Sugar Ages our Skin (and What to Do About It)

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by Nils Osmar – June 20, 2022 – Medical Disclaimer

Want to look younger? Cutting sugar out of your diet may be a shortcut for getting there. This is true of sucrose, but also of other forms of sugar (including fructose – even that naturally occurring in fruit and fruit juice).

The reason is a phenomenon called glycation, defined as “the bonding of a sugar molecule to a protein or lipid molecule without enzymatic regulation”. This process plays havoc in the body. Here’s a quote from a study called “Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation“:

Glucose and fructose link the amino acids present in the collagen and elastin that support the dermis, producing advanced glycation end products or “AGEs.”

This process is accelerated in all body tissues when sugar is elevated and is further stimulated by ultraviolet light in the skin.

So glycation is bad news. But the good news is that it’s easy to control by (1) making some changes in our diets and (2) minimizing our exposure to ultraviolet light.

Cutting Back on Sugar(s)

Does this mean we need to give up all fruit along with other sweets? Some people might actually benefit from doing so, at least for a while. Speaking anecdotally, there was a period in my life when I almost lived on fruit salads. I was eating the salads daily, and also drinking fruit juice, which can further exacerbate the damage from fructose because of the absence of fiber. I started gaining weight and developed serious insulin resistance. When I cut fruit (and sucrose) completely from my diet, I started gradually recovering. Years later, I was able to gradually add back in small amounts of fruit.

For those who want to avoid doing down the road I did, one obvious approach is portion control. You might eat a half of an apple instead of a whole one, or a half cup of berries instead of a full cup. That way you can still get the benefits of the phytonutrients and fiber, but without spiking your blood sugar and doing harm to your skin in the process.

Supplements that Lower Blood Sugar

There are a number of supplements that lower blood glucose. One that I’m currently taking is berberine. A recent study (Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes) found berberine to be as effective as metformin at lowering blood glucose, and actually better at lowering lipips. From the study:

In newly-diagnosed diabetic patients, berberine reduced blood glucose and lipids (Table 2). There were significant decreases in HbA1c (by 2%; P < 0.01), FBG (by 3.8 mmol/L; P < 0.01) and PBG (by 8.8 mmol/L; P < 0.01) in the berberine group.

The FBG (or PBG) declined progressively during the berberine treatment, reaching a nadir that was 3.7 mmol/L (or 8.7 mmol/L) below baseline by week 5, and remained at this level until the end of the study (Fig 1A). Triglycerides and total cholesterol decreased by 0.24 mmol/L (P < 0.05) and 0.57 mmol/L (P < 0.05) with berberine treatment.

Compared with metformin, berberine exhibited an identical effect in the regulation of glucose metabolism, such as HbA1c, FBG, PBG, fasting insulin and postprandial insulin. In the regulation of lipid metabolism, berberine activity is better than metformin. By week 13, triglycerides and total cholesterol in the berberine group had decreased and were significantly lower than in the metformin group (P<0.05).

Re: UV Radiation and Glycation

Re: UV radiation, the biggest source most of us are exposed to is the sun. There are.some benefits to sun exposure, but also dangers. The CDC recommends using sunscreens, and also taking these steps to protect from UV radiation damage:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
  • Wear a wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

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  1. Chuck Frasher says:

    I would also add Benfotiamine, Carnosine, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, R lipoic acid, and “Autophagy Renew” to interfere with the formation of various forms of AGEs and prevent the damage they cause in both proteins and lipids….and also increase autophagy through fasting and “Autophagy Renew”.

  2. Hi Chuck, Thanks for the additions to the list. Have you tried “Autophagy Renew” yourself? If so, feel free to share your experiences with it.

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