I admit it, I have a sweet tooth. And there have been times when I have forgone heathy nutritious meals in favor of low nutrition carbohydrates to feed my sugar addiction. Well… sugar tastes good doesn’t it? I’ve lucked out by the fact that I’ve always taken good care of my skin and it turns out that some of my skincare habits have saved me up to this point. I say up to this point because now that I’m post-menopausal I don’t have some of the built in defenses that estrogen offers to protect my skin from aging. I guess this means it’s time to get serious about kicking this sugar habit.
The problem with sugar causing premature aging starts with a natural process called glycation. Glycation is when sugars (carbohydrates) attach to proteins in the skin. The major proteins in your skin are collagen & elastin. These fibers make up a network of support that gives your skin strength, tone and flexibility. Imagine them as the outside rungs of a ladder. Carbohydrate chains form and attach themselves to each side of the ladder creating rungs that are stiff and inflexible. The end result is called advanced glycation end products (or AGEs for short).
So, think about what collagen and elastin does for your skin. They make your skin strong and firm skin that skin snaps back into place after it has been assaulted. As AGEs accumulate they stiffen the fibers and makes them ridged. Ridged fibers are no longer flexible, they create wrinkles and eventually sagging skin. The more sugar you eat the more AGEs develop.
This often starts to become noticeable around age 35, especially when combined with sun damage. Postmenopausally, as the presence of collagen and elastin diminishes, glycation is accelerated and a more fragile and less supportive type of collagen (type I) begins to replaces the older (type I and II) collagen fibers. The final blow is that AGEs cause a mild inflammation in the skin which deactivates antioxidants. Antioxidants are incredibly important when you’re trying to protect your skin from aging factors in the environment.
The good news is, it’s never too late to change your sugar habit. Unfortunately all sugar contributes to glycation. But, you can make great improvements by limiting yourself to natural sugars in the form of fruits, veggies and whole grains. This change is sure to cut down on your overall sugar consumption. Change your habits and there will be less AGEs. Plus, foods like these are high in anti-oxidants which protect your skin.
Next, (and this has been my saving grace) you can actually build new collagen by using products rich in peptides and retinols. At night try a combination of Retinol Resurfacing Treatment which is a gentle time released retinol where you can visibly see a strengthening and firming of your skin over time. Follow that with Peptide Firming Serum which is an antioxidant/peptide blend using pomegranate and peptides that have been extensively tested and found to increase collagen production. Make sure to perform regular exfoliation to help remove the damaged collagen. And, wear a potent antioxidant Serum (try C & E Antioxidant Serum) daily under a 30 SPF sunscreen.
Try adopting these good skincare habit and tossing the bad ones. You will enjoy great looking skin for years to come.