As we have already mentioned, visible aging, be it wrinkles on the face, creaking joints, thinning hair or a host of other signs is really the result of cellular aging. In other words changes to the cells of our body over time. And this is the case with glycosylation.
Glycosylation stems from having too much glucose in the body. We get glucose into the body from the foods we eat. As part of the metabolic process, foods get broken down into things that the body needs. In the case of glucose, our body’s need it for energy. It is the energy source that drives our cells and keeps us going but like most things, too much of it is not good for us.
Glucose comes from sugar that we get from sugary foods like soft drinks, cakes, biscuits, white bread and sugar itself. These are often referred to as refined carbohydrates. We also get glucose from more complex carbohydrates too. Complex carbohydrates are things like oats and any food made from whole grains. Fruits like apricots are also considered to be a complex carb.
When glucose gets into the bloodstream, insulin is secreted by the Pancreas to effectively distribute the glucose to the cells that need it. When insulin functions properly, the blood sugar level is lowered to a healthy level.
However, many people develop a condition called insulin resistance as a consequence of having too much sugar in their diet, being overweight, being stressed and many other factors that are prevalent in a modern lifestyle.
This causes the cells in the body to be less responsive to the secretion of insulin, meaning they don’t get the energy they need and the blood sugar level doesn’t get reduced.
Excess glucose in the blood stream or other parts of the body will tend to attract or combine with molecular proteins in these parts of the body. This effectively drags the proteins away from important functions they may have been doing. This is called glycosylation.
The combination of glucose with these proteins forms a sticky substance which can wreak havoc on the cells, organs and body of the individual.
In terms of the skin, think of it like putting a glaze on a piece of salmon or a chicken and then cooking it under a grill or roasting it. The surface skin changes color and dries out. This leaves it crispy and wrinkly. Nice to eat and giving the food a bit of texture but not nice to look at, especially if it was the skin of your face.
How It AGEs You
This sticky substance is referred to as Advanced Glycosylated End products (AGEs) and it not only affects the skin. Indeed, it is the source of many conditions and diseases that we naturally associate with aging.
Things like atherosclerosis in the blood vessels and blood pressure are exacerbated by AGEs.
Collagen in the skin and connective tissues (joints if you like) are affected by glycosylation. This makes the skin lose it’s plumpness and elasticity. In the joints, it leads to osteoarthritis.
AGEs are also thought to damage the nerve cells and the eyes. In the case of the nerves, they do not function properly, causing problems like a loss of sensation in the extremities of the body. In the case of the eyes, the lens become cloudy and vision is impaired.
So What Can You Do About Glycosylation ?
Well, you’ve probably heard it before, but you need to cut down on the sugary diet. Cut out as much refined carbohydrates as you can. They serve very little nutritional value to your body. Also, do things that are likely to reduce the chances of insulin resistance developing. Things like staying within the body weight for your height. Keeping a trim waistline. Getting regular exercise. Limiting daily stress.
But if you only do one thing, cut out as much sugar as you can in your diet. This is the root cause of glycosylation.