Many people don’t realize the influence AGEs have on the normal aging process. They’re only periodically discussed and often overlooked, but they can have significant effects on how the hands of time play a role in your appearance and overall health. What are AGEs? Find out for yourself.
They’re called AGEs. That’s an acronym for Advanced Glycation Endproducts. They’re aptly named, too, because they have lots to do with the process of aging—oftentimes accelerating the process.
AGEs are sugar-derived substances that form in the body even before a person is born and slowly accumulate over a lifetime. Acceleration of AGEs occurs when the body is exposed to increased sugar levels, resulting in what’s termed glycation. Glycation happens when a glucose molecule attaches itself to a protein molecule, forming a non-functioning structure in the body. These non-functioning structures then destroy the body’s proteins—wreaking havoc throughout the body.
The truth is that AGEs have the ability to negatively alter the structure and function of proteins and other macronutrients at the cellular level in the body. This can lead to unhealthy oxidation and inflammation levels that can have systemic effects on the body, including its internal organs and muscles as well as the skin.
For skin, AGEs and free radicals contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin—giving telltale signs of what AGEs are doing inwardly. In short, AGEs are the bad guys that can result in degrading health, including accelerated aging. We keep adding fuel to the AGE fire, however, with our modern diet and other lifestyle factors.
Food processing, especially heating, can increase the effects of glycation and oxidation in foods. What’s more is that food manufacturers have been adding synthetic AGEs to our foods for taste purposes—which has added up to increased AGEs in our foods in the past 50 years.
In fact, approximately 10% of AGEs we ingest is absorbed with food. Animal studies indicate a direct correlation between dietary AGE intake and degrading health effects.
On the upside, however, dietary AGE restriction can result in improvement. Dietary suggestions from this study were to increase intake of fresh foods—briefly cooked—that are full of taste and nutrients. A diet like this is said to significantly decrease AGE intake and to reduce circulating AGEs within a month’s time.
Other foods to enjoy include protein-rich foods such as milk, omega-3 eggs, cheese, poultry and beef (grass-fed, of course). They contain a naturally occurring amino acid called carnosine, which is believed to support healthy cell membranes in the body.
In short, there’s just no way to sugar coat the effects of AGEs and glycation because there’s nothing sweet about them.