The general culprit of wrinkles is often thought to be sun damage. However, while excessive sun exposure, to the point of burning, can play a role in the formation of wrinkles, there is a cause overlooked.
Not many people are aware of the fact that sugar actually ages the skin much faster than the Sun, especially when you consider the anti-aging and beauty benefits of healthy sun exposure.
Yes, that’s right, a diet rich in sugar (even the healthy stuff) can lead to the formation of wrinkles. This occurs through a process known as glycation, where sugar binds to proteins in the skin, causing the formation of new molecules known ironically as AGEs or Advanced Glycation End-Products.
AGEs are destructive to the body tissues and are responsible for causing many of the age-related skin problems we know of, including:
• Reduced skin elasticity
• Thinning skin
• Tough, leathery skin texture
• Spider veins on the face
• Age spots
• And of course…wrinkles
All of these issues are caused by the destructive process known as glycation process, which essentially degenerations healthy tissue into a rough, calcified and fibrotic tissue.
What Causes Glycation?
We know what glycation is, but what causes this deteriorating process? Well, there are many contributing factors, but they essentially all come back to one primary issue, chronic stress.
Stress, at basic, is force counter-force. In other words, it is the phenomena of two opposing forces. Therefore, stress manifests in an infinite amount of ways. It can occur mentally and emotionally, chemically, thermogenically, electromagnetically (EMFs), nutritionally and physically.
The basic problem here is that when stress becomes chronic, in any form, it triggers a chronic inflammatory response. One of the side effects of chronic inflammation is glycation and specifically, wrinkles.
Wrinkles: More Than a Skin Problem
While it is inevitable that the body will age naturally (this is a very normal and healthy part of a life cycle), if your skin is aging rapidly, it could indicate underlying health problems. When we consider the fact that wrinkles are exacerbated by inflammation, too many, too soon might indicate inflammation and stress in the body.
For example, as we will discuss in a moment, if you eat a diet rich in sugar, you place extra stress on the liver. The liver then has to manage the excess intake of sugar, regulate insulin and neutralize free radicals to keep the body balanced. So really what we find is that the process of glycation is a form of physical stress, or in this case, nutritional and physical.
While sugar and processed foods may increase the number of wrinkles you experience, the process of glycation is nevertheless a form of stress in the body that may harm it in other ways aside from wrinkles alone. For example, excess sugar intake alone can damage the liver and kidneys, disrupt hormone balance, suppress immune function and cause oxidative damage and even mutate DNA. 1
Keep in mind that excess sugar intake is just one form of stress in the body, yet all forms of stress have very similar destructive effects on the organs, endocrine system, immune system and body as a whole.
Preventing & Reversing Wrinkles
In order to prevent wrinkles, we essentially want to prevent the process of glycation and chronic inflammation. As mentioned, there are a number of areas in which we can look to do this. However, for the sake of brevity, let’s look at an easy-to-understand part: diet.
Nutritional stress is one of the major stressors in the modern world. Our food supply is greatly degrading as the overall toxic burden of our planet increases. Because of this, a lot of food, specifically industrial foods, come with a toxic burden which causes inflammation in the body.
A good example of this is the heavy sugar load in processed foods. Refined sugar is an unnatural substance, which is biochemically and metabolically incompatible with the human body. This biological disharmony manifests in many metabolic disorders, one of them being a buildup of AGEs in the body. This leads to aged, wrinkled and weak skin. In fact, research has found that when there are high levels of AGEs in the skin, it becomes 10% more susceptible to sun damage, further causing the potential of wrinkles. 2
So as you can see, wrinkles might indicate more than natural aging of the body, but also correlated inflammatory issues. While the goal might not necessarily be to never have a wrinkle in your life time, there are some things we can do to improve our overall health and thus decrease the likelihood of unpleasant looking and unhealthy skin.
Some Simple Tips
While the long-term goal is to decrease your overall stress in all the areas previously mentioned, here are a few places to start…
• Cut Sugar – Keep in mind, sugar is sugar, even the “healthy” stuff like fruit sugar and raw honey can cause glycation when in excess. We do not necessarily require sugar to live or for good health, the liver produces glycogen on its own, and sufficient amounts to be healthy and have energy. This is perhaps why there are essential fatty acids, amino acids but no “essential sugars”. This isn’t to say you cannot utilize carbohydrate foods, which are derived of plant foods, it is just to say that the human body has more so evolved to burn fat for fuel. Either way, if your goal is to eliminate wrinkles or have good health, then you want to look at minimalizing your sugar intake, even the “good stuff” like raw honey, maple syrup, sugary fruits, and cane sugar. You will especially want to limit your intake of sugary fruits, as fructose (fruit sugar) is eight times more likely to cause glycation than glucose. Fructose is not an essential nutrient, glucose is however the basic energy for your cells, but your liver produces enough. Instead, take a Metabolic Typing test to determine your ethnic and racial dietary requirements based on thousands of years of lineage evolution and enjoy more natural, non-domesticated fruits, which are naturally lower in sugar such as lemons, limes, pomegranate, cranberry and other berries. This will prevent glycation and the antioxidants in these fruits, especially pomegranate, will actually stop the formation of wrinkle-causing AGEs. 3
• Drink Bone Broth – Rich in all the necessary building blocks for the skin; amino acids, Sulphur, hyaluronic acid, collagen and gelatin, this traditional superfood will deeply hydrate your skin while providing the essential materials your skin needs to regenerate. Once you have eliminated the primary causes of glycation, cut the sugar and other physical stressors, supplementing with bone broth will help “fill out” fine lines and replenish the integrity of your skin’s elasticity.
• Derma Roll – One of the best-kept secrets of the beauty industry is the Derma Roller. This contraption is essentially a handheld dermatological needle roller. However, it has impressive benefits on reducing wrinkles and smoothing the skin. The basic science behind it is that it generates the secretion of IGF and other self-repair hormones by inducing micro-wounds that cause acute inflammation. This procedure helps invoke the body’s natural healing process and restore skin integrity to afflicted skin tissue, ravaged by the effects of glycation and calcification. You can learn more about Derma Rolling in this previous post.
While aging of the skin is part of the Natural Life Cycle, extrinsic aging can be prevented. Epigenetics has proven that the human microbiome outnumbers the genome 100:1, which means that we have 100 times more influence over our genes via how to choose to live.
Modulating your environment, lifestyle and diet toward one of lower stress and harmony with nature can contribute to healthy aging, prevention, regeneration, and restoration of naturally beautiful skin.