There is an old saying that says, “You are what you eat,” and it is still as relevant today as it was before. People who eat healthy food and make a concerted effort to reduce harmful ingredients in their food tend to stay healthy for longer.
On the other hand, people who consume harmful foods tend to have a higher risk of major diseases and shorter lifespans. One of the things that can cause a lot of damage to our body is AGEs, which is short for Advanced Glycation End Products.
So, what are AGEs, and why are they harmful to our bodies? Let’s find out.
What Are AGEs?
AGEs is short for Advanced Glycation End Products. They accumulate in the body when the fats or proteins present in the blood combine with sugar. This process is known as glycation. Since this process occurs in the bloodstream, the vasculature is acutely affected by AGEs.
Advanced Glycation End Products form due to a natural process that plays a pivotal role in aging. Hence why, AGEs and aging are often discussed together.
However, AGEs can accumulate in the body prematurely due to poor diet choices. While there is still research being conducted on the matter, there is evidence that the accumulation of Advanced Glycation End Products in people’s bodies due to unhealthy food has led to the recent rise in cardiovascular events and increase in Diabetes Mellitus incidence.
What Does High AGEs Diet Do To Your Body And Skin?
AGEs and aging go hand in hand, which means these substances are present in our bodies as we age. However, the presence of AGEs in relatively young people is a cause of concern for the healthcare community as it means that the current Western diet is causing people’s bodies to undergo damage early on.
The accumulation of Advanced Glycation End Products in the blood vessels causes a lot of oxidative damage to the surrounding areas. This damage can slowly pile up and cause a variety of diseases. So, let’s see which disease can occur as a result of the action of AGEs.
Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body’s insulin sensitivity decreases or the body stops producing an adequate amount of insulin. Diabetes affects nearly all the systems of our body, including but not limited to the cardiovascular, nervous, renal, digestive, and endocrine systems.
Atherosclerosis, which is the hardening and blockage of the arteries due to cholesterol accumulation, can occur due to the repeated formation of AGEs. People who consume food high in these toxins have a higher risk of developing heart disease due to the damage caused by the Advanced Glycation End Products.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects thinking, memory and behavior. Most people with Alzheimer’s require assisted living and a lot of care to survive, as they are unable to perform most daily tasks. The accumulation of AGEs in the brain tissue can lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Cataracts occur when opacities develop on the eye’s lens and cause impaired vision. It usually affects the elderly and requires corrective surgery for them to be able to see properly. Advanced Glycation End Products can cause cataracts to develop earlier if too much of this toxic substance has accumulated.
Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle function as a muscle loses its mass, strength, and ability to contract. It can occur due to oxidative damage caused by AGEs and can prove to be a debilitating disease.
Delayed Wound Healing
Our skin is our natural barrier against pathogens, uncontrollable bleeding, and infection. However, an open wound can change all that as the barrier is now compromised. Wound healing allows us to patch up any defects in this protective barrier so our body’s functions are not affected by bacteria, bleeding, or any other damage.
When Advanced Glycation End Products reach a high enough level in the body, delayed wound healing occurs. This delayed healing spells trouble as it can cause many problems, especially in people with some other conditions.
End-Stage Renal Disease
End-stage renal disease occurs when the kidney damage is so severe and longstanding that there is no hope for recovery. Most people with ESRD have to either get lifelong dialysis or get a kidney transplant as the patient’s own kidneys have completely failed.
The accumulation of AGEs in the microvasculature of the kidneys is one of the ways in which End Stage Renal Disease can occur.
How Many AGEs Should We Be Consuming vs. How Many We Are Consuming
The average AGE consumption in a huge metropolitan city such as New York is around 15,000 AGE kilounits every day. While there are no exact measurements for AGE consumption, researchers do say that anyone who consumes AGEs more than the aforementioned 15,000 AGE kilounits is in danger of developing some of the diseases that can occur due to AGEs accumulation.
So, if you’re trying to be careful about what kind of food you consume and whether or not it has Advanced Glycation End Products in it, try to make sure that the food you consume doesn’t exceed the specified limit of AGEs.
However, most people consume more than 30,000 AGE kilounits daily as most modern food is fried, roasted, or extremely processed, which causes the food to be very high in AGEs.
What Foods Are High In Advanced Glycation End Products?
Some foods are cooked or prepared so that they are higher in AGEs. You need to avoid these foods if you wish to avoid some very serious chronic conditions. So, what foods are packed with Advanced Glycation End Products? Let’s find out!
While we all love the decadent taste of cheese and butter, it might be time to quit or at least limit our dairy intake as cheese appears to be quite high in AGEs.
Cream cheese, Feta cheese, Brie, and cheddar cheese are quite high in AGEs and can reduce your risk for various life-threatening health conditions.
While the meat itself is high in AGEs; it is actually the method of preparing the meat that often causes it to rack up the Advanced Glycation End Products.
Broiling, roasting, and frying can lead to a rapid rise in AGEs levels, which is why it might be better to boil your food or let it stew instead of frying, roasting, or broiling it.
Fried bacon, nuggets, burger patties, roasted chicken, broiled tuna, etc., are all extremely high in AGEs and should be avoided in people at risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.
Many fast foods are fried at high heat or roasted. Foods such as pizza, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, mac, and cheese, and pork wontons are quite high in AGEs. These foods should be avoided as an unhealthy accumulation of AGEs can lead to permanent oxidative damage and inflammation, which can cause cardiovascular diseases, kidney problems, and diabetes.
Tips To Reduce Advanced Glycation End Products
If reading this article so far has filled you with dread, don’t worry just yet. There are ways in which you can reduce your dietary intake of Advanced Glycation End Products so your risk of developing kidney or cardiac disease stays minimal.
So, what are these life-changing tips? Let’s find out!
- Add Some Exercise To Your Daily Routine
We often say that a sedentary lifestyle is the root cause of many life-threatening diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, and hypertension. But why does a sedentary lifestyle lead to these diseases?
While there are many reasons why these diseases occur in inactive people, one of the main reasons is that a sedentary lifestyle causes a huge spike in the levels of Advanced Glycation End Products in the human body.
So, if you’re concerned about AGEs causing inflammation and oxidative damage in your body, jump on that treadmill and get moving!
- Consume Some Antioxidants Everyday
Vitamin C is a great antioxidant, and it is present in many citrus fruits. Turmeric, blueberries, grapes, apples, kale, capers, broccoli, and pomegranates have excellent antioxidant properties and help the body combat the formation of harmful AGEs.
So, if you supplement your diet with some delicious fruits and vegetables, you might be able to reduce your AGE levels!
- Avoid Eating Processed Food
Excessive heating can cause what is known as the Maillard Reaction to occur. Most often, this reaction is favorable to us because it imparts color, taste, and fragrance to the food we are preparing. However, this reaction also causes excessive AGEs to form.
Most processed food items have been extensively heat-treated to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens, increase shelf-life and improve the taste. If you have a lifestyle that requires you to consume a high quantity of processed foods, you might be stuffing your blood vessels with damaging AGEs.
So, before you reach for the frozen ready-to-eat meals off the grocery aisle, think about your AGE levels!
- Change Your Cooking Methods
Even if you avoid eating processed foods and prepare all your meals at home, you can still rack up quite a lot of AGEs in your food by unfavorable cooking methods.
Cooking anything at high heat for a short period, such as when roasting or broiling meat, yields a huge number of Advanced Glycation End Products. Since most of our modern foods are cooked this way, many people consume more AGEs than they would if they’d eaten out.
A definite way to reduce the amount of AGEs in your diet is by cooking your food on low heat with some degree of moisture present. This dramatically reduces the number of AGEs in your food while also allowing your meat to be cooked.
Another way to reduce Advanced Glycation End Products in your diet is by marinating the meat you’re about to cook for a little while beforehand. The citrus in the marinade provides beneficial antioxidant properties and reduces AGEs in the end product.
What Foods Are Low in Advanced Glycation End Products?
Fried meat dishes, dairy products, and processed foods are packed with AGEs. It means that no matter how tasty you find them, you’ll need to limit them in your diet to save yourself from the long-term effects of AGEs on your metabolism and body processes.
So, what foods can you have in this situation? Here are a few food options that are low in Advanced Glycation End Products!
The banana is a very filling fruit and can be used in just about anything. Add some bananas to your daily routine for some flavorful bulk and a minimal amount of AGEs.
Boiled food doesn’t accumulate many Advanced Glycation End Products in it, which is why boiled rice is a great option for a filling food item with no damaging substances.
Carbohydrates are generally lower in AGEs than other food groups, which is why they are a particular favorite among people who wish to limit the number of AGEs they consume. Just boil some pasta and make a delicious sauce with your favorite marinade for a meal low in AGEs!
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants that repair and prevent wear and tear in our bodies. These foods are also low in AGEs, which makes them an excellent addition to any meal.
In fact, you should make a habit of snacking on fruits and veggies in between meals for a great metabolism and plenty of healthy antioxidants in your body.
AGEs Cause Aging – Cut Them Out!
We live in the era of the internet, which means we can do our own research on things we wish to learn more about. We can also order food that’s good for us and look up methods to cook our food in a way that limits our consumption of harmful substances.
So, there’s no need to despair. Follow the tips mentioned earlier for a diet that’s healthy and low in Advanced Glycation End Products!
Uribarri J, Cai W, Peppa M, Goodman S, Ferrucci L, Striker G, Vlassara H. Circulating glycotoxins and dietary advanced glycation endproducts: two links to inflammatory response, oxidative stress, and aging.
URIBARRI, J., WOODRUFF, S., GOODMAN, S., CAI, W., CHEN, X., PYZIK, R., YONG, A., STRIKER, G. E., & VLASSARA, H. (2010). Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet.
Jyotiska Chaudhuri, YasminBains, Sanjib Guha, Arnold Kahn, David Hall, Neelanjan Bose, Alejandro Gugliucci, Pankaj Kapahi. The Role of Advanced Glycation End Products in Aging and Metabolic Diseases: Bridging Association and Causality.