Aging and Longevity – 3. Glycation
Glycation is one of four key process which lead to aging by damaging cells. Addressing these four issues reduces aging.
What Is Glycation?
Glycation is a process where sugar and protein molecules combine to form a tangled mess of tissue. Glycated tissue is tough and inflexible, leading to wrinkling not only of the skin, but also of important internal organs. Furthermore, glycated tissues then produce Aged Glycation End-products [AGEs], which further compound the problem by producing large numbers of damaging free radicals.
All in all, glycation is a nightmare process which degrades important body tissues. It must be dramatically reduced if aging is to be minimized.
What Problems Does Glycation Cause?
Glycation causes tough, wrinkled connective tissue. This is most visible on the skin as wrinkles. However, it occurs all through the body. Tough, inelastic connective tissue is very damaging to organs where flexibility is vital. This is especially important in the heart, kidneys, brain, eyes and pancreas.
The lack of flexibility in the important organs leads to reduced functionality and early death. The reason diabetics suffer from organ ailments earlier than most people is that their raised blood sugar level produce greater glycation.
How Can We Reduce Glycation?
Glycation cannot be stopped completely; neither can it be reversed, currently. However, it can be reduced considerably by making changes in lifestyle and diet.
There are two main causes of glycation;
- High blood glucose level, and
- Eating foods cooked at high temperatures – over 250°F (110°C, oven gas mark 1½)
1. High Blood Glucose
Continually high blood glucose promotes glycation, as well as other aging processes and degenerative diseases. If glycation is to be reduced, then so must the intake of sugar from the diet.
Sugar in the Diet
Dietary sugar comes from the obvious sugary sources – including honey and maple syrup – but it also comes from starchy food, many of which are close to 100% sugar, when they are broken down in the body.
These high sugar foods include potatoes, Rice, pasta, and all grains, including bread.
To reduce glycation, all these foods should be reduced to a minimum. This is most easily done by cutting them out of the diet when eating at home, and eating minimal amounts when visiting or eating out.
As a further guide, Kurzweil and Grossman (Fantastic Voyage, 2004 edition p57) suggests that a person 160 pounds [72 kg, 10 stone] should probably be limiting their total carbohydrate (= sugar + starches) intake to between 90-180g (3-6 oz). This will be derived mainly from sources such as vegetables, beans and small amounts of fruit, rather than the usual starch sources – potatoes, bread, pasta and rice.
2. Food Cooked At High Temperature
High temperature cooking produces glycation which, when eaten, causes glycation in our own tissues.
Food cooked at a temperature above 250°F promotes glycation. Do not barbecue, fry, grill, roast, [or broil]. Eat plenty of raw food in salads, and use slow cooking, steaming, simmering and stewing to prepare food.
Ideally, make sure all the food you eat is prepared in this way. Practically, only eat foods cooked at high temperatures on rare occasions, such as when visiting friends.
Glycation Is Crucial To Aging
Although carnosine can be used to help reduce glycation:
… it is best to reduce the process to a minimum using the above measures. Once tissue has become glycated there is no known way to reverse it, so it is best to reduce glycation as soon as possible.
However, taking carnosine in addition will only help, according to today’s evidence.
By using the above methods to help address glycation. You will age more healthily. By reducing blood glucose, you will be helping the body in various other ways too, by reducing the chance of developing heart and artery disease and certain cancers.
When eating out, it’s a fairly simple matter to choose foods which follow these guidelines. “Salad-and-something” is an option which is often available; or order a protein choice such as braised fish or chicken plus mixed vegetables – hold the potatoes.
As in all things, don’t strain too much to get 100%. But doing 95% of all you can to avoid glycation is great. It will reduce your aging significantly. Oh – and it will certainly help reduce the amount your skin wrinkles.
Living A Long And Healthy Life
The evidence is strong that glycation is closely involved in most if not all degenerative diseases and in aging. Dealing with this and the three other ‘-ations’ – methylation, oxidation and inflammation– should be a priority for anyone concerned with living a fulfilling life with minimal illness.