We have all heard that sugar is bad for us, but did you know that a sweet tooth may lead to wrinkles? This surprising fact is down to what happens in your body when you eat sugar. To blame is a natural process known as glycation, in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins. When this happens harmful new molecules are formed.
The dermatologist and author Dr Fredric Brandt explains how these molecules accumulate and “damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion.” Particularly at risk of damage are collagen and elastin, which lose their natural resilience and become dry and brittle. This is a direct cause of visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles.
[pullquote]Not only does a diet high in sugar increase this rate of damage, it also affects the type of collagen that you have.[/pullquote]Not only does a diet high in sugar increase this rate of damage, it also affects the type of collagen that you have Skin is made up of the main types of collagen, type I, II and III. Type III collagen is the longest lasting and most stable, and helps to maintain good skin. However, through the process of glycation, high sugar diets can encourage a loss of type III collagen and an increase in the more fragile type I collagen. “When that happens, the skin looks and feels less supple,” says Brandt.
As if this was not bad enough, the process of glycation also hinders the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the skin, which leads to free-radical damage and increased photoaging.