By Grace Miazga
There are a thousand different things in the world that accelerate the aging process, from tanning to smoking, too much stress, skipping out on sleep, and everything in between. Now it’s time to open your eyes to another way aging may be sneaking up on you quicker than you want, and it lives in your kitchen. Many foods and cooking methods contain and/or produce nasty compounds that can lead to an extra wrinkle, or even worse, a disease driven from inflammation – and they are literally called AGE’s.
Advanced glycation end-products (AGE’s) are a type of gerontoxin, meaning “aging toxin”. AGE’s come in two forms. They can either be a waste-product developed from the natural process of metabolism, or they are derived from your daily diet and cooking methods. Diet-derived AGE’s are the ones to be cautious about, since they become a major source of active toxins when ingested, leading them to have pathogenic characteristics which include tissue stiffness, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Essentially, AGE’s allow cells to become hypersensitised towards damage and premature aging. As a result, they can affect multiple areas of the body, including the brain, eyes, and heart. This evidently increases the risk of developing numerous inflammatory disease, such as:
- Macular degeneration
- Heart failure
- Kidney Disease
- Muscle loss
Dietary AGE’s are formed through the Malliard reaction, more so known as the browning process during cooking. Meat-derived products naturally house the highest amount of AGE’s. When cooked with dry heat at high temperatures for a short amount of time, this increases AGE production even more. Thus, making it very easy to consume a huge amount of AGE’s from ingesting one single charred hamburger. Thankfully, the majority of AGE’s we ingest are naturally excreted from the body within a few days, but like everything else dietary-wise, having too much can lead to bad things. Consuming excessive amounts of AGE’s cannot be properly rid of, and may lead to an adverse biological aftermath.
Although meat-derived products contain the highest amount of AGE’s, this does not necessarily mean carnivorous dieters have higher levels of AGE’s in their body. In fact, another study found that individuals with a more plant-based diet produce more AGE’s within their bodies compared to meat-eaters. This is due to the glucose vs fructose ratio. Subsequently, fructose tends to produce more AGE’s even though plant-based foods naturally hold fewer AGE’s. In simple terms, the number of AGE’s that goes into your mouth doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the same number of AGE’s that stays in your body to potentially cause detrimental impacts.
In spite of the fact there is controversial scientific evidence between which foods contribute most to increased diet-derived AGE’s formed in the body, there are still precautions everyone can take in attempts to flee from going overboard on AGE’s. So how do we bypass the peril of excessive AGE’s in the body? By avoiding the major contributors that put you at risk of oxidative stress, degenerative diseases, and ultimately, premature aging. This is simply done by choosing better cooking methods and picking the right foods to eat.
Know what you’re eating! By restricting intake of AGE-foods, you may prevent the development of oxidative stress. Here’s a list of high and low AGE-foods that will make meal prep easier:
High AGE Foods:
- Sugary foods: bakery, sweets, and candy
- Fats: butter, margarine, and oil
- Grilled/charred red meats
- Fried foods
Low AGE Foods:
- Raw or steamed fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
Also, use the best cooking methods! Dry-heat cooking can increase AGE production by 10-100 fold compared to uncooked foods. When it comes to vegetables and fruits, it’s best to eat them raw. However, if you prefer them cooked, use moist-heat cooking by adding water while boiling, poaching, or steaming. Grilling, roasting, and broiling are the cooking methods that prominently generate the Malliard reaction (browning effect). To decrease dietary AGE formation during these cooking techniques, use an acidic marinade or incorporate citrus-based foods to your recipe. Here’s a great marinade recipe you can use on just about anything!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
And remember to get enough sleep and exercise, handle your stress healthfully, and kick any bad habits (like smoking) in the butt to greater your chances of decelerating aging so living a happier, healthier, and longer life becomes reality!
Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic
Physiol. Res. 51: 313-316, 2002