WHITE DEATH. The Glycation Epidemic.

It’s no secret – we are addicted to SUGAR!

Consumption of ‘white  death’ rises every year – in 2010, we were consuming over 90kg EACH, per year!! (1700s 1.8kg; 1800s 10.2kg; 1900s 40.8kg). With this ‘sweet’ culture it’s little wonder we are seeing a rise in disease and an acceleration of the aging process.

Glycation occurs when a sugar molecule binds or cross links with a protein or lipid molecule, without the controlling action of an enzyme (and interestingly, there is no enzyme that is able to un-do this process).

Glycation was first observed and understood in connection with diabetes. High sugar content in the blood, with an overwhelmed metabolism, leads to glycation in the tissue, which can lead to dramatic consequences such as blindness, renal failure, heart disease, fragile blood vessels + aging.

Specifically relating to the skin, Glycation occurs when surplus sugar molecules adhere to the cell wall – causing cell malfunction, decreased nutrient uptake and decreased waste removal. Although a little sugar provides energy for the cell, our modern diets dictate high levels of sugar, which cannot be adequately metabolised.

When these unused sugar molecules come in contact with a protein, specifically collagen, two reactions take place – Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) + Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). Both by-products lead to inflammation, cross-linking of collagen + inhibition of cell growth – you guessed it, accelerated damage + aging.

The formation of AGEs also lead to an impaired skin barrier + paves the way for trans epidermal water loss + inability to defend against bacteria. The mitochondria of the cell has decreased energy and therefore decreased ability to perform essential daily tasks.

Glycated collagen is rigid, without mobility + can resemble scar tissue – not favorable qualities for a ‘youthful’ looking skin.


You guessed it – CUT OUT THE SUGAR. I wish there were an ‘easier’ way, but in the case of glycation, there is no quick fix once the damage is done. As we age, and metabolism slows down, it becomes even more important NOT to over-energise the system with unnecessary sugars. The term ‘ancient body modern world’ couldn’t be closer to the truth. Our bodies struggle in support of our lifestyles. Certainly increasing physical work and exercise will increase the amount of sugar being use for ‘energy’ and reduce excess sugars from attacking our cells and causing inflammation in our body.

There are a number of clinical trials that have identified taking an IC5 supplement will increase insulin sensitivity to control excess sugar consumption.

In terms of skincare, there are ingredients being developed that claim to inhibit the glycation of collagen, but these are preventative measures.

In addition, an ‘anti-glycation’ serum will contain:

  Potent antioxidants
  Free radical scavengers
  Hydration factors
  Anti-inflammatory qualities

Whilst these ingredients will not stop glycation, they will minimise the impact of ROS + inflammation whilst maintaining a healthy skin barrier.

Time to reach for a glass of water?

Sugar dominates the modern diet – but at what point does this addictive substance affect both our health + our skin??

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