In recent years, the concept of “anti-glycation” has gradually gained popularity, especially by some beauty lovers. It sounds like some kind of high-tech method to delay aging after the skin care tips such as “anti-oxidation”, “replenishing collagen” and “inhibiting melanin production”. In order to meet this demand, merchants in the market have launched a variety of products that claim to be able to resist glycation, including oral health care products, as well as facial cleansers, lotions, masks and other cosmetics for external use. Some people even interpret the extension of anti-glycation as a “sugar quit” or “carbohydrate” diet in order to pursue a more comprehensive and thorough anti-glycation effect.
So, what exactly is anti-glycation? Can anti-glycation products really delay aging?
Scientific research shows that glycated collagen, one of the advanced glycation end products, is generally observed for the first time at the age of 20, and accumulates at a rate of about 3.7% per year, and the growth rate can reach 30% to 50% at the age of 80. %.
Glycation can induce a variety of chronic diseases
Glycation, commonly referred to as “saccharification”, refers to the non-enzymatic chemical reaction between reducing sugars (such as glucose) and proteins, lipids or nucleic acids.
This concept may seem obscure, but its phenomenon is very common in life. It is the chemical principle of browning color and attractive aroma of food during high-temperature cooking such as toast and steamed buns. This phenomenon was first discovered by French chemist Maillard in 1912. Therefore, this chemical reaction process is also called “Maillard reaction”.
Many people may ask, if this is saccharification, then saccharification is very good, with saccharification, the food is more fragrant and delicious. But as mentioned earlier, saccharification is a non-enzymatic chemical reaction. Special attention should be paid to the condition of “non-enzymatic”. Under normal circumstances, in vivo, under the catalysis of specific enzymes, sugars and proteins can be combined in an orderly manner, and the glycosylation of proteins can be modified to generate more functions necessary for life activities. For the abundant glycoprotein, this belongs to the glycosylation modification with the participation of enzymes, which is a good thing. And what we call “saccharification” does not involve enzymes, which is a bad thing.
The saccharification reaction not only occurs rapidly during high-temperature cooking, but also occurs slowly at body temperature. Glucose, which exists in blood, tissue fluid and cells, undergoes a series of complex chemical reactions with molecules such as proteins, and finally produces a large class of substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
The term “advanced glycation end products” sounds unfamiliar, but it is not unknown, because the first discovery of such substances was glycated hemoglobin in diabetic patients. Studies have shown that advanced glycation end products are one of the pathogenesis of various chronic diseases, such as diabetes and its complications, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
It accumulates widely in tissues, and accumulates more in proteins with longer turnover cycles, such as collagen in bone and skin, and then affects the normal physiological functions of proteins, such as reducing the strength of mechanical support. In addition, it not only directly causes harm due to its own biological characteristics, but also indirectly exerts harmful effects by binding to specific receptors on the cell surface, generating regulatory signals, continuously promoting inflammation or inducing oxidative stress.
In fact, in the human body, advanced glycation end products are generated all the time, and are mainly excreted through the kidneys with the degradation of glycated proteins, maintaining a dynamic balance objectively. When the human body ages or suffers from diabetes, its excretion will slow down or its production will speed up, and then gradually accumulate in the body. Scientific research shows that glycated collagen, one of the advanced glycation end products, is generally observed for the first time at the age of 20, and accumulates at a rate of about 3.7% per year, and the growth rate can reach 30% to 50% at the age of 80. %.
Accumulation of glycation is characteristic of skin aging
Compared with other internal organ tissues, the skin is easier to observe, so people generally pay attention to the relationship between skin problems and glycation. Studies have also confirmed that the content of advanced glycation end products in the skin has been significantly increased, whether it is aging or diabetes. In other words, the accumulation of advanced glycation end products in the skin is the cause of skin aging. a typical feature.
When the accumulation of advanced glycation end products in the skin increases, on the one hand, it can lead to dysfunction of intercellular collagen and elastin, such as decreased toughness and elasticity; on the other hand, it can reduce the proliferation of dermal cells and promote their apoptosis and induce premature aging of keratinocytes, resulting in duller, rougher skin.
However, although the accumulation of advanced glycation end products has been associated with skin aging, the causal relationship has not yet been determined. In fact, factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and diet may all be involved in the relationship between glycation and skin aging through mechanisms such as oxidative stress or inflammation.
Ultraviolet rays in sunlight damage the skin mainly by promoting inflammation, apoptosis, oxidative damage and other mechanisms. Studies have shown that in young people, no significant accumulation of advanced glycation end products was observed when the skin was protected from sun protection, while areas of skin exposed to sunlight showed a significant increase in deposition, suggesting that UV exposure can Promotes the formation of advanced glycation end products in vivo.
Smoking is a typical aggravating factor of skin aging. Smoking accelerates the formation of advanced glycation end products in the skin and increases its deposition in various tissues, including the skin.
Another important factor in aging is diet. The content of advanced glycation end products in food products depends to a large extent on processing methods, such as cooking time and temperature. In general, fried foods contain more advanced glycation end products than boiled or steamed foods. Studies have shown that about 10% to 30% of the advanced glycation end products ingested from food enter the blood circulation after being absorbed by the human body.
Are health products claiming anti-glycation?
From the perspective of the mechanism of anti-glycation, reducing the generation of advanced glycation end products or promoting their degradation, or antagonizing the receptors of advanced glycation end products, are all intervention directions worth exploring. However, whether limited by efficacy or safety, there is currently no specific drug with sufficient clinical research evidence available.
However, in terms of nutrition, we have some anti-glycation ideas that may be effective, mainly achieved indirectly through anti-oxidation or anti-inflammatory.
Some of these ingredients are antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetylcysteine, selenium, flavonoids, blueberry extract, quercetin and rutin; some can maintain normal skin Metabolism, such as niacinamide, pyridoxal, zinc, and manganese; some spices and herbs containing phenols have also been shown to inhibit the glycosylation of albumin in vitro, including ginger, cinnamon, clove, marjoram , Rosemary And Tarragon.
Most of the above-mentioned nutrients or functional ingredients are still in the stage of in vitro experiments or animal experiments, but their safety is relatively guaranteed. Therefore, some merchants “creatively” arrange and combine various formula products based on the anti-glycation effect.
For example, a certain brand of anti-sugar capsules, the main ingredients are alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, cinnamon, copper, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, biotin and so on. Merchants claim that alpha-lipoic acid and cinnamon can accelerate glucose metabolism, thereby reducing sugar binding to collagen; vitamin C and copper can promote collagen synthesis; zinc, vitamin A and biotin can help antioxidants.
At first glance, this is a combination of anti-glycation efforts from many aspects, but it is not difficult to find that this is equivalent to encouraging people to eat some of each food, and not to be partial to picky eaters? At most, add one additional multivitamin trace element tablet daily. This situation is similar to not eating milk, eggs, and tofu, but is keen to choose “tall” protein powder.
Therefore, the actual effect of such products is not only difficult to clarify the anti-aging effect due to the lack of sufficient clinical research evidence at present, but also difficult to fully convince people that it is “achieving anti-aging through anti-glycation” due to the confounding of various interfering factors. .
As for whether it is worth buying such products at high prices, it can only be determined by people and their own spending power.
“Low-carb” and “cut-carb” are not advisable
So, is there a relatively feasible anti-glycation method that costs less money? We can analyze and analyze.
First of all, it is necessary to understand that the so-called “sugar quitting” refers to quitting free sugars, such as white sugar, glucose, fructose, etc. Minimize added sugars in your diet, that is, eat less sweets or drink less sugar-sweetened beverages. According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents (2016)”, the daily intake of added sugar should be limited to no more than 50 grams per day, preferably within 25 grams.
In order to reduce glucose in the body, some people adopt a low-carb diet, or even cut off a carbohydrate diet, which has great health risks. More than half of the body’s daily energy needs are provided by carbohydrates. And relative to protein and fat, carbohydrate metabolism produces less waste and puts a lighter metabolic burden on the liver and kidneys. If there are almost no carbohydrates in the food, then the skin cells will not only face the lack of energy and cause the collagen renewal to slow down, but also be more prone to apoptosis due to the excess of harmful metabolites such as ketone bodies and ammonia in the body. Maybe after a toss, the skin is even worse.
We recommend choosing more appropriate carbohydrates, replacing refined grain staples such as rice and flour with staple foods such as whole grains, whole grains or potatoes, and reducing the production of advanced glycation end products by stabilizing blood sugar fluctuations.
Secondly, try to use healthy cooking or food processing methods, avoid high-temperature frying and frying, and choose steaming and stewing. In this way, it can not only reduce the advanced glycation end products in food, but also reduce some harmful substances produced by high temperature, which helps to delay aging and protect health from the inside out.
In addition, you should also adopt some well-known healthy lifestyle habits, such as sun protection, avoiding smoking or secondhand smoke, maintaining adequate sleep and a healthy weight, etc., which are beneficial to reduce the level of advanced glycation end products in the body.
Although we all wish that aging would come more slowly, scientifically speaking, aging is a natural process, and at least there is no magic cure for it. Moreover, excessive worry and anxiety about this may actually accelerate aging. Therefore, it is necessary to correctly understand aging and coexist with aging from the root.