Natural Health News
Naturopathic Health Care Inc.

Dr. Jon Dunn, Licensed Naturopathic Doctor
JULY  2009
AGEs and Aging
Click on PUBLIC TALKS to see Dr. Dunn's current speaking engagements!
email me
Wrongly prepared food creates advanced glycation end products, (AGEs), an apt acronym for these molecular compounds that cause serious disease and suffering.   AGEs are inflammatory toxins that increase the risk for diabetes, arthritis, cataracts, blindness, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. 
How we prepare our food may be as important as the food itself when it comes to our health and well being.
Grilled, fried, flame broiled and excessively heated foods have the highest concentration of AGEs.
Favor low AGE uncooked foods such as raw nuts and seeds, salads, occasional whole fruit, cooked grains and use water when you cook.
Wrongly prepared food creates advanced glycation end products, (AGEs), an apt acronym for these molecular compounds that cause serious disease and suffering.   AGEs are inflammatory toxins that increase the risk for diabetes, arthritis, cataracts, blindness, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.  

AGEs have multiple origins.  Grilled, fried, flame broiled and excessively heated foods have the highest concentration of them.  Pasteurization creates AGEs.  Cigarette smoke is full of them. Commercial food makers use them as a food additive, to enhance flavor and appearance in sodas, donuts and other processed food.  AGEs also occur as a byproduct of normal metabolism.  

Our ability to clear out these toxins decreases with age.  This slowed clearance results in damage to the organs and tissues of the body from oxidative stress and free radical injury.  Some researchers believe that AGEs are the primary culprit in the aging process pointing to animal experiments that find low-AGE diets result in longer healthier life spans.  The only other intervention shown to extend lifespan in animal studies has been severe caloric restriction.  Lab findings such as elevated C-reactive protein, an inflammatory risk factor for cardiovascular disease, indicate an overload of AGEs. 

AGEs result from an interaction of sugars, proteins and certain fats during high temperature, low moisture, cooking.  AGEs are what give cooked food the brown color: toast, cookies, browned meat, browned coffee beans and browned tofu all have AGES.  Food manufactures know this, and will often add sugar to products to achieve this browning effect.  The more brown, the more carcinogenic the food will be.

AGEs created inside of the body occur ten times more easily in the presence of fructose (see Fructose Malabsorption newsletter) then with glucose, our primary body fuel.  That is why our high fructose American diets are dangerous, especially for diabetics who already have a difficult time with sugar.

Just as with trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated oils, food labeling should identify the level of AGEs to help inform consumers concerned about their purchase of healthy foods.  Broiled hot dogs contain about 10,000 units of AGEs, a boiled hot dog about 7,000 units and an apple or banana contain about 10 units.  Baby formulas, another processed food, contains 100 time more AGEs then breast milk.

How to Reduce AGEs
AGEs can be deceptive like sugar; they improve the taste and smell of food.  I won’t say, “Never eat barbecued or fried food”, but I do suggest moderation.

To reduce the body burden of AGEs, avoid high temperature cooking and consumption of processed foods, pasteurized food and full fat cheeses.  Favor low AGE uncooked foods like raw nuts and seeds, salads, occasional whole fruit, cooked grains such as millet, quinoa and buckwheat, and use water when you cook.

The best way to reduce AGEs in cooked food is to cook with water by boiling, steaming, stewing or poaching.  The presence of water during the heating process prevents the formation of AGEs.  If you plan to cook with dry heat, to help prevent the formation of AGEs during the cooking process, first marinate the food in lemon juice, vinegar or other acidic substance.

Enjoying that low AGE meal you’ve prepared is the next step when it comes to ensuring optimal health.  Don’t multi-task during the meal, relax, chew your food well and take a moment to notice the rich flavors, texture and smell of the meal.   Something as simple as being fully present during a meal can correct a host of issues including eating disorders, obesity, GERD and IBS.   A good resource to aide the high intensity eater is Chozen Bays book titled Mindful Eating.

Summary
Often it is the simple things we do that so significantly impacts our health.  How we cook our food is one of them.  

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s newsletter.  Comments are always welcome.

In Health,
Jon Dunn, ND   

74-075 El Paseo
Suite A-9
Palm Desert CA 92260
(760) 341-6502           Jon@DrJonDunn.com