Dilly Bag skin?

Do you know anything about glycation?

Glycation can be likened to the action of drawing the cord closed on the old-fashioned dilly bag. When opened and laid flat, the dilly bag has no wrinkles, as your skin does when there is nothing pulling on the elastin fibres under the skin. When we pull the cord on the dilly bag, the tension causes the bag to crease. The sugaring of the elastin fibres under your skin are pulling the cord and creasing the skin.

So why then does this occur for some people and not others? Why you?

Below we are going to look at how we can lessen the severity of the ageing which is directly linked to the process of glycation.

The foods you consume and dietary choices you make may be affecting the glycation of oxidative stress for all organs in your body, including your skin. Overeating and undereating can also contribute to your ageing process following the glycation pathway.

Where we should be focusing is strategies to eat in order to prevent oxidative stress and to add protection to our body systems, especially the skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body.

During high-carbohydrate intake, the hepatic tissue converts glucose into fatty acids. Triacylglycerols are then formed and sent to the blood system, storing it as fat in the adipose tissue. Together with other proteins in the tissues of the body can compromise their function.

This is vastly accelerated in people living with diabetes as there is a large amount of sugar available for the glycation reactions. The deposition of glycotoxins damage vision, kidney function, vascular elasticity and circulation. Additionally, when blood sugar exceeds 180mg/dL, white blood cell function is basically paralyzed. This is why people living with diabetes suffer more commonly with wounds that will not heal. Glycotoxins also cause a release of inflammatory mediators. They change low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol making it easier to be deposited on the vessel walls and inducing the transformation of several different types of cells into myofibroblasts. Myofibroblasts tend to self-destruct and induce fibrous scar tissue.

One definition for ageing is the progressive accumulation of damage to the living tissue over the organ’s lifetime. Both internal and external stressors add to the ageing process of skin which lead to the structural change affecting youthful appearance and physiological functions. Wrinkles, dryness and loss of elasticity can all be reactions of the ageing process. Some external stressors that contribute to this process are sunlight, UV radiation, chemicals, pollutants and smoking.

Now let’s look at the definitions of some terminology.


Glycan is a term for sugar, or group of sugars that are either in free form or attached to another molecule. Can also be called saccharide or carbohydrate.

Glycan-binding proteins

These are proteins that bind to specific glycans (sugars) and mediate their biological function.


The collection of all glycans that have been synthesised by a cell, tissue or organism.


The ability for your body to form a bond between the sugars and proteins. This is the key factor in cumulative skin damage and ageing. This is not just the case for diabetics.


When glucose and fructose molecules link the proteins and fats found in collagen and elastin and cause cross-linking.


Glycation produces glycotoxins. Also known as AGEs (advanced glycation end products). As there is an absence of enzymes in the glycation process, it makes it impossible for our bodies to transport the modified proteins.

The glycation reaction forms an unstable Shiff base. The rearrangement of the Shiff base leads to stable ketoamines being formed. These usually reversible reactions undergo irreversible oxidation, polymerization, dehydration and cross-linking. Which we now know all generate the AGEs. The AGE receptors are expressed in both the epidermis and dermis. They also show higher expressions in sun-exposed areas of the skin.

The acceleration of AGE’s in all body tissues may be due to a range of factors; diet, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or Type 1 or 2 diabetes. If this condition is impacting you on your skin – your body’s largest organ – it may also be occurring on the epithelial tissues within your internal organs. Decreasing sugar in your diet will assist in depleting the elements that are causing this sugaring of the fibres. Not all sugars are created equally with the simple sugars being sucrose, fructose and glucose. The fourth sugar is name fructooligosaccharide (FOS).


Table sugar, typically from sugar cane. Digests down to fructose and glucose to be delivered to the body when required. Too much sucrose can raise blood sugar levels leading to detrimental effects on the vascular system.


Found in most fruits and vegetables and may be added in processed foods and drinks. Unlike glucose, fructose is processed directly by the liver and turned into energy for the body. And of course, only to be consumed in moderation as excess can be stored as fat, creating additional body imbalances.


Glucose is our body’s favourite source of energy. Our blood sugar molecule that circulates in the blood, triggering insulin to regulate the blood sugar levels. Most carbohydrates are broken down in the body into glucose and then becomes an immediate source of fuel for muscles or liver (as glycogen). Carbohydrates that digest slowly are called low GI and regulate the rise in blood sugar levels much better than high GI, complex carbohydrates.

Fructooligosaccharide (FOS)

A so-called ‘fourth sugar’. It is known as a hyper-glycemic and it does not get digested in the body but rather it aids in digestive health and controlling glycemic levels. Sources of this are garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus and green bananas. As with all things, you can overuse FOS and abdominal discomfort may occur, just like with any sugar indulged in. FOS feeds the good bacteria in your colon, hence why it’s called a prebiotic. It also aids in constipation due to the fibre content.

So you can see, from this simple explanation of the different sugars, that the way we eat these molecules can make a difference to the available sugar in our blood and the processing of the sugar and delivery as energy.

A source for major glycotoxins is carbohydrate-rich food which has been processed under high heat without water. The kidney is usually what clears the glycotoxins and takes approximately 24 hours, although this is slowed down in diabetes. When glycotoxin-rich food is consumed daily, an accumulation in the tissue will occur.

Barbeques, steaks and almost all fast foods are either added with glycotoxins for flavour or cooked at a high heat. Therefore, cooking at lower temperatures with water (boiling, steaming, marinating foods etc) and increasing the fresh produce consumption will drastically reduce the glycotoxin load. By removing flamed-cooked or fried meats from our diets, we can decrease the glycotoxin intake by over 50%. Studies show that over time, this has been linked to a lifespan increase of 15%.

So where is this all happening? It is happening in the mitochondria of the cells.

Within our cells, mitochondria are hard at work converting nutrients from food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Our bodies use ATP as an energy source. Mitochondria are sophisticated and essential to our biological processes.

Their functions are;

  • Converting food into energy. Our fuel source is completely reliant on them
  • Shapeshifting. When excess nutrients occur, mitochondrial fragmentation occurs. They combine and divide and alter themselves depending on our changing energy needs.

So how can we fix glycation?

There are some carotenoids, namely lutein, β-carotene, and astaxanthin which have been shown to have antiglycative power.

Charmaine D has studied and understands this process well. Book a ‘why you?’ consultation and chat with her to gain some understanding of her 35 years experience in the field. Working both as a skin therapist and a naturopath to bring change to the process of AGEs. Charmaine D also has a Cell Defence skin care range. The cosmetic chemist behind her products has developed antiglycating stem cells. This is explained in more detail in her blogs which expands on the ingredients that assist in reducing the AGEs and the crosslinking (or dilly bag cord being pulled) in your skin and internal organs.

Book a consultation today and start to learn the “why?” and the “how can I fix it?”