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Glycation and skin aging: This is how you can avoid saccharification of the skin!

Too much sweetness is definitely not a piece of cake for your skin. Where exactly is the connection between the process of glycation and premature skin aging? There are ways you can prevent and slow down skin saccharification. You can find out what these are - and how the dreaded connection between too much sugar and your tissue fibers comes about - in this article.

Glycation: saccharification of the skin

Photos by Fleur Kaan and Mathilde Langevin

Too much sweetness is definitely not a piece of cake for your skin. Where exactly is the connection between the process of glycation and premature skin aging? There are ways you can prevent and slow down skin saccharification. You can find out what these are - and how the dreaded connection between too much sugar and your tissue fibers comes about - in this article.

Glycation: How does the skin become saccharified?

Well, too much sugar is to blame for that, you might think. The fact is, however, that a diet high in sugar is by no means the only cause of glycation.

  • Glycation is a normal part of the natural skin aging process that we cannot completely stop (but we can slow it down!) 1 .
  • During the glycation process, excess sugar molecules combine with, among other things, the skin's own structural proteins collagen and elastin 1 .
  • This creates advanced glycation end products (so-called AGEs : Advanced Glycation End-Products) that accumulate in the body.
  • Because these AGEs stick together our elastin and collagen fibers , they harden and lose their ability to regenerate. The skin becomes slacker, paler and is unable to perform its functions 1 . Visible consequences include premature lines, deep wrinkles and cellulite .

What happens during glycation in the skin?

  • The resulting AGEs drive skin aging . Our skin loses tone and elasticity. Over time, the AGEs cause the collagen to become stiff and brittle, so that it can no longer fulfill its function as an important supporting protein too early.
  • AGEs also trigger inflammatory processes that put the skin in a permanent state of emergency 2 . The connection of AGEs with special receptor cells (RAGE) leads to oxidative stress. The result: dry, sensitive skin, but also skin diseases such as acne 3 . This includes both pubertal acne and acne tarda.

The good news? The extent of saccharification of the skin also depends on external factors that you can control. These include, for example, high sugar consumption, but also too much UV radiation, too little sleep and smoking 4 . They cause increased AGEs to develop – and thus accelerate the glycation of the skin . Below you can read how you can avoid this.

Saccharification of the skin: You can reduce glycation with these 7 tips

We remember: the more AGEs we have in our body, the faster skin aging progresses. And be careful: the amount of AGEs that we supply to our body from outside is usually much larger than the amount that we produce ourselves as part of the natural aging process 5 .

What that means? That you can do a lot to reduce glycation-related skin aging with little effort. These 7 tips will help reduce AGEs and slow glycation.

1. Tame your inner sweet tooth.

Let's start with the obvious: If we give in to our sweet tooth too often, too much sugar ends up in our bloodstream. This causes our blood sugar levels to skyrocket - and leads to premature skin aging via glycation 1 .

A study from 2013 shows how much your weakness for sweets can influence your reflection in the mirror . Its result: people with high blood sugar levels are considered older than people with lower blood sugar levels - regardless of whether they have existing diabetes 6 .

Particularly worrying: every millimole more glucose in the blood per liter increased the estimated age by almost half a year 6 !

Here's how you can curb your sugar consumption:

  • Bite the bullet every now and then - or treat yourself to other healthy beauty snacks. Our favorites: nuts and seeds, pears, berries and dark chocolate (in moderation). Sweets rich in sugar, on the other hand, stimulate glycation and should be on your menu as rarely as possible.
  • Don't fall into the sugar trap when shopping. Sugar is hidden in many finished products, sweets, savory foods and drinks. Be careful not only with the classic granulated sugar, but also with added fructose and sugar synonyms such as sucrose, glucose syrup, maltose, dextrose, sweet whey powder, lactose and maltodextrin.

Excursus: That's why too much sugar makes you want to snack even more!

As a sweets junkie, you may know this: you've actually just treated yourself to a chocolate bar, but now it's back again - the irrepressible desire for sweets.

  • If we eat foods rich in sugar, it raises our blood sugar levels.
  • Our body reacts to this by releasing insulin . It ensures that sugar reaches our cells as fuel.
  • The problem: If too little sugar remains in the blood afterwards, hypoglycemia can occur.

The result? We are in the middle of the craving spiral .

2. Protect your skin from the sun.

UV light promotes glycation in the skin: it promotes the accumulation of AGEs in the skin, increases their damaging effects and triggers oxidative stress 1 . If you pay attention to sun protection, you will be good for your skin on several levels: Sunlight is considered one of the main factors for environmentally-related, premature skin aging and skin cancer.

Use a mineral sunscreen on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. This not only prevents saccharification of the skin, but also pigment spots and cell damage.

Check out our article on choosing the right sunscreen .

3. Limit your cigarette and alcohol consumption.

When your body metabolizes alcohol, AGEs are formed. Cigarette smoke also promotes the accumulation of AGEs in the tissues and bloodstream 5 . While internal glycation occurs slowly through the natural skin aging process, the extent of such external factors is in your own hands.

By the way: Both smoking and alcohol cause oxidative stress. Because oxidative stress stimulates the accumulation of AGEs and AGEs can simultaneously increase oxidative stress, your skin quickly enters a downward spiral.

4. Let your muscles work for you.

If you exercise regularly and strain your muscles, you can also influence the glycation process. This is what lies behind it:

  • Sugar (or glucose) serves as fuel for our muscles.
  • Sugar is stored in our muscles in the form of glycogen.
  • When muscles work, they tap into these glycogen stores .
  • If the stores are used up, our muscles get a supply of sugar from the blood.

Because this lowers blood sugar levels , you can prevent saccharification of the skin and minimize its effects through regular exercise. A 2014 study that compared endurance runners with healthy non-athletes confirmed that regular endurance exercise helps keep the accumulation of AGEs in the body at bay and counteracts the skin aging process 7 .

5. Make sure you relax.

If you manage to make your everyday life less stressful, you will be doing your skin several good things. Stress increases cortisol levels in the body, inhibits the production of collagen and accelerates skin aging by promoting the breakdown of the important supporting protein 8 .

In our article How does stress affect my skin you can read in detail what stress does to your skin.

Instead, make sure you get enough beauty sleep . It's not a fairy tale - studies confirm that sleep supports youthful skin. Glycation is also closely related to your sleep rhythm: short sleep duration increases the risk of developing insulin resistance. Too little sleep disrupts glucose metabolism and causes elevated blood sugar and insulin levels after meals the next day 9 .

6. Keep an eye on the glycemic index of foods.

The glycemic index is a kind of compass for how much a certain food causes blood sugar to rise .

If you want to avoid blood sugar spikes and glycation , it makes sense to integrate foods with a low glycemic index into your diet. A diet high in vegetables and plant-based proteins, combined with whole grains and fruit, will usually put you on the right track.

If white bread, ready-made products, sweets and simple carbohydrates are rarely on your menu, you are optimally protected against saccharification of the skin. Not only that: with a balanced diet you can prevent cravings and get hunger cravings under control in the long term.

Also important: AGEs also enter the body through the way you prepare your meals . This so-called exogenous glycation is responsible for the crust on grilled and seared foods 2 .

If you follow these tips, you can even prevent impurities. It is actually true that pimples can be caused by sugar and simple carbohydrates .

By the way: You can find further valuable information on the topic in our articles on anti-inflammatory nutrition and foods for beautiful skin .

7. Prevent glycation with the right skincare.

Let's come to the (sugar-free!) icing on the cake for well-groomed, fresh skin: facial care that provides your skin with valuable antioxidants . The antioxidant ingredients catch free radicals, support the skin's self-defense mechanisms in the event of oxidative stress and effectively inhibit the resulting glycation 1 .

Our FIVE products provide your skin with a rich bouquet of antioxidants, vitamins and valuable fatty acids. In our Balance and Regeneration facial oils, we combine antioxidant vitamin E with valuable, oxidation-stable organic oils, such as jojoba oil. Our light yet nourishing formulation actively supports your skin in regeneration and provides it with an extra portion of protection .

Conclusion: There are many ways to avoid and slow down glycation

In this article we showed you how the process of glycation affects our skin aging - and what helps to slow it down. Some of the glycation occurs as part of the natural skin aging process. But we can control many external factors that drive the saccharification of the skin .

Too much sugar also has a negative effect on healthy skin . We hope that our tips will help you stop being fooled by the sweet facade of being an addict. If you also make sure you get enough exercise, enough sleep, sun protection, a healthy lifestyle and treat yourself to facial care with antioxidants, you will be optimally protected against glycation.

You can discover the skin-loving facial care from FIVE Skincare in the shop .

I wish you all the best,
Sibyl

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