Candy, sodas and other foods laced with sugar are bad for our waistlines but did you know that these sweet white granules are also harmful to our skin? In fact, they contribute to a process called Glycation, which is the damage done to proteins caused by sugar molecules. Basically these proteins, like collagen that keep the skin smooth and plump, become misshapen and release exotoxins that upset cellular metabolism. While this happens at the cellular level, the physical damage is then seen as wrinkles, lines and discolouration.
“It’s an interesting subject that the industry has already known about but it’s the 800 pound gorilla no one wants to talk about,” explained Ron Cummings, founder and CEO of AminoGenesis Skin Care. “The two main processes that age the skin are oxidation and glycation but glycation is the machinery of ageing and more detrimental to our skin. When our body doesn’t utilize sugars in our system, they get into our bloodstream and attach themselves to proteins.”
Many anti-ageing products on the shelves highlight antioxidant ingredients that are used to neutralize free radicals. Topical moisturizers for example, can help combat the signs of ageing, but they don’t address the problem of glycation.
“Antioxidants fight inflammation caused by free radicals, which are largely created from external, environmental factors such as excessive sunlight or cigarette smoke,” says Cummings. “Glycation, though, damages from the inside out.”
So what products can be used to fight glycation? Cummings says new formulas that release the sugar molecule’s bond with protein are best because it allows the cell to return to its natural shape. His company, AminoGensis has developed the Age Control product which helps break this chemical bond between the sugar molecule and the protein to allow the protein to recover.
“I read research on the mimosa plant extract and discovered it has anti-glycation properties,” he explained. “It’s been thought that once a protein has been glycated, it can’t be repaired, but this new research has shown remarkable results.”
In addition to using a moisturizer with anti-oxidant properties, Cummings suggests using an anti-glycation product such as Age Control to fight all signs of ageing.
Glycation has also been studied in people with diabetes because they are susceptible to nerve damage and blindness. Due to the fact that these people have high blood sugar levels, they also have a higher rate of systemic glycation.
“Sugar is an addictive substance found in so many of our foods,” he adds. “Reducing your sugar intake can also help but also adopting a strategy to help combat these processes as they are happening is more effective.”