What are advanced glycation end products (AGEs)?

Overeating and obesity are known to cause serious health problems. They increase their risk of developing insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease (1).

However, studies have found that advanced glycation end products (AGE) can also have a powerful effect on your metabolic health, regardless of weight.

AGEs are harmful compounds. They accumulate naturally as they age and are created when certain foods are cooked at high temperatures.

This article explains everything you need to know about AGEs, including what they are and how you can reduce their levels.

What are AGEs?

The end products of advanced glycation (AGE) are harmful compounds that are formed when protein or fat combine with blood sugar. This process is called glycation (2).

AGEs can also be formed in food. Foods that have been exposed to high temperatures, such as roasting, frying or toasting, tend to be very high in these compounds.

In fact, diet is the largest contributor to AGEs.

Fortunately, your body has ways to eliminate these harmful compounds, even with antioxidants and enzymes (3, 4).

However, when you consume too many AGEs, or too many forms spontaneously, your body can not keep eliminating them and they will accumulate.

Although low levels are generally not a concern, it has been shown that high levels cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body (5).

High levels have been linked to the development of many different diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer's and even premature aging (6).

In addition, people who have high blood sugar levels, such as diabetics, have an increased risk of producing too many AGEs, which can then accumulate in the body.

Because of this, many health professionals are asking that AGE levels become a marker of general health.

Bottom line: AGEs are compounds formed in the body when fat and protein combine with sugar. When they accumulate at high levels, they increase the risk of developing many different diseases.

Modern diets are linked to high levels of AGE

Modern diets are linked to AGEs that accumulate in the body.

This is mainly due to popular cooking methods that expose food to dry heat.

These include roasting, broiling, roasting, baking, frying, sautéing, roasting, browning and toasting (7).

These cooking methods can make food taste, smell and look good, but raise AGEs to dangerous levels (8).

In fact, dry heat causes AGE formation to increase from 10 to 100 times the levels in raw foods (7).

Certain foods, such as animal foods high in fat and protein, are more susceptible to the formation of AGE during cooking (7).

The highest foods in AGEs include meat (especially red meat), certain cheeses, fried eggs, butter, cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, oils and nuts. Fried foods and highly processed products also contain high levels.

So even if your diet seems reasonably healthy, you can consume an unhealthy amount of harmful AGEs just by the way your food is cooked.

Bottom line: AGEs can be made inside the body or consumed with the foods you eat. Certain cooking methods can cause your food levels to soar.

When AGEs accumulate, they can seriously damage health

The body has natural ways to get rid of harmful AGE compounds.

However, if you consume too many AGEs in your diet, they will accumulate faster than your body can eliminate them. This can affect every part of the body, causing serious health problems.

In fact, high levels are associated with most of the chronic diseases that are currently observed.

These include heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, Alzheimer's, arthritis, kidney failure and high blood pressure, among others (9, 10, 11, 12).

One study examined a group of 559 older women and found that those with the highest levels of AGE in their blood were almost twice as likely to die of heart disease as women with the lowest levels (11).

Another study found that among a group of obese individuals, those with metabolic syndrome had higher levels of AGE in their blood than those who were obese but had no other health problems (13).

Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal condition where estrogen and progesterone levels are out of balance, have been shown to have higher levels of AGE in their bodies than women without the condition (14).

In addition, a high consumption of AGE through diet has been directly related to all these chronic diseases (5, 15).

This is because AGEs adversely affect body cells, promoting oxidative stress and inflammation (16, 17, 18).

High levels of inflammation over a long period of time can cause damage to all organs of the body (19).

Bottom line: AGEs can accumulate in the body, causing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. This increases the risk of many different diseases.

Diets low in age can improve health and reduce the risk of disease

The findings of studies in both animals and humans suggest that limiting dietary EFA helps protect against many diseases and premature aging (20).

Several studies in animals have shown that consuming a diet low in AGE produces lower levels of AGE in the blood and tissues up to 53%, plus a lower risk of heart and kidney disease, as well as an increased sensitivity to the insulin (21, 22, 23). , 24, 25).

Similar results were found in humans. The restriction of dietary EFA in patients with diabetes or kidney disease, as well as in healthy people, reduces the markers of oxidative stress and inflammation (26, 27, 28).

A one-year study gave 138 obese people a low-AGE diet. Participants benefited from increased insulin sensitivity, a moderate decrease in body weight, lower levels of AGE, and lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation (29).

Those in the control group, on the other hand, followed the regular AGE diet. They consumed more than 12,000 kilo units of AGE per day. The kilo units of AGE per liter (kU / l) are the units used to measure AGE levels.

At the end of the study, they had higher levels of AGE and markers of insulin resistance, oxidative stress and inflammation (29).

Although it has been shown that a reduction in dietary EFA has clear health benefits, there are still no guidelines for safe and optimal intake (7).

Bottom line: It has been shown that limiting or avoiding dietary EFA reduces the levels of inflammation and oxidative stress, which means a lower risk of developing other chronic diseases.

So how much is too much?

It is believed that the average AGE consumption in New York is around 15,000 kilos of AGE per day, and many people consume much higher levels (7).

Therefore, a diet with a high AGE is often referred to as significantly higher than 15,000 kilo units per day and anything far below is considered low.

To get a rough idea of ​​whether you are consuming too many AGEs, take a look at your diet. Do you regularly eat grilled or roasted meats, solid fats, full-fat dairy products and highly processed foods? If so, you are probably consuming quite high levels of AGE.

On the other hand, if you consume a diet rich in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, and consume low-fat dairy and less meat, AGE levels will probably be lower.

If you regularly prepare foods with moist heat, such as soups and stews, you will also consume lower levels of AGE.

To put this in perspective, here are some examples of the amount of AGE in common foods (7):

  • 1 fried egg 1,240 kU / l

  • 1 scrambled egg 75 kU / l

  • 2 ounces (57 grams) of toasted bagel: 100 kU / l

  • 2 ounces fresh muffin: 60 kU / l

  • 1 tablespoon of cream 325 kU / l

  • ¼ cup (59 ml) of whole milk: 3 kU / l

  • 3 ounces of chicken on the grill: 5,200 kU / l

  • 3 ounces of poached chicken: 1,000 kU / l

  • 3 ounces of french fries: 690 kU / l

  • 3 ounces of baked potato: 70 kU / l

  • 3 ounces (85 grams) of grilled steak: 6,600 kU / l

  • 3 ounces of stewed meat: 2,200 kU / l

Bottom line: If you regularly cook foods at high temperatures or consume large amounts of processed foods, your AGE levels are probably too high.

Tips to reduce your age levels

The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce AGE levels in the body. Here are some suggestions:

Choose different cooking methods

The most effective way to reduce your AGE intake is to choose healthier cooking methods.

Instead of using high heat and dry cooking, try cooking, poaching, boiling and steaming.

Cooking with moist heat, at lower temperatures and for shorter periods of time, all help to keep AGE production low (7).

In addition, cooking meat with acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomato juice or lemon juice can reduce AGE production by up to 50% (7).

Cooking on ceramic surfaces instead of directly on metal can also reduce AGE production. It is believed that slow cookers are one of the healthiest ways to cook food.

Limit foods high in AGEs

Fried foods and highly processed foods contain higher levels of AGE.

Certain foods, such as animal feed, also tend to be higher in AGEs. These include meat (especially red meat), certain cheeses, fried eggs, butter, cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, oils and nuts (7).

Try to eliminate or limit these foods and, instead, choose whole, fresh and natural foods, which are naturally lower in AGE.

For example, foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains have lower levels, even after cooking (7).

Eat a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods

In laboratory studies, it has been shown that natural antioxidants, such as vitamin C and quercetin, hinder the formation of AGE (30).

In addition, several animal studies have shown that some natural plant phenols can prevent the negative health effects of AGEs (31, 32).

One of these is the compound curcumin, which is found in turmeric. Resveratrol, which can be found in dark fruit skins such as grapes, blueberries and raspberries, may also help (31, 32).

Therefore, a diet full of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices can help protect against the harmful effects of AGEs in the body.

Keep active

Apart from diet, an inactive lifestyle can cause AGE levels to skyrocket.

In contrast, it has been shown that regular exercise and an active lifestyle reduce the amount of AGE in the body (33, 34).

A study among 17 middle-aged women found that people who increased the number of steps they took per day experienced a reduction in AGE levels (33).

Bottom line: Choosing healthier cooking methods, limiting foods rich in AGE, eating more antioxidant-rich foods and exercising regularly can help reduce AGE levels in the body.

Bring the message home

Modern diets are contributing to higher levels of harmful AGEs in the body.

This is worrisome, since the high levels of AGE are related to most of the chronic diseases that are seen today. The good news is that you can make decisions to reduce your levels.

Choose healthy, whole, and fresh foods, healthier cooking methods, and an active lifestyle to protect your health.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/advanced-glycation-end-products


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