The relationship between food and skin is inseparable. Some attribute the smooth and white skin of elderly Japanese to their dietary habits. Research has shown that Japanese people generally have better skin than Chinese or Thai people, which is influenced by genetics and environmental factors. However, the Japanese cooking methods, such as steaming, stewing, and boiling, can also reduce the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which slow down skin aging.
The human body forms AGEs when sugar and protein combine, and food also contains AGEs. When absorbed by the body, these AGEs can cause protein cross-linking, inflammation, and increased oxidative stress, which can be just as destructive as the AGEs formed internally. Certain cooking methods, such as grilling, roasting, frying, and sautéing, can increase the formation of AGEs in food.
For example, crispy rice cereal has 220 times more AGEs than rice, and french fries have 87 times more AGEs than boiled potatoes. In contrast, Japanese cooking methods result in lower levels of AGEs in the food they consume, which may explain why their skin tends to age slower.
While there are no known foods that can reduce the AGEs already formed in the body, some foods can help reduce the formation of AGEs, such as cinnamon, cloves, oregano, and garlic. It is also important to avoid consuming high-AGE foods, particularly after skin treatments, as they can reduce the effectiveness of skincare.
Overall, maintaining healthy skin requires not only proper sun protection but also attention to diet, particularly reducing the intake of high-sugar and high-AGE foods.