you are a long-time Perricone reader you know that I am no fan of sugar or other foods that rapidly convert to sugar in the
blood stream (bread, desserts, chips, rice and corn cakes, pasta, potatoes, baked goods, fruit juices, etc.). Yet sugar, in its many forms, is everywhere.
it might be easy to walk past the sugar in its obvious forms—such as the products in the candy, baked goods, soda, cereal
and cookie aisles of your supermarket—sugar, in one form or another, is in everything from yogurt to condiments such
as salad dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, mustard, and barbecue sauce.
addition to the usual natural sweeteners—sugar (white or brown), honey, maple syrup, cane syrup, and molasses—there
are many hidden sources of sugars, including corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrate,
maltose, galactose, lactose, polydextrose, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltodextrin, and invert syrup. Most “processed” foods contain one or more of these forms of sugar, or high-glycemic carbohydrates
such as corn starch and white flour.
As a physician, I am against
sugary and starchy foods because they cause an inflammatory response in the body—a reaction that's proven to accelerate
aging and promote dangerous degenerative conditions and diseases. We are also
in the midst of a major obesity epidemic affecting all age groups, from pre-schoolers and teens to adults and seniors.
Even our pets are pudgy!
As a dermatologist, I am
against sugary and starchy foods because the inflammation they induce (which takes place on a cellular level) shows up on
the skin as a loss of radiance, dark circles under the eyes, the loss of tone, puffiness, an increase in fine lines and wrinkles,
the loss of facial contours and increased pore size. These foods can also exacerbate
acne, which is a systemic, inflammatory disease. I am not exaggerating
when I say that sugar can rob you of your youth, health, and beauty.
We have all had it drummed
into our heads that sugary, starchy foods are bad for us. In this newsletter
I want to let you know exactly what effect they have on our skin. Once we understand
this, that doughnut or bagel may lose some, if not all, of its allure.
Glycation: The age-accelerating
reaction to excess blood sugar
When foods rapidly convert
to sugar in the bloodstream—as both sugar and high glycemic carbohydrates do—they bond to the protein in your
tissues, via a process known as glycation. This is the same chemical reaction that
browns meats and toughens food in storage. Glycation can occur in skin as well,
creating detrimental age-related changes to collagen—and that means deep wrinkles.
When glycation occurs in
your skin, the sugar molecules attach themselves to the collagen fibers, where they trigger a series of spontaneous chemical
reactions. These reactions culminate in the formation and gradual accumulation
of irreversible “cross-links” between adjoining collagen molecules. This
extensive cross-linking of collagen causes the loss of skin elasticity.
Healthy collagen strands
normally slide over one another, which keeps skin elastic. If a young person
smiles or frowns, creating lines in the face, the skin will snap back and be smooth again when she stops smiling or frowning. But the skin of a person whose collagen has been cross-linked from years of eating
carbs and sugars does not snap back and smooth out. Those deep grooves
remain, because that is where the sugar molecules have attached to collagen, making the fibers stiff and inflexible.
Besides being visible in
our faces, we can easily see the aging properties of carbohydrates in the laboratory.
Fibroblasts are the cells that produce collagen and elastin fibers, the strands of tissue that give the skin its strength
and flexibility. If just a drop of sugar is added to a cell culture of fibroblasts,
within a minute or two we can measure a sharp rise of inflammatory chemicals in the cells.
Sugar can also attach to
components in the cell plasma membrane forming chemicals called “advanced glycation end products”, appropriately
known as AGEs. Accumulation of AGEs in a cell can lead to malfunction and, as
the acronym indicates, aging. In addition to producing wrinkled, sagging skin,
glycation degrades other vital organs, including your kidneys, lungs, and brain.
The bond between the sugar
and collagen generates a continuous stream of free radicals, which damage our cells and tissues and stimulate even more inflammation. When glycation occurs in the skin, the ultimate effect is not unlike tanning a leather
hide. Over time, skin begins to resemble a cross between beef jerky and an old
boot, unevenly discolored and heavily striated with deep lines and grooves.
Excess sun makes matters
Excessive exposure to the
sun produces a damaging double-whammy. Sun damage to your skin accelerates the
glycation process, while skin proteins modified by glycation sensitize your DNA to the damaging effects of the sun’s
Sun exposure also helps reduce
collagen levels in the skin over time. The sun’s UV-A rays generate free radicals that oxidize the proteins, lipids,
and DNA in the skin, while, UV-B rays absorbed by DNA promote the cross-linking of adjacent proteins. The end result is an increase in a destructive enzyme known as matrix metalloproteinase and a shortage
of the molecule the body uses to make collagen. Limit unprotected sun exposure
to 20 or 30 minutes per day, and protect your skin from the sun (with hats, clothes and UVA/UVB-blocking sunscreen) at other
times: especially during the peak sun-intensity hours of 10 am to 2 pm.
Repairing the damage
We all are guilty of eating
sugar and high glycemic foods, and most of us can also lay claim to our share of skin-damaging sun worship. The good news is that it is never too late to begin the repair process.
Start with the Three-Day
Anti-Inflammatory Diet for a quick fix. Everyone who tries it reports that
they not only feel rejuvenated, their skin starts to reclaim the radiant, healthy glow of their younger days. It is a great motivator to change your way of eating for the long-term.
Next, log onto www.glycemicindex.com
to learn which carbs are our best bets to reduce inflammation. If we can keep
our carb choices under 55 on the glycemic index we will greatly ameliorate the health and beauty destroying effects of the
carbs on the upper end of the scale. Fruits and vegetables that score under 55
(on a scale of 0-100) on the index are the best way to satisfy your craving for sweet food.
The fiber in the fresh fruit
helps slow down the absorption of the sugars. These foods also contain anti-oxidants—which
act as natural anti-inflammatories—as well as all kinds of amazing ”phytoceutical” compounds that provide
protective, healing therapy to the skin and entire body.
Eat some protein at the start
of any meal, and try to avoid eating fruit on an empty stomach, to prevent any rapid rise in blood sugar. Remember this simple fact. A rapid rise in our blood sugar
from eating sweets and the wrong types of carbs is pro-inflammatory and results
in a sharp rise in our insulin levels, after which the insulin drops to below normal levels.
This results in the cravings of more carbohydrates, creating a vicious cycle.
In addition to disease prevention and skin rejuvenation, you will quickly discover that you are eating less food because
low glycemic carbs eliminate food cravings. This can result in the loss of excess weight—an added benefit.
When you want to reward yourself
with a sweet treat other than fruit, try a little ice cream. The fat in the ice
cream will slow down the absorption of the sugar. Just remember to have it after
your meal and not on an empty stomach.
Vitamin C ester restores a youthful look
As a dermatologist, I always like to have topical interventions to help keep
the skin looking radiant and healthy. The effects of a high-glycemic diet and
sun damage can rapidly destroy the skin. Along with the right diet and nutritional
supplements, topical anti-oxidants can also help.
Vitamin C Ester, the fat soluble, non-irritating from of vitamin C is just
such a candidate. Topical vitamin C ester can help increase the appearance of
firmness, radiance, refinement of texture, evening out of skin tone and color, decrease in the appearance of pore size, resulting
in a porcelain-like look to the skin.
Rescue remedies: My top anti-glycation
There are two
important nutritional supplements that can help prevent and reverse the negative effects of glycation:
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
Lipoic Acid (ALA) has long been one of my favorite nutritional supplements. Known
as the “universal” antioxidant because of its ability to reach all portions of the cell, ALA is also a super star
glycation fighter. ALA
actually helps curtail glycation and enhances the transfer of blood sugar into the cells
by stimulating glucose uptake. ALA reduces the potential for glycation
and blunts its effects in several ways:
1) ALA increases the cells’ uptake of glucose, thus reducing the amount of free glucose available for damaging glycation
2) ALA reduces the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
3) ALA mops up many of the free radicals generated by AGEs, and prevents them from activating pro-inflammatory nuclear
transcription factors (NF-kappaB)
4) The human brain uses the glyoxalase system to eliminate glycation products called dicarbonyls, which produce much of
the damage associated with Alzheimer’s. However, this system needs the tripeptide glutathione to work, and availability
of this critical anti-oxidant enzyme is limited by overall levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. Supplementation with
ALA—which recycles depleted glutathione—indirectly strengthens the brain’s anti-glycation defense system.
is one of the most exciting new nutritional defenses against the
effects of skin and body destroying glycation. This fat-soluble, highly absorbable
form of vitamin B-1 is one of the most effective anti-glycating nutrients available because it blocks three of the major biochemical
pathways through which hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) does its pro-inflammatory damage.
In addition to blocking inflammatory
pathways, benfotiamine also enhances the activity of an enzyme called transketolase, which (like alpha lipoic acid) prevents
activation of the pro-inflammatory cellular compound NF-kappa B. It also converts
harmful blood sugar metabolites (glucose breakdown products) into harmless chemicals.
Benfotiamine is also a very
safe supplement. I highly recommend it as a safe and effective method of combating the negative effects of glycation.
These supplements can help decelerate aging
caused by dietary sugars and starches, but there are no magic bullets. This is
why I recommend a three-tiered approach: follow the anti-inflammatory diet, take targeted nutritional supplements, and apply
topical treatments with anti-oxidant properties.