Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and toxic too! Sugar is an enticing and dangerous seductress: obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cavities, and a litany of other health woes are all well-documented sugar-related problems. Sugar is also a skin aging and wrinkling accelerator. It is a cruel paradox: How can something that tastes so good be so bad?
Part of the challenge is the ubiquity of sugar in the diet. Cruise down almost any aisle in a supermarket and you would think you are sailing on the Good Ship Lollypop. Three out of four packaged goods contain sugar. Nevermind the usual suspects like soda, cookies, and candy. Crackers, mustard, peanut butter, and cereal the list goes on and on all are chock-a-block with sugar. Call it sugar, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, sorbitol, or a variety of other names, no matter – You wind up adding calories with little or no nutritional value.
From Sugar Consumption to Toxic Sugar
Combating sugar is not merely a matter of exercising Spartan willpower. Researchers at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine concluded that sugar is an addiction, “literally in the same way as drugs.” As they observe: “In animal studies… given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lavatory settings because the reward is greater; the ‘high’ is more pleasurable.”1
Just as troublesome, while breaking the sugar addiction is a necessary condition for dealing with the effects of sugar on health and skin, it is not a sufficient condition for doing so. The body continues to produce toxic sugar by-products as part of the normal metabolic process, even in the face of restricted sugar intake.
A team of research scientists studying aging at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia discovered that whenever sugar is available in the body’s cells, the presence of an enzyme, fructosamine-3-kinase (FN3K), causes the production of toxic sugar, especially in skin cells. Eating the wrong foods causes the sugar-production process through the FN3K enzyme to go into overdrive, resulting in more toxic sugar being produced.
It goes beyond carbohydrate consumption, which is often singled out as the bad boy of diet regimens. Take the humble sausage – Cooking sausage, or any other sugar-infused protein, turns them into glycated foods. Glycated protein, which is the by-product of cooking protein with sugar, causes three deadly, skin-aging factors: Glycation, which occurs when sugar binds to proteins like collagen and elastin in skin and then collapses to form wrinkles and dryness; Inflammation, which causes redness and aging; and oxidative stress, which accelerates
These three factors can transform baby-smooth skin into a deeply-wrinkled, crepey, sallow, older-than-you-look surface. And it can do so fast.
Think of glycation, inflammation, and oxidative stress as a kind of malware that targets skin, disrupts its health, and has severe, visible impact.
Glycated proteins result from glucose and fructose binding to proteins. As they pass through the FN3K enzyme pathway, FN3K acts to separate proteins from the sugar. In the process, the sugar gets converted to a much more active form, which we call toxic sugar. Toxic sugar is responsible for the formation of advanced glycation end products (A.G.E.s), including collagen and elastin that have been cross-linked. Result: Collagen and elastin lose function and the water that rests between them; this, in turn, causes skin to collapse leading to dryness, sagging, and wrinkling.
The passage of glycated proteins through FN3K also directly causes inflammation in immune cells, which circulate throughout the body, including the skin. The inflammation actually becomes a chronic condition.
Toxic sugar also increases levels of oxidative stress, which, in turn, increases the levels of free radicals, which do extreme damage to skin cells, including causing skin cancer. The body has a very efficient pathway for deactivating free radicals. The pathway uses glutathione, a natural tripeptide, to do so. But in the process, glutathione gets changed to an inactive form that must be reactivated by the cell. This is known as the glutathione recovery pathway. The problem is that the toxic sugar formed as a result of the passage of glycated sugar through the FN3K enzyme inactivates the glutathione recovery pathway, leaving more free radicals available to damage the skin. And damage they do: hyperpigmentation, sun damage, damage to DNA and RNA, and even skin cancer.
Toxic Sugar Detoxification
A toxic sugar detoxification can be done in just two steps:
- Restrict the consumption of sugar, starches, and carbohydrates. Most importantly, avoid glycated foods.
- Block the production of toxic sugar. Supplamine® is a powerful compound which contains both meglumine, an amino sugar which lowers the production of toxic sugar coming from the FN3K enzyme, and arginine, a natural amino acid that neutralizes toxic sugar coming from poor diet. Supplamine intercepts and prevents the production of toxic sugar coming from the basic metabolism and addiction to sugar.
The good news is, what you now know about toxic sugar and skin can age your clients – gracefully and with healthy, beautiful skin.
1. DiNicolantonio, J., & Lucan, S. (2014, December 22). Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive. New York Times.