Why Sugar (Not the Sun) May Be Your Skin's Worst Enemy

We all know that excessive exposure to sunshine and UV rays causes premature skin aging, but what about overexposure to sugar? Did you know that excess sugar causes just as much damage, if not more?

Sugar triggers a process called glycation during digestion. It happens when sugar quickly transforms into blood glucose for energy - attaches to proteins, forming harmful molecules called Advanced Glycation End products, also rather tellingly known as AGEs. The more sugar we eat, the more AGEs develop.

Proteins, Glycation and AGEs

Proteins and amino acids serve critical functions in our bodies such as cell repair, transport and storage of nutrients and supporting organ health. However they need to be free agents to do their jobs, and when sugar attaches to a protein, this causes the protein to become sticky and bind to other proteins. This in turn affects the functioning of protein in the body.

The proteins that sugar is most attracted to are collagen and elastin - the two protein fibers that keep skin looking firm and elastic, so it bounces back rather than sags.

AGEs not only makes collagen more fragile and less able to keep skin looking good; they also damage the body’s ability to generate antioxidants, leaving skin more vulnerable to further damage. This results in a structural weakness in the skin that leads to wrinkles and fine lines.

Glycation Level and Sugar

Some glycation is normal, of course, but given the amounts of sugar we eat these days - according to Forbes magazine, Americans eat on average 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, almost two and a half times the 9.5 teaspoons per day recommended by the American Heart Association - we are speeding up this aging process without even realizing it!

Refined white sugar and the equally problematic corn syrup are both high in fructose, they are the biggest culprits because they are processed quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike, resulting in high levels of AGEs.

How to Reduce AGEs

Luckily, foods that are broken down slower by the body such as whole grains and fiber-rich fruits lead to lower blood sugar levels and fewer AGEs.

There is also a compound known as carnosine - a protein building block that is naturally produced in the body - that can neutralize AGEs, acting much in the same way an antioxidant fights a free radical. Essentially, it may slow the aging process, which is why we include L-Carnosine it in our Total Balance Range.

So keep in mind that we can slow the glycation process and care for skin health by watching what we put into our body first.

How much sugar are you and your family eating each day? Have a close look into your pantry and fridge – let’s face off against this sweet enemy together.

In good health.



  1. http://www.prevention.com/beauty/beauty/how-sugar-ages-your-skin
  2. http://www.aminoacid-studies.com/amino-acids/what-are-amino-acids.html
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18996880
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/08/30/how-much-sugar-are-americans-eating-infographic/
  5. http://www.xtend-life.com/popup/info/Glycation.aspx

4 Responses

Thank u  for   the  info. On  sugar    and  artificial  sweeteners.

Xtend-Life Expert February 23 2015

Great information!  Thanks1

M. King February 09 2015

Is Stevia as harmful as the other artificial sweeteners?  Also,  how would I calculate the equivalent of 9.5 teaspoons of granulated sugar in other foods, such as juices, fruits, candy, etc..?

Jeannette Adams February 20 2015

Hi  Jeannette,

Stevia is different to artificial sweeteners in that it is natural, Stevia is a plant. Artificial sweeteners on the other hand are synthetic and just that artificial. This amazing plant is something like 200 times sweeter than sugar without the calories. Research also shows it may have other associated health benefits in balancing blood sugar levels and blood pressure amongst others. There will be a blog coming soon regarding the use of Stevia in our Zupafoods range so do stay tuned for further information!

With regards to the second part of your question. 1 teaspoon of sugar is approximately equivalent to 4 grams of sugar. This means that 9.5 teaspoons gives approximately 38 grams of sugar (9.5 teaspoons x 4 grams). Keep in mind that you want to be taking in no more than 5 teaspoons of sugar per day (thats 20 grams). Pay attention to the nutrition panel when buying pre-packaged foods as a guide. It is best to go for foods that contain less than 10g of sugar per 100g.

I hope this was helpful. Do let us know if there is anything else we can do to help.



Customer Relations February 25 2015

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