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Glycation: The Collagen Destroyer!

We love sugar. We know it’s bad for our waistlines, but did you know that there’s another reason why we should think twice before eating that slice of cake? It’s not kind to our precious collagen.

As we get older, we don’t have enough collagen as it is! That’s a big reason as to why we lose our skin’s plump and firm youthfulness and get sagging skin and wrinkles, and that’s why a lot of aesthetic treatments and medical grade skincare products aim to stimulate collagen production. Oxidative stress (please read my blog about it), from external factors including UV light, pollution, and cigarette smoke, coupled with reducing oestrogen levels for us ladies is bad enough; we don’t need anything else jeopardising our precious reserves, but sadly our diet affects our collagen too.

During a process known as Glycation, glucose molecules cling on to fats and proteins and form Advanced Glycation End (AGE) Products. This process causes oxidative stress and results in inflammation and cell damage, and it also makes our proteins stiff and weak and inflexible. Collagen and elastin are proteins, and yep, you’ve guessed it; they’re a favourite place for glucose molecules to hang out.

Glycation isn’t just bad for our skin; it can lead to chronic inflammation and tissue damage and conditions including Alzheimer’s, liver disease, heart disease, cataracts and blood vessel problems, to name just a few. This is why it’s especially important for diabetics to keep their sugar intake low. Their insulin isn’t able to help, so they have to strictly control their sugar intake to prevent inflammation, tissue damage and diseases.

Glycation doesn’t just occur as a result of eating refined sugar. Foods that are lower on the Glycaemic Index (GI) also contain glucose. We need some glucose for our metabolism and our cells, but it’s best to try to stick to a diet that’s low-GI. A low GI diet includes foods that contain carbohydrates that are broken down and converted to glucose more slowly. This isn’t the same as low carb; more slow carb. As always, stopping smoking and taking regular exercise is highly recommended too. Your cells will thank you for it by giving you radiant, healthier skin.

So, aside from following a low GI diet and having a healthier lifestyle, how else can we lessen the effects of glycation on the skin? Well, antioxidants, including olive, green tea, and vitamins A, C and E, both topically and orally will help to defend against oxidative stress, and some of these also aid collagen synthesis too. Aesthetic treatments that stimulate the fibroblasts to produce new collagen, including medi-facials, peels, microneedling, LED phototherapy and mesotherapy, are also going to really help. Use a good quality anti-oxidant every day, and a daily 30-50 SPF throughout the year is also really important.

If you’d like more information about cosmeceutical skincare products, which contain high levels of antioxidants, nutritional supplements that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, or aesthetic treatments that help to stimulate collagen synthesis, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

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