Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACPJune 2004
|LE Magazine June 2004|
|Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACP|
Q: I have read a great deal about glycation and the damage it causes inside the body. Can you explain what effect, if any, glycation can have on my skin?
When glycation occurs in the skin, the sugar molecules attach themselves to 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 skin to lose its elasticity. Healthy collagen strands normally slide over one another, which keeps skin elastic. When young people smile or frown, creating lines in the face, the skin will snap back and be smooth again when they stop smiling or frowning. For a person whose collagen has been cross-linked from years of eating carbohydrates and sugars with high glycemic indices, the skin does not snap back and smooth out. Those deep grooves remain, because the sugar molecules have attached to collagen, making the fibers stiff and inflexible.
The bond between the sugar and collagen generates large numbers of free radicals, leading to 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.
Limit carbohydrates from grains to include only whole grains, non-instant oatmeal, and legumes like lentils and beans. These foods are absorbed slowly and will not provoke an inflammatory reaction from a surge in blood sugar levels. Keeping skin youthful and supple requires a slow, steady release of insulin into the bloodstream.
Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACN, a board-certified clinical and research dermatologist, is Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. He is author of the best-selling books The Perricone Prescription: A Physician’s 28-Day Program for Total Body and Face Rejuvenation, The Wrinkle Cure, and The Acne Prescription.