Glycation: (sometimes called non-enzymatic glycosylation) is the result of typically covalent bonding of a protein or lipid molecule with a sugar molecule, such as fructose or glucose, without the controlling action of an enzyme. All blood sugars are reducing molecules. – Wikipedia
Say what? In other words, glycation is when a sugar molecule binds with protein or fat, without the direction of enzymes, and this binding changes the structure of the protein or lipid molecule. It’s kind of like Sandy hooking up with Danny in Grease. Good girl is attracted to bad boy, and drama ensues. They chose to change to make it work, and it ended OK. But in the world of glycation, these “hook-ups” lead to advanced glycation end-products, or AGE’s.
AGE’s are literally what age us. They contribute to the breakdown and eventual death of our cells. Atherosclerosis is caused by plaque building up in arteries, and that AGE plaque is comprised of LDL molecules that have bonded with sugar and have become small and dense. The beta-amaloid plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s are AGE’s too. AGE’s are a natural part of metabolism, and we can not completely eradicate them. (Although science is trying!) But we can take steps to lower the amounts produced, and the amounts ingested, so as to try to decrease the overall AGE load in our bodies.
Here’s are 10 tips to help you do just that…
1. Do Not Consume Processed Fructose
High Fructose Corn Syrup. Even if you’re not quite sure why you shouldn’t eat it, you are probably at least vaguely aware that you should avoid it. This stuff should never have become part of the human diet. Of all the sugars, fructose is the worst culprit of glycation. Fructose is the type of sugar found in fruit, but usually when you have a piece of fruit the sugar content is fairly low (in comparison), plus there are benefits like fiber and nutrients. Just straight high fructose corn syrup is bad news, and is HIGHLY glycating.
2. Seriously Restrict Added Sugar Consumption
The World Health Organization recently came out with a recommendation that people should consume no more that 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added sugar per day for optimal health benefits. The average adult in America eats 22 teaspoons a day, the average child 32 teaspoons a day. First, why are kids (and their sensitive, growing systems) eating more sugar than adults???!? But truly, the more sugar you dump into your system, the more sugar you have hanging out in your body, just ready to try and become buddy buddy with your cells.
3. Cook Meat at Lower Temps
And, cook with moist heat if possible. The dryer and higher the temperature, the faster AGE’s will be formed in the meat you’re cooking. That delicious crust that forms when grilling, roasting or pan frying a piece of meat is actually a delicious, crunchy blanket of AGE’s. If you’re always cooking meat at high temps (like grilling a lot), consider prepping your meat with a moist heat method a few times a week.
4. Marinate Meat in Lemon Juice or Vinegar Prior to Cooking
A lower PH value (acidic) helps to stop the glycation process, so marinating meat in a lemon juice or vinegar marinade for an hour prior to cooking can reduce the amount of AGE’s formed. Store bought sugary marinades don’t count. One of my favorite marinades for steak is simply balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh garlic. Delish!
5. Consume Raw Foods
Since heat hastens the formation of advanced glycation end-products, try to work some raw foods into your diet. Think sushi and meats cooked on the rarer side. Also, eat raw nuts when you can, and when possible just lightly steam your veggies. The closer to it’s natural state, the more nutrient dense most foods will be, and the less AGE’s they’ll contain.
6. Eat Your Fruits & Veggies
Speaking of veggies, you already know you should be eating them. The vitamins and minerals found in fruits and veggies work synergistically with our bodies to clear the junk out. Unless you have a sensitivity to a certain fruit or vegetable, it’s never going to hurt to consume more of them. Plus, when you add more produce, you eat less of the other processed stuff.
7. Avoid Products That Use AGE’s to Enhance Flavor
Brown might be good when it comes to UPS, but it’s not necessarily good when it comes to food. Browning enhances the flavor of foods, but skyrockets the AGE content. Golden brown french fries and onion rings (deep fried anything), a nice brown crust on the outside of a pork chop, the browned underside of baked goods, the brown color of cola, that browning that makes crackers extra crisp. All AGE’s my friend.
8. Consider Supplementing with B Vitamins
There are a few B Vitamin forms that actually arrest the glycation process, namely benfotiamine and pyridoxamine. Benfotiamine is a synthetic derivative of thiamine, and in small clinical trials has been shown to lower AGE’s and improve diabetic neuropathy. Pyridoxamine is a form of vitamin B6, and has also been shown to inhibit glycation.
Before supplementing with vitamins you should consult your doctor, and do your research on whether or not there are any contraindications with any other meds or treatments you’re currently using. Also, if you take a multi, take a look at the listing to see if either of these B’s are included in it.
9. Get Good Sleep
You already know how important good sleep is. Sleep is when our body clears house, gathering and filtering out all the waste from the days processes. And sleep is when our bodies try to clear AGE’s, so deep, restorative sleep is crucial. If you don’t get good sleep, there are some steps you can try and take that might help. Limit blue light in the evening. Supplement with magnesium in the evening. Keep your gut biome balanced, and feed the good bacteria with prebiotic fiber. Some people have also reported better sleep when supplementing with the above mentioned B vitamins.
We all know exercise is good for us. But most people think of exercise in terms of weight loss. After all, we are a vain species, and want to look good. But one benefit of exercise that most of us don’t think about is autophagy, the process by which our body breaks down degraded cells (well hello AGE’s) and recycles parts for energy use in other cells. In other words, cannibalism! But in this case it’s a good thing, and exercise stimulates this process in our bodies.
Unfortunately there’s no panacea for the glycation process in the body, but with a few simple tweaks, you can easily lower the advanced glycation end-product load in your body.