radicals to form and oxidative stress speeds up the ageing process.

Although The British Journal of Dermatology reported that after the age of 35, glycation in the skin naturally increases, keeping out of the sun can help because exposure to UV rays accelerates the process too.

Glycation and disease

People with poorly controlled diabetes have been proven to have higher levels of AGEs. So if you suffer from the disease it’s even more reason to manage your sugar intake because the ageing process is accelerated in sufferers. AGEs have been shown to clog the small blood vessels in the eyes, heart, kidneys, and brain. All too often these organs are affected by diabetes too.

Accumulation of AGEs have also been associated with heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, kidney disease, cataracts and rheumatoid arthritis.

Which foods are high and which are low in AGEs?

As previously mentioned glycation is a natural process and will happen to us as we age, whether we like it or not, but that’s not to say we can’t manage it and be aware of what can causes high levels.

First and foremost reduce sugar intake. We’re not advising you to cut it out completely, especially since healthy whole grains, fruits and vegetables turn into glucose too but the UK government recommends adults should not consume more than 30g of free sugars per day.

Even the way you cook your food has been shown by studies to affect glycation. All those brown, crispy and delicious foods resulting from being roasted, barbecued, fried and sautéed are high in AGEs.

Stick to healthier cooking methods such as steaming, poaching or boiling.

Red meat and cheese have high AGEs, so if you’re after a dose of protein chicken, fish, eggs or legumes are a better option.

Yoghurt and milk are low in AGEs (reduced fat is better) but steer clear of cream and butter.

Grains, such as rice and porridge oats are low in AGEs but only if they’re not packed into processed, sugary biscuits or crackers and fats from vegetables have fewer AGEs than animal fats.

The nutrients to reduce glycation 

Eat a diet that’s rich in antioxidants and low on foods which cause inflammation if you want to reduce glycation. There is a complex link between nutrition and our skin’s health. Scientists have extensively studied the impact of diet on how the skin ages. We’ve included antioxidant nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and turmeric in Lumity’s flagship Morning and Night formula, along with a powerhouse team of amino acids. The result is targeted daily nutritional help to combat oxidation, inflammation, glycation and more as you age, helping you to look and feel your best as the days go by. 

Get better as you age. 

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