ingredient science vegan skincare

The Skin-Ageing Protein: Advanced Glycation End-Products

AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) are proteins or lipids that have gone through the process of glycation (where a sugar molecule like glucose or fructose binds to a protein or lipid molecule), and will affect the majority of the cell types across the human body.

AGEs have been researched extensively (especially so in recent years) in relation to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, with links to skin ageing, with higher levels present in aged skin.

Where are AGEs found?

In food, you can expect to see high levels within animal-products (naturally high in protein and fat). Discussed in the 2012 Dermato Endocrinology, “Advanced Glycation End Products: Key Players in Skin Ageing?”, “The content of AGEs in food is highly dependent on the method of preparation, like cooking time and temperature. Fried food contains in general far higher amounts of AGEs than boiled or steamed food. Approximately 10–30% of ingested AGEs are absorbed in the circulation.”

AGEs will naturally accumulate throughout the ageing process, causing skin quality and resilience to change with time. Discussed in the 2017 Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry “The role of glycation in the pathogenesis of aging and its prevention through herbal products and physical exercise”:

“Glycation of extracellular proteins induces the cross-linking of collagen and elastic fibers. As a consequence, elasticity of the ECM is altered, affecting especially vascular functions. Furthermore, cross-linking between AGEs and collagen impairs the mechanical properties of collagen. In particular, the cross-linking of AGEs with collagen of the vascular wall alters its structure and function.”

Will A Low-Sugar Diet Slow Skin Ageing?

Sugar regularly takes the lion’s share of the blame for increased AGEs, while across studies it is noted that high-fat and high-protein items are those plentiful in AGEs, with the cooking process also essential to the presence and production of AGEs.

In the 2010 article “The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences”, “Does Accumulation of Advanced Glycation End Products Contribute to the Aging Phenotype?”, it’s noted that “Exposure to AGEs can be reduced by restriction of dietary intake of AGEs… modification of intake and circulating levels of AGEs may be a possible strategy to promote health in old age, especially because most Western foods are processed at high temperature and are rich in AGEs.”

“Foods that are either eaten raw or cooked at lower temperatures are relatively low in AGEs, and such foods include raw fruits and vegetables, raw fish, raw nuts, yoghurt, tofu, pasta, boiled rice, boiled potatoes, and other boiled or simmered foods.”

While sugar should not be avoided unnecessarily, to protect your skin from prematurely producing more AGEs it is worthwhile considering cutting down on foods like processed white bread, ice-cream and sweetened condiments. A whole-food, vegan diet incorporating higher amounts of raw vegetables will discourage dietary AGE intake, and should be combined with sensible lifestyle habits free of smoking and other skin-ageing factors.

Do you consider your diet in relation to your skin care? Let us know in the comments!

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