Glycation: What is it/what does it have to do with sugar and your skin?

Our bodies have thousands of processes that occur naturally, glycation is one of them that happens when we eat sugar. It is the process where sugar in our bloodstream attaches to other molecules such as proteins and fats to form advanced glycation end products. These products have negative impacts on the skin such as decreased collagen and elastin production, resulting in weaker, damaged skin. This damage can show itself as wrinkles and loss of facial volume. The glycation process can also cause other skin problems such as increased inflammation and free radical formation.

What causes glycation?

Glycation is natural process which to an extent, happens in our bodies all the time. However, it becomes a problem when glycation in our skin is greatly increased when we eat too much sugar.

Foods to avoid to limit the glycation process include high glycaemic foods such as white rice and potatoes, along with sugary foods such as cakes, chocolates and lollies. Surprisingly, it’s not only “naughty foods” that can cause glycation. Eating too much fructose (the sugar found in fruit) is even more active in Advanced Glycation End Products than glucose, so stick to 2-3 pieces of fruit a day.

Can we reverse the damage of glycation?

Bad news; once the glycation process has occurred and affected particular molecules, this damage is permanent. But there’s hope! Although existing damage cannot be reversed, there are active steps you can take to prevent future damage for maintain healthy, youthful looking skin.

Increase your antioxidants
There are studies that show antioxidants can help decrease the harmful effects of glycation, so stock up on antioxidant high foods such as blueberries, raspberries, walnuts and ginger.

Protect your skin from the sun
Excessive UV exposure can increase the formation of Advanced Glycation End products, so ensure you limit your sun exposure and ALWAYS wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Lastly and most importantly: Reduce the sugar intake and always choose low-glycaemic foods
We know it’s hard, but try keep sugary treats as just that, a treat (to have occasionally, not daily). To keep sugar cravings at bay, choose low-glycaemic foods to keep you full for longer such as whole grains and good fats. The below are some of our favourite glycation proof snacks for when we’re wanting some sugar!

  • Almonds
  • Avocadoes
  • A small trim or soy latte
  • Oatmeal crackers