Slowing Down AGE-ing

By Pat Baird, MA, RDN, FADA

Slowing down the body’s aging process starts with controlling levels of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). The result of a glycation reaction, AGEs are formed when a protein or fat binds to a sugar, rendering the protein unable to do its job in the body.

AGE compounds accumulate in our bodies, reaching unhealthy levels over time. Increasing scientific research is focusing on the role of high levels of AGEs in diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart disease, and kidney disease, among others.

As research continues to prove the effects high AGE levels have on the body, these harmful compounds will become a crucial biomarker for healthy living—much like blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index (BMI) are today. Just as we can lower our insulin levels or blood pressure by adjusting our diet and lifestyle, we can do the same with AGEs.

Preventing AGE buildup

AGEs accumulate in two ways. They form inside the body when excess sugars and proteins combine, and we also ingest them in many of the foods we eat. A proactive nutritional approach can limit the amount of AGEs we take in through our diet, preventing our overall AGE level from reaching an unhealthy range.

Start by limiting processed and sugary foods. Foods cooked at high temperatures—particularly fatty meats—are also sources of AGEs. Many people do not see grilling or broiling meat as unhealthy, but studies show that AGE levels increase with high-heat cooking methods. Grilling, broiling, sautéing, and toasting should be curtailed to limit AGE consumption.

Cooking: go low and slow

AGE-less cooking methods follow the “low and slow” rule or incorporate water into the process to keep AGE content low while preserving flavor. Using a slow cooker reduces AGEs up to 80 percent compared to high-heat methods. Steaming, poaching, and boiling also prevent rising AGE levels.

It can be hard for people to give up all high-heat cooking methods, so strive for moderation. One precautionary measure you can take when grilling is to use an acid-based marinade such as lemon or lime, which can reduce AGEs by up to 50 percent.

Iridoids

Iridoids—phytonutrients found in noni fruit, blueberries, olive leaves, cranberries, and cornelian cherries—have been found to fight infection, disease, and AGEs. Beverages such as TruAge Max make daily intake convenient so people can reap the benefits of iridoids. For more discussion of AGEs and how to minimize their accumulation, visit AGEFoundation.com.