Updated: Apr 27
The Sweet Sticky Truth
What Are AGEs And Can They Age You?
You may have heard of AGEs, but what exactly are they? AGEs, or advanced glycation end products, are a compound that forms when proteins or fats combine with sugars in a process called glycation. Combinations like these cause inflammation and oxidative stress. They can damage tissues, causing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance to develop, and the formation of AGEs increases in those with type 2 diabetes. The body produces AGEs naturally, but they can also be released through cooking methods like grilling, frying, and roasting; processed foods also tend to be high in AGEs.
How Can You Avoid AGEs?
The formation of AGEs is part of normal metabolism; excessive amounts may be harmful. There are several ways you can avoid exposure to AGEs.
Cook using moist methods, such as steaming or boiling that don't involve high dry heat.
Limit your consumption of processed foods
Use shorter cooking times
Cook food gently using lower temperatures
Include acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice and vinegar, which inhibit the formation of AGEs
Diets high in processed foods have higher levels of AGEs, so limiting your intake of these foods is essential. Some processed foods that are high in AGEs include:
Can You Slow Down AGEs?
A whole food approach may be the most powerful tool in your arsenal to slow down the effect of AGEs on the body. Consuming low glycemic foods (aka less starchy) and reducing sugar helps crowd out processed foods, making room for the more optimal ones. Plus, a diet lower in sugar supports healthy glucose levels and reduces cravings.
Don't forget to add healthy fats because they are just that, healthy. Consuming extra virgin olive oil, olives, coconut oil, salmon, and avocado helps you feel satiated longer, provides long-lasting energy, serves as a protective lining for bodily organs, and aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) plus they make food taste good.
Prioritizing sleep is another powerful resource you have to slow down AGEs. Several studies have been conducted that link lack of sleep to diabetes/insulin resistance. There is evidence that sleep deprivation leads to increased glucose levels and appetite. People who sleep less eat more and experience increased evening cravings, so establish a sleep routine to get your zzzs.
There is also evidence that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome may contribute to lower circulating AGEs because gut bacteria can degrade them during digestion. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir are excellent choices for a healthy gut. Additionally, AGE-induced cell damage can be reduced by consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals found in plant-based foods.
Reducing exposure to AGEs is an excellent way to support overall health and reduce your risk of chronic disease. By making simple changes to the way you cook and eat, you can help protect your well-being in the long term by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.
Knowing what advanced glycation end products are and how to reduce exposure to them will help you manage their impact.
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