Food and Aging
Anna Tendler, who is not only a makeup blogger but a total peach of a human, recently posted about her skin care routine, and mentioned that she eats lots of vegetables and drinks plenty of water. Well, Anna, I am happy to tell you that there is a lot of exciting biochem behind that skin advice.
What does diet have to do with skin?
There are these molecules called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGE). They’re basically a fat or protein molecule that’s had a piece of sugar stuck to it. Anyway, they are super destructive and can wreck the natural order of long chains of proteins. You are made of long chains of proteins, so this has implications for pretty much every disease, from Diabetes to Atherosclerosis to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. In terms of skin care, however, a molecule that is capable of reacting with long protein chains would not be great for maintaining the collagen fibers that keep skin wrinkle-free.
But what about AGEs and clear skin?
Additionally, these AGEs fit into RAGE receptors on your cells (did not make these up), and cause cells to release a bunch of inflammatory products. Inflammation involves the release of chemicals that can destroy your cells and cause swelling. Like the interference with protein chains, chronic inflammation is also implicated in pretty much every disease you can think of, including acne.
So where are these AGEs coming from?
Some your body just makes, but you can also eat them. If you cook meat or fat with sugar in the absence of water (think browning meat) you’ll make loads of AGEs that won’t be incredibly forgiving once they’re in your body.
- Eat lots of whole unprocessed foods.
- If you’re cooking meat, try to do it without sugars, or at least get lots of water into the cooking process. (as an ardent shake-shack fan, this one bums me out)
- Steam your veggies instead of cooking in oil when you can
- maybe throw some raw veggies in there, too.
For hard-core orgo nerds: here is a great study that I pulled a lot of info from. It describes the mechanism behind AGE interactions with proteins in much more detail!