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Skin aging due to sugar – what helps against “glycation”

Ever heard of glycation? This tissue “saccharification” is one of the most common causes of wrinkles and skin aging. Tikbow talks to an expert to clarify how sugar affects the skin and what you can do about it.

We have known for a long time that poor nutrition affects the appearance of our skin. In addition to excessive consumption of milk, gluten and alcohol, sugar also has an effect on the condition of the skin. This phenomenon is called glycation and has been studied in medicine in connection with diabetes for some time. However, the fact that it also contributes significantly to the formation of wrinkles in healthy people is a relatively new finding, even among experts,” says Munich dermatologist Dr. Timm Golke.

What is glycation?

Glycation refers to the "caramelization" or "saccharification" of tissue fibers. If the blood sugar level is frequently elevated, this can cause proteins to combine with sugar molecules and stick together. This biochemical reaction gives rise to so-called AGEs (advanced glycation end products), which the body identifies as "not normal" and against which it produces antibodies. The result: "inflammatory reactions that are accompanied by a hardening of collagen fibers and disrupt cell function", explains Dr. Golüke. With excessive consumption of sugar, the skin loses elasticity and becomes more susceptible to wrinkles and cracks.

Usually occurs after the age of 30.

As part of the natural maturation process of the skin, glycation does not usually occur until the age of 30,” explains the expert. By then at the latest, however, it is one of the main causes of intrinsic skin aging, i.e. aging that is not triggered by environmental influences such as UV rays or smog, but by internal factors. Since the 1980s, medical researchers have been searching for a substance that could render AGEs harmless.

Can glycation be reversed?

Companies like BASF are working to develop antidotes to glycation. BASF claims to have made a breakthrough with the active ingredient Collrepair. This is a compound consisting, among other things, of an aqueous extract of red root sage leaves and a number of B vitamins. The active ingredient is said to be able to stop the production of AGEs and even reverse already advanced skin aging. The extent to which the active ingredient can reverse skin glycation has not yet been conclusively clarified.

Tips to prevent glycation

Consume sugar in moderation

It is not recommended to cut it out of the diet completely. After all, even healthy foods such as fruit and some vegetables contain sugar. However, try to avoid unnecessary extra portions. Be especially careful with ready-made meals and sauces: they contain vast amounts of hidden sugar.

Antioxidant-rich diet

Antioxidants help against any form of inflammation in the skin that can cause wrinkles (sun, air pollution, food). Rich in them are foods such as green tea, fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C, for example pomegranates, citrus fruits and peppers.

An antioxidant skin care

Creams with active antioxidant ingredients, such as fruit acids, vitamin C or retinol, provide your skin with some protection against the free radicals you encounter in everyday life. Caution: You should be careful with the use of fruit acids in the summer. If you use too much of it, your skin is less protected and you can get an irregular brow.