AGE-ing accelerated by Food?
AGE = Advanced Glycation End (products).
What do you think of when you see or hear the word ageing? Old people? dying? wrinkles? nursing homes? Denial?
I always thought that ageing was something that happened to other people, more accurately; people OLDER than me. I was somehow immune to it. I truly believed that it wasn’t happening to me until the other day when I mentioned that so and so was around the same age as me. To that my friend replied, ‘No, they are 28’. ‘Yeah’ I said, ‘I know, similar age to us!’…. She said; ‘Lis, you are almost 32’…. I just aged 3 years.
Since then I haven’t given ageing much more thought, until earlier this week.
Some of you know that I work for a large complementary supplement company in Australia as a product developer. And as part of that role I often get the chance to meet with people who are experts in many health related fields. On Monday this week i meet a professor who is literally an expert on AGE(ing).
Lets talk Advanced Glycation End products. (I’ll try not to get to techie here)
These little suckers are the bodies markers or indicators in how we age. It is basically a (chemical) reaction between a protein and a sugar being modified inside our body. When these two things connect and ‘modify’ they turn brown and go somewhat hard and crusty. Hence the term ‘Old and crusty’. Nice huh!
These reactions occur all over your body every minute of every day and can be accelerated by other factors such as stress, alcohol, smoking and excessive sugar. Good news is our body has another super power called; AGE-receptors. The good receptors swoop in and assist in removing the AGEp from the body. Phew right? Well, sort of.
As we age by years our ability to clean this up reduces and we get a lot more modification of proteins and sugars in our body, which results in a hardening and browning of cells. This is a perfectly normal process of life, however it can be impacted by a few external factors.
So what does this have to do with food?
I mentioned browning before. Thats the link here. We see this above reaction all the time in food, its often what makes it taste, smell and look better i.e. like when we witness our food turn a delicious golden brown colour when heated.
Cooking steak on the BBQ gives it grill marks; this is from a reaction between protein and sugars in response to heat – chefs call it caramelisation. You now know it as AGEp.
But don’t stress this AGE-ing process can be slowed and reduced by small alterations in your diet.
Raw is our best answer to avoid ingesting more age promoting factors, but that isn’t everyones cup of tea. So here are some tips to help us minimise and slow our AGEing:
- Avoid burnt foods – this applies to everything from burnt toast to the last lamb chop. You can cut the burnt edges off your food if it happens, its better than nothing.
- Cook with humidity; use water methods. poaching, steaming, boiling. Have you ever seen a poached egg with burnt edges? No – water keeps the AGEp reactions away.
- Oils -cook ONLY with Coconut oil or Ghee (clarified butter). Many other common oils are unstable in high temps which cause them to alter their chemical structure and go rancid, not good. Gentle heat can be used for olive oil, but no stir-frying or grilling. you can stir-fry with water.
- Onion and garlic contain a chemical compound called allithiamines. These contain the vitamin B1 or thiamine which helps reduce the AGEp formation in our body.
- Potatoes, broccoli, sweet potato and carrots contain a natural substance called Alpha-lipoic acid, which can prevent AGE modification.
This might be a bit on the heaver side of ‘the whole-food truth’, but it is a truth that we are currently avoiding. Granted it is much more sexy (and tasty) to have a flame-grilled BBQ chicken than a poached drumstick. I don’t ask you to do away with your hotplates and woks for a totally raw food existence, I just want to bring your awareness to some new science that may help keep us from crusting over before our time. No matter how smart we get, we still haven’t found a way to stop ageing, but at least we can help hold it off for as long as possible.
I do urge you to do more investigation in AGEp and as i find out more I will continue to keep you all informed.