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Too Much Sugar May Cause Wrinkles

Posted: November 13, 2007

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Avoid high fructose corn syrup. This type of sweetener, which is made by changing the sugar in cornstarch to fructose (another form of sugar), is believed to produce more AGEs than other types. Because HFCS extends the shelf life of foods and is sweeter and cheaper than other sugars, it's a popular ingredient in soda, fruit-flavored drinks, and packaged foods such as breads, crackers, and other snacks. You can spot it in ingredient lists on nutrition labels.

2. Supplement your diet with at least 1 mg of vitamins B1 and B6 a day. These vitamins proved to be potent AGE inhibitors in a number of published studies, says David J. Goldberg, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist and a clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. B1 and B6 are plentiful in food, but taking a multivitamin—most of which deliver at least 1 mg of both Bs—ensures you're getting the daily value of 1.1 mg for B1 and 1.3 mg for B6 (1.5 mg after age 50).

3. Wear broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen every day. Significantly more AGEs occur in sun-exposed skin than in protected skin, according to the British Journal of Dermatology study.

4. Employ an inside-outside approach to antioxidants. These free-radical fighters help keep sugar from attaching to proteins, so replenishing their supply—both by eating more antioxidant-rich fruits, nuts, and vegetables, such as cranberries, walnuts, and red bell peppers, and by applying topical antioxidants such as green tea and vitamins C and E—is a real skin saver. "It seems to be the best way to ensure that they reach the dermal layer of skin, where collagen and elastin are located," says Goldberg.

5. Use new ingredients that protect skin from sugar. A growing number of products contain compounds like aminoguanidine and alistin, which have been shown to block the formation of AGEs. "Aminoguanidine attaches to molecules that start the glycation process and prevents them from binding to collagen and elastin," explains Grossman. "Alistin acts as a decoy, so it gets damaged instead of the proteins in your skin." In a study on Prescriptives Anti-AGE Advanced Protection Lotion SPF 25, which contains both ingredients, skin treated with the product had 21% fewer AGEs after 8 weeks than untreated skin. Sweet!