Glycation is the process that happens when sugar molecules bond to protein fibers or fat molecules in the cells without the controlling action of an enzyme. Collagen, which keeps skin firm and healthy, is made of vulnerable protein molecules. The skin’s collagen is broken down during the process of glycation, and inflammation occurs. As a result, the skin becomes stiff and the natural elasticity is lost. Skin becomes more vulnerable to wrinkling, sagging, and damage from ultraviolet rays. Eating a diet high in sugar appears to increase the rate of glycation that takes place in the body, speeding up the aging process. As we get older, the process of glycation increases, because we lose protection against it as we age. This compounds the process, which adds to the aging effects of glycation.
If you’re wondering about the effects of glycation on your own skin, there is a blood test available that can help determine the amount of glycation in the body: the hemoglobin A1c. This test has been used extensively for long term control of glucose in diabetic patients, but it can also be used as a tool for determining the amount of glycation that is occurring in the body.
Controlling the Effects of Glycation
How can we control the damaging effects of glycation? Increasing exercise, reducing weight, a low-glycemic diet, and supplements that help to lower blood sugar levels, such as cinnamon can help to reduce the problems caused by this reaction. Also, the nutrient carnosine has been shown to help prevent the formation of AGEs, or advanced glycosylation end products, the effects of glycation on the body. Carnosine can also reverse the effects of glycation in the skin and body. According to Supplement News, a consumer’s guide to nutritional supplements, carnosine is a safe supplement even in dosages exceeding 500mg.
1. Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com
2. Life Extension: https://www.lef.org
3. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycation
4. Supplement News: https://www.supplementnews.org