How glycation leads to skin ageing and whole body health deterioration and what you can do about it

Glycation: the silent assassin of youth

Glycation refers to the damage of proteins, lipids and DNA/RNA by sugars and by high temperature cooking.

Increased consumption of sugars, especially fructose, sucrose/sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, as well as high temperature cooking, leads to the creation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

AGEs cause widespread damage to all tissues of the body, from blood vessels to skin to organs, by increasing inflammation, oxidative damage and collagen cross linking.

Skin is particularly prone to glycation damage, with loss of elasticity and firmness and an unhealthy grey complexion usually indicating damage by AGEs. Glycation is also an important cause of cellulite.

According to the authors of this review, "elevated circulating AGEs are associated with increased risk of developing many chronic diseases that disproportionally affect older individuals".


Fighting glycation on all fronts

Following a diet high in vegetables, herbs and spices (with the exception of chilli), avoiding high temperature grilling and frying and avoiding sugary foods, are the best things you can do to avoid glycation damage on your skin, blood vessels and other tissues.

Chlorogenic acid (found in green coffee), carnosine (found in meat) and quercetin (found in citrus fruits) are the most well-known natural compounds that can fight glycation.

All three natural chemicals can also be used topically in the form of anti-ageing / anti-cellulite creams.

Drugs that aim to inhibit or break AGEs are also being developed. Existing drugs known to fight glycation include aminoguanidine (pimagedine) and alagebrium chloride (ALT-711), with neither of them being commercially available.



  • Paper: Does accumulation of advanced glycation end products contribute to the aging phenotype?
  • Abstract: BACKGROUND: Aging is a complex multifactorial process characterized by accumulation of deleterious changes in cells and tissues, progressive deterioration of structural integrity and physiological function across multiple organ systems, and increased risk of death. METHODS: We conducted a review of the scientific literature on the relationship of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) with aging. AGEs are a heterogeneous group of bioactive molecules that are formed by the nonenzymatic glycation of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. RESULTS: Humans are exposed to AGEs produced in the body, especially in individuals with abnormal glucose metabolism, and AGEs ingested in foods. AGEs cause widespread damage to tissues through upregulation of inflammation and cross-linking of collagen and other proteins. AGEs have been shown to adversely affect virtually all cells, tissues, and organ systems. Recent epidemiological studies demonstrate that elevated circulating AGEs are associated with increased risk of developing many chronic diseases that disproportionally affect older individuals. CONCLUSIONS: Based on these data, we propose that accumulation of AGEs accelerate the multisystem functional decline that occurs with aging, and therefore contribute to the aging phenotype. Exposure to AGEs can be reduced by restriction of dietary intake of AGEs and drug treatment with AGE inhibitors and AGE breakers. Modification of intake and circulating levels of AGEs may be a possible strategy to promote health in old age, especially because most Western foods are processed at high temperature and are rich in AGEs.

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