Why Fast Food is Bad for Skin: Glycation

If you have ever wondered why fast food is constantly cited as a cause of skin problems, the answer lies in a biological process called glycation. Glycation, which can happen both inside (endogenous glycation) and outside (exogenous glycation) of the body, is a major cause of the visible signs of aging. In both cases, glycation occurs when a simple sugar molecule (e.g. fructose or glucose) bonds to a protein or fat molecule without an enzyme.

A bond in the presence of an enzyme, called glycosylation, occurs at the correct site on the molecule. Glycation, on the other hand, is haphazard; the bond could form anywhere, creating an advanced glycated endproduct (AGE). Because the bond does not occur in the proper place, glycation impairs the functioning of molecules.

Read on to learn about the specifics of both types of glycation and how to prevent them from disrupting skin’s youthful appearance.

Endogenous Glycation

Endogenous glycations occur to absorbed simple sugars (i.e. glucose, fructose, and galactose) in the bloodstream. Fructose, a sugar found in many foods, has 10 times the glycation activity of glucose, the sugar that the body produces. Glycation is the first of a complex series of reactions in the body that finalize in the creation of advanced glycation endproducts, better known as AGEs.

AGEs cause a range of different diseases because glycation interferes with cells and molecules all throughout the body, not just in one specific place. Even more distressing is the fact that the body is unable to easily eliminate glycated substances from the body despite their damaging properties.

Consequently, cells that remain in the body for a long time can accumulate significant amounts of damage over time.

These cells include:

  • Nerves
  • Brain cells
  • Eye crystalline
  • Collagen
  • DNA

Some AGEs are more irritable than the sugars from which they are derived, and therefore contribute to a number of age-related chronic disease.

Some of these diseases are:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Deafness

AGEs also cause high levels of inflammation, which greatly contributes to aging.

Exogenous Glycation

Exogenous glycation, which occurs outside of the body, also creates AGEs. Exogenous glycation happens when the sugars in food react with fats or proteins while exposed to high temperatures, such as those incurred during the cooking process of fast food. It is the reaction responsible for the browning of foods. For example, french fries contain high levels of a suspected carcinogen. Even worse, fast food companies often add sugar or AGEs to foods to enhance both color and flavor.

Some glaring examples of this are:

  • Baked goods
  • Dark colas
  • Fried food

To prevent the cycle of glycation, AGE creation, and inflammation, avoid consuming these foods and other fast foods and simple sugars.

In addition, studies show that some nutrients inhibit the occurance of both types of glycation. For example, the universal antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid fights glycation because it facilitates enzyme action. Try using a supplement that contains high levels of the beneficial antioxidant, like Perricone MD’s Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplement.

It works to:

  • Diminish fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration
  • Refine skin texture and evens skin tone
  • Reduce pore size, puffiness and imperfections

Take 2 capsules daily for maximum glycation-fighting benefit.

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43 Comments • Please comment below


  1. [...] Perricone MD, If you have ever wondered why fast food is constantly cited as a cause of skin problems, the [...]

  2. biological process called glycation is how the body responds to eating fast food, leading to problem skin

  3. Please sign me up!

  4. I’d like to become a perricone tester. I avoid greasy fast food. The salt and grease are attractive and taste good, but they go straight to my skin and sometimes upset my stomach along the way.

  5. well i truly enjoy fast food and keep a slim fugure it doesnt necessarly does harm to your face unless you don”t take care like washing every night then all the oils add up!

  6. My grandmother often warned us not to indulge in fast foods and she was correct. As a teacher, mother of four children, and grandmother of one sweet little boy I strive to eat healthier and exercise daily. My mother and grandmother also stressed the importance of daily skin care and my sisters and I all have been faithful to take care of our skin. Although I am 48 most of my students and parents of students have difficulty believing that I am a day over 35 . I would love to become a tester way up here In Northern Maine :)

  7. Fast food is horrible! All of that sodium sucks all your water from your skin, leaving it dry & flakey. I always break out when I eat FF. Feel tired. Tummy Hurts. It’s just BAD for you!

  8. I would love to become a Perricone product tester. I am getting to the age where I need to make more of an effort to minimize age-related skin problems. Money is tight however and I would really enjoy sampling the products before purchasing.

    Thank you.

  9. I accidentally pressed the submit button prematurely. I wanted to add that I just turned 29 this Valentine’s Day and I really want to find products that helps with fine lines, dull skin, discoloration, and firmness. I’ve tried so many different things and am tired of wasting so much money on products I end up giving away to friends. Please, make me a tester. I’ve heard such great things about your products.

  10. Man, this makes me even more convinced than I already was that I really need to watch what I put into my body. Lately, I’ve been eating a lot more fast food because we’ve been traveling a lot lately, my family and I, and I can completely tell in my skin and mood. I’ve been breaking out, which never usually happens on a healthy diet, and the brightness in my skin has gotten really dull over this past month. Organic, healthy foods, here I come.

  11. Would love to be a Perricone tester!

  12. After having a child, I find that my skin has changed. It is much dryer and sensitive to foods and beauty products. I would love the opportunity to test different Perricone products to find the best products that work for my skin.

    Thanks for the consideration.

  13. i live in the country so very few fast food joints about but when i do have some fast food i defo noice it the next day, my pours get all clogged and i get spots. you realise it more when you don’t eat fast food that often

  14. I don’t eat as much fast foot as I use to, I think it made a difference in the blemishes I got.

  15. I would love to test out new products!

  16. Beauty wise I am a try anything kind of girl. I have purchased and tested multiple brands of skin care and have always come back to the Perricone line. Each time I wonder why I leave in the first place??? The results I think I see from other products are the great skin i obtained from using Perricone. To my dismay I always find my skin starts to lack the luster it had weeks prior when I was using Perricone so I go back. Please make me a tester!!

  17. I would love to be a tester. I am 34 and need to start really taking care of my skin,please help me do that!

    Thank you!!

  18. I want to be a tester

  19. would love to test the face firmer and or lip plumper. 45 yrs old need help

  20. I would LOVE to be a tester for your Perricone products!

  21. I am constantly trying to find new and improved products to help keep my 57 year old skin looking youthful. Proper diet and exercise are definitely necessary factors, but a great skin care regimen is also a must! I would love to be a tester for your products. Thank you!

  22. I would love to be a product tester!

  23. This doesn’t have to do with wrinkles, but I’ve always noticed that when I eat anything fried-fried chicken, french fries, etc-my skin always breaks out within the next couple of days. And not those little red bumps, but those large painful pimples that take weeks to go away completely. Already having fairly oily skin, I try to stay away from anything too oily. And I’ve heard that people who go vegan end up with really really clear skin…but I haven’t the courage nor the self restraint for that, haha!

  24. I would love to become a perricone tester!!!

  25. So the way to avoid premature aging would be to avoid foods containing glycation such as in fried foods, dark colas,and baked goods. and alot of fast food does contain this and added sugars.

  26. I would love to test your product, I have used Murad for years and a friend has been extolling the virtues of your products.

  27. Read good things about your products.

  28. im a newly qualifed beauty therapist and samples for my clients to try would be great way to get the word about of new and up and comming products please get back to me many thanks

  29. I would like to become a tester.

  30. im interested in becoming a product tester! Do i get to keep products?? Sean

  31. Fast food i only have in small bits. i like mcdonalds french fries and fish but the only reason i sometimes eat there is b/c it’s cheap..

  32. I have tried alot of anti ageing products but Perricone seams to be a product with a good reputation!!!

  33. I am looking for a new line of skin care. I love Dr. Perricone’s philosophy on nlot only skincare but, health in general.

  34. I would love to be a tester…sign me up

  35. Want to test your products!!!!

  36. i would love to be to be a tester ive been using your vitamins for two years now im a 37 year old women and everyone says i look ten years younger i tell everyone its the vitamins


  38. wow this is a great article! I would also like to be a tester and review great products on my blog

  39. i would love to try your products. i have tried many brands which have only damaged my skin more.

  40. My mother used to tell her children that fast foods and super-greasy foods were bad for our skin. Many people commented that this was just a myth, however, since cutting out fast and greasy foods since 1995, I have noticed TREMENDOUS difference. My skin is better and younger looking, and my pores seem extremely smaller. I also feel better since revisiting my diet!

  41. I would love to be a tester, I have problem skin with Rosecea and think I would be an excellent tester plus being aolder age group

  42. My lifestyle has been very fast pace. Unfortunately I have been on the run with fast food and have paid dearly for it. I seriously took a good look at my lifestyle not only because of the need for a total knee replacement, labs came back with pre-diabetic and Epstein Barr Virus, along with the pre-existing arthritis. I have totally changed my eating habits and make sure I get to the swimming pool 4-5 times a week. I testify of the benefits of balanced nutrition, combined with exercise and a positive mental attitude, I have lost 20 pounds so far. However, I had a house fire a year ago on Thanksgiving Day and lost everything. Including my skin care product I had just purchased. So with the stress of losing everything and not being settled because of the situation regarding my housing, I have not purchased a quality skin care program. My face is in dire need of additional assistance with a skin care program. Bottom line with the house is…My house went with an apartment complex. My father had to sell because the realtor forged his signature. So he sold to his best friend. I had a 50 year Life Estate Lease with the owner who basically tore down the house and lied about it and told everything he had no idea who tore it down. Anyway, he still has not provided housing for me and is not abiding by our legal, notarized , binding contract. So if I can take care of myself and my skin I would be a happy camper and let the attorneys tend to the legal matter. Thanks for listening……and please consider me for a sampling of your product which I can’t wait to try it out and tell the world how fabulous it is!

  43. Fast food does taste really great but it is horrible for your skin. The grease and fat used in these fast foods will come out in the skin which can give you blemishes and acne.