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Friday, August 14, 2015

Reduce AGEing with these 5 Strategies

Sugar is AGEing
It all started when the presenter poured maple syrup on protein molecules.

No, I wasn’t at IHOP. I was attending a grueling nutrition conference where, after sitting through a day’s worth of lectures, my brain felt fried. Feeling like an introvert with a low tolerance for hype or networking, I simply wanted to hang out in my hotel room and regroup before our evening social gathering.

Yet my coworker remained adamant about this late-afternoon seminar titled “How AGE-ing Destroys Your Life.” 

I reluctantly attended, where I watched as this doctor demonstrated how, in a maze-like structure, oyster-looking proteins slithered around in your body.
Turns out when you pour sticky sugar on proteins, they slow down and get sticky. “That’s what happens when you eat too much
sugar,” he explained. “Sugar literally ‘gums’ up those proteins, making them functionally inefficient.” 

Weeks later I spoke with my friend Dr. Jonny Bowden, who in The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer calls glycation “one of the Four Horsemen of Aging,” contributing to nearly every disease on the planet. 

Bowden confirmed when these proteins become glycated or “gummed up,” molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) occur.

As these hard-working proteins become more coated with this sticky syrup, they can’t get through the smaller blood vessels and other areas that need blood flow. This slow-down effect wreaks massive havoc. AGEs inhibit blood flow. They damage your arteries, increasing your risk for stroke, heart disease, and other complications. They destroy your immune system. And appropriately, they age you.
Type 2 diabetes perfectly illustrates glycation. Diabetes involves too much sugar in your blood (increasing risk for sticky proteins) and impaired circulation. Among their problems, researchers found AGEs contribute to diabetic nephropathy and retinopathy.
Diabetes aside, AGEs “accumulate to high levels in tissues in age-related chronic diseases,” one study found, contributing to Alzheimer’s development and other issues. Every organ falls victim to their effects. Your vascular system does, but so do your brain, your nervous system, and your bones.
Studies also show oxidative stress – think of slicing open an apple and watching it brown; that same thing occurs in your body – can increase AGEs, subsequently churning out more free radicals that in a vicious cycle eventually amp up AGEs.
AGEs can also increase chronic inflammation, an athlete’s worst nightmare. Achy joints, soreness, and fatigue are among inflammation’s many game-wrecking symptoms.
Obviously, you want to do everything possible to prevent AGEs from forming. Luckily, these five strategies can put you in control:
1.      Minimize the fried stuff. “When you cook foods at really high temperatures like those needed for frying, it results in what’s called a ‘browning’ effect, which is simply another term for glycation,” Bowden says. “[You’re] basically eating glycated proteins.” He goes on to say high-heat cooked foods “are virtual glycation factories [where you ingest] AGEs, which are basically the end result of glycation.” It isn’t so much the meat (although quality matters), but how you cook it. One study looked at various cooking methods and concluded broiling and frying yielded the highest levels of AGEs
2.     Ditch the fructose. Sugar breaks down to glucose and fructose, and too much becomes bad, period. Yet fructose becomes the big bad wolf, heading straight to your liver and eventually converting to triglycerides (fat). Bowden says fructose is seven times more likely to form AGEs than glucose. In fruit, which comes wrapped up in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants, fructose isn’t usually a problem. But as high-fructose corn syrup, you’re asking for an AGEing catastrophe.
3.     Eat more plant foods. “Animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein are generally AGE-rich and prone to new AGE formation during cooking,” one study concluded. “In contrast, carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk contain relatively few AGEs, even after cooking.”

Vegetarians, you’re not off the hook: One study found they had higher levels of AGEs than meat eaters because they ate more fructose-heavy plant foods than meat eaters.
4.     Exercise smarter. Among its benefits, consistent exercise normalizes inflammation (which goes hand in hand with AGEs), helps your body better metabolize sugar so it doesn’t “gum up” those important proteins, and reduces your risk for diabetes and other problems. 
5.      Prioritize Recovery. Over-training can increase AGEs. So can chronic stress and not getting enough sleep. One study found non-diabetic people with obstructive sleep apnea had increased levels of AGEs. Even if you don’t suffer sleeping disorders, not getting optimal amounts of quality sleep can skyrocket aging, increasing inflammation and disease risk.
As more studies appear showing sugar’s detrimental, long-reaching damage, what strategies are you taking to reduce your intake? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.

Additional References
Bowden, Jonny. The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer. (Massachusetts: Fair Wind, 2010).

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  1. If I were to eat a protein only meal how long after could I have a carbohydrate meal. What's the digestive time frame before I can have fructose that won't interfere with my protein meal.

    Thank you

    1. You're better off having some carbohydrate WITH the protein. The important thing is the source. You don't want to hammer your system with sugar but a little sugar will balance the meal and prevent the bigger insulin spike that a carbohydrate-only meal would produce. For example, if you have a post workout shake, throw some low-sugar berries in there for the fiber, vitamins, phytonutrients etc.