You’ve heard it’s true, but maybe you don’t know how diet affects aging exactly. If our diet affects how we age, can we stop or perhaps even reverse the effects? Research actually proves we can mitigate and even reverse the effects poor diet has on aging.
Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs
Advanced Glycation End Products (also and appropriately called AGEs) are the result of sugar molecules attaching to a protein without the controlling action of an enzyme. Where the sugar attaches to protein is where inflammation occurs, and when sugar attaches to a collagen protein wrinkles form as the inflammation produces enzymes that break down the collagen. The collagen protein, which was once soft and supple, becomes stiff and inflexible. Basically, the sugar molecule attachment prevents the protein from doing it’s original job. Aging skin is a direct result of AGEs in our bodies.
AGEs are Linked to Many Age-Related Diseases
AGEs are well known in the medical community, but are relatively unknown to the rest of us. Research has shown AGEs to be linked to diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, decreased brain function, Alzheimer’s Disease as well as many other age-related diseases. The majority of the AGEs that attack our bodies as we get older are a result of genetics and our environment. However, roughly 10% of AGEs are through consumption of foods, and research has proven that we can not only reduce AGEs effects but can also reverse them through diet.
How to Reduce the Effects of AGEs Through Diet
We can reduce the amount of AGEs in our bodies by consuming less sugar and changing the way we cook. Consuming products that are high in sugar increase the sugar levels in our bloodstream. The rise of sugar in the bloodstream increases the reactions between sugars and proteins which lead to the production of AGEs. Additionally, cooking food until brown is also a major cause of AGEs in our bodies. Scientists have known that cooking foods until brown, or
proteins and sugars cooked together without water, form advanced glycation products. Grilling a chicken until brown is a good example. That browned skin may taste very good, but that browned and brittle skin is a good representation of what the AGEs do to your skin.
As an example, the National Academy of Sciences of the US says that cooking cereal (granola) for 25 minutes at a temperature of 175 degrees Celsius increases the AGEs content by 400%. To see more examples, click here for a list from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Likewise, this same organization shows that a diet soda (with dark coloring) contains almost 9000 more units per cup of AGEs content than Orange Juice, click here for table.
Nicholas Perricone, MD, goes into detail about AGEs in his book, “Ageless Face, Ageless Mind: Erase Wrinkles & Rejuvenate the Brain.” It’s very enlightening, and Dr. Perricone goes into a lot of detail about how AGEs affect the skin and how to change our diets to reduce and reverse AGEs affects on our skin and body. In the book, he suggest that if you are going to grill, cut meats into smaller portions and so that they are exposed to high heat for less time. Additionally, he suggests eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
Other resources used in this post: Advanced Glycation Endproducts And Aging Skin, Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences (US), Advanced Glycation endproducts and their receptor RAGE in Alzheimer’s disease, and Wikipedia.
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