As we approach the coming holiday season with all of it’s celebrations, parties, goodies, libations, I thought it might be beneficial to pause and take a look at the toll this avalanche of sugar has on our skin. We all know that eating a lot of refined carbohydrates contributes to weight gain, diabetes, hypertension and many other systemic problems, but did you know that long-term it also greatly contributes to aging and other skin conditions? This is a huge subject worthy of lots of fun and lengthy research, but here’s the short version (since you have a life).
- Glycation is the result of a reducing sugar molecule bonding to a protein or lipid molecule without the controlling action of an enzyme. Glycation is an abnormal process and once these sugars combine with the proteins and lipids, they become cross-linked and do not slide over one another as they should, but become rigid and bound down. Think chains.
- With the buildup of simple sugars over a long period this increases our levels of systemic inflammation, which can make chronic inflammatory skin conditions much worse. You might say, “Well, I don’t have acne, rosacea, psoriasis or eczema so this really doesn’t affect my skin.” Not so fast.
- Inflammation dramatically increases the enzymes (MMP’s) that break down elastin and collagen – those lovely strong, flexible fibers in your lower skin layers that you have been working so hard to produce an protect. So not only is the dermis less elastic, but is thinning at much faster rates. The skin becomes stiff, bound-down by those chains and yellow-brown as we age. Here’s the kicker: this process really doesn’t get going until about age 35, and along with other factors, can rapidly add up.
About now, you’re probably thinking I’m the Grinch, but hold on. I’m not suggesting we stay at home and avoid any and all Holiday treats, but perhaps this year we can practice some balance – pick and choose our favorites and avoid indiscriminate “grazing.” This way, you’ll be watching your waistline and your skin health!