What ages skin and have you heard of AGEs?
The skin is the largest organ of the human body and also the boundary between the body and the environment. As such, the skin is subject not only to the internal aging process, but also to various external stressors, which affect not only its youthful appearance, but also its various physiological functions. Adult skin shows impaired permeability, impaired wound healing, atrophy, vulnerability to external stimuli and the development of several benign and malignant diseases.
In recent years, the role of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) is increasingly discussed in skin aging, because their formation in the body is a prerequisite for skin aging.
What are Advanced Glycation Residues (AGEs)?
AGEs are compounds formed in the body when fats and proteins combine with sugar. When they accumulate at high levels, they increase the risk of many diseases as well as premature skin aging.
Why does this lead to premature aging?
As we have already said, glycation is a reaction between the combination of sugars such as glucose with proteins, lipids or nucleic acids. And collagen is one of the strongest proteins. In the skin, it is not only used as a support frame for mechanical support for cells and tissues, but is an active ingredient that can interact with cells and affect various cellular functions. Collagen glycation impairs its function in various ways. The structure of collagen fibers changes its biomechanical properties, leading to stiffness and reduced flexibility. In other words, it reduces the elasticity of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin.
The appearance of glycated collagen is observed for the first time at the age of 20 and accumulates at an annual rate of about 3.7%, reaching a 30-50% increase at the age of 80.
AGEs can be ingested externally (through food consumption) or produced internally.
Environmental factors, junk food, alkohol and smoking affect the rate of formation of AGEs. It has been shown that UV radiation can also accelerate the formation of AGEs.
Smoking, a typical aggravating factor for skin aging, accelerates the formation of AGEs and increases their deposition through various tissues, including the skin.
Another important environmental factor for aging is food. Approximately 10–30% of ingested AGEs are absorbed into the bloodstream. That is why food has the greatest contribution to the formation of AGEs.
The content of AGEs in food strongly depends on the method of preparation, such as cooking time and temperature. Fried foods generally contain much higher amounts of AGEs than cooked or steamed foods. In fact, dry heat can increase the amount of AGEs by 10-100 times the levels of raw foods.
This includes barbecue, grilling, baking, frying, sautéing and toasting.
These cooking methods can make food tastier, but they can increase the intake of AGEs to potentially harmful levels.
Some foods, such as animals high in fat and protein, are more susceptible to the formation of AGEs during cooking.
Foods with the highest AGEs include meat (especially red meat), some cheeses, fried eggs, butter, cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, oils and nuts.
That way, even if your diet seems relatively healthy, you can consume an unhealthy amount of harmful AGEs just because of the way you prepare your food.
How to reduce the formation of AGEs?
Fortunately, your body has mechanisms to eliminate these harmful compounds. However, when you consume too much AGE or too much is formed spontaneously, your body cannot cope with their elimination. In this way, they accumulate.
1. Try to eliminate or limit these foods and choose fresh, whole grain foods that have lower levels of AGEs instead. For example, foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains have lower levels even after cooking.
2. Eat foods full of antioxidant-rich foods. In laboratory studies, natural antioxidants such as vitamin C and quercetin have been shown to inhibit the formation of AGEs.
3. Animal studies show that some natural plant phenols can reduce the negative health effects of AGEs. One of them is the compound curcumin, which is contained in turmeric. Resveratrol, which can be found in the skins of dark fruits such as grapes, blueberries and raspberries, can also help reduce the levels of AGEs.
Therefore, a diet full of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices can help prevent the harmful effects of AGEs.
4. Get moving! In addition to diet, an inactive lifestyle can lead to a rise in the levels of AGEs. In contrast, regular exercise and an active lifestyle have been shown to reduce the amount of AGEs in the body.