How? When you eat the sweet stuff, sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules in a process called glycation. These new molecules are called advanced glycation end products or, appropriately, AGEs for short – am I the only one that finds that acronym highly ironic? The more soda, candy, and deep-fried twinkies you eat, the more AGEs you develop.
Dermatologist Fredric Brandt says, "As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion." Collagen and elastin are the protein fibers in your skin that make it firm, springy and elastic. Once they're damaged, they become dry and brittle, which leads to wrinkles and the ever-so-wonderful sagging.
Another thing about AGES is that they deactivate your skin's ability to produce antioxidant enzymes, which leaves your skin more vulnerable to sun damage (another cause of wrinkles).
It's never too late to work on reversing the effects. To find out how
- Keep added sugar to no more than 10% of your daily calories.
- Ditch soda and drink water instead. Not only are the hydrating effects of water good for your skin, but one 12 oz. can of soda contains about 40g of sugar. That's just about as much as a person should consume in a day.
- Read labels meticulously. Processed foods can tend to have tons of hidden sugars under names like barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose and maltose.
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup. This type of sugar is believed to produce more AGEs.
- Make sure to get your B vitamins, at least 1 mg a day each of B1 and B6.
- Don't forget your vitamin C either, since it may help fight wrinkles.
- If you're still smoking, here's another reason to quit. Smoking can cause wrinkles on your face and it also affects the skin all over your body.
- You can also try out anti-aging serums and creams, but they aren't guaranteed to work. Depending on your skin type, they may diminish lines for a brief time, or they may not work at all.