Nutritious Bytes

Dr. Debé's blog on metabolically tailored nutrition and wellness

The Most Under-Appreciated Factor in Health & Aging.

Glycation: The Single Most Important Factor in Degenerative Disease and Aging and Chances Are You Haven't Heard of It

There are more than 7000 published papers on the subject of glycation. Glycation is the process of interaction of sugars with proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, giving rise to damaged tissue. Crust formation as bread bakes is also the result of glycation. You may like crust on your bread but you don't want crust forming in your body! When sugar binds and alters a protein, the resulting sugar-damaged molecule is called an Advanced Glycation Endproduct (AGE). It turns out that AGE is an appropriate acronym, as these altered biomolecules do indeed play a major role in biological aging.

Studies have found a correlation between higher AGE levels in blood and other tissues and incidence of chronic diseases. Higher tissue AGE levels also correlate with impaired physical and mental functioning with age. What's more, individuals with higher AGE levels were found to have shorter life expectancy.

AGEs cross-link and damage proteins in the body. Cross-linked collagen weakens bones and causes skin wrinkling.  

AGEs also do damage by altering function. They increase inflammation and oxidative stress (free radical excess).

AGEs form in the body from high blood sugar. So, drinking a lot of sugar-sweetened soda, for example, will increase AGE levels in the body.

Surprisingly perhaps, an even greater contributor to body AGE levels is the content of preformed dietary AGE, which is found in highest concentration in high-protein and high-fat foods.

 Another important influence on body AGE levels is how the food was cooked. Higher cooking temperatures result in greater AGE formation in foods. The more AGEs we eat, the more we absorb and accumualte in our tissues.

There have been many interesting and powerful animal studies on dietary AGEs. Some studies have fed two groups of animals the same diet but simply varied the cooking time. This has the effect of dramatically changing the diet's AGE content. It has been found that animals fed low-AGE diets have healthier organs and live longer than animals fed higher AGE diets.  

There have been many fascinating human studies on AGEs, as well. As compared to a low-AGE diet, a high-AGE diet was found to result in increased cholesterol, triglycerides, and impaired blood vessel function.

There are many ways for us to reduce and neutralize the adverse health effects of AGEs. These will be discussed in detail in  my upcoming webinar and lecture.

In the coming months, I will be designing and perfecting low-AGE dietary programs.

For a much more detailed  (and scientific) discussion of this subject, click here to read my glycation article, which was published in Nutritional Perspectives.