Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed when sugar reacts with proteins or lipids (fats) in a process called glycation (1).
Research shows that some AGE formation occurs when blood glucose levels are over 85 mg/dl. Higher blood glucose levels result in more AGE formation (2).
AGEs are also be ingested in the foods we eat.
HIGH AGE FOODS INCREASE INFLAMMATION
A diet high in AGE compounds has been shown to cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body (3).
In some circumstances, AGEs are involved in a vicious cycle of inflammation, generation of ROS, amplified production of AGEs, more inflammation in a vicious repeating cycle (4).
This can result in significant increase in insulin resistance and diabetes (5)
Regardless of the increased blood sugar and diabetes risk, chronic Inflammation by itself has been shown to damage every organ in the body, and contribute to aging ( 6).
AGEs are formed throughout our lives, gradually adding to our burden of oxidative stress, inflammation, and tissue dysfunction—and ultimately to our cumulative risk of serious chronic age-related diseases.
HIGH AGE LEVELS HAVE MANY NEGATIVE HEALTH IMPACTS
Excessive levels of AGE compounds has been implicated in many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, kidney failure and high blood pressure, among others (7, 8, 9, 10).
High glucose levels encourage glycation of structural and functional proteins including plasma proteins and collagen (11).
Elevated blood serum AGE levels increase stiffness of arteries and hypertension (12).
Protein glycation reactions leading to AGEs are thought to be the major causes of different diabetic complications [13,14], cataracts , atherosclerosis , diabetic nephropathy , and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease .
Glycation of certain proteins such as albumin, fibrinogen and globulins may produce particularily negative results including alteration in drug binding in the plasma, platelet activation, ROS, impaired fibrinolysis and immune system function (Fig. 1) [15,18].
In a recent study of 559 older women it was found that high levels of AGE’s were 2 times more likely to die from heart disease (19).
A different study of obese individuals found those with metabolic syndrome had much higher levels of AGE’s in the blood than others who were obese but did not have metabolic syndrome (20).
In another study, women with polycystic ovary syndrome were found to have higher levels of AGEs in their body(21).
Bottom Line: AGEs build up and cause oxidate stress and inflammation, damages organs, and increase risk for most chronic health problems
LOW AGE DIET REDUCES INFLAMMATION & INSULIN RESISTANCE
Although the main source of circulating and tissue AGEs is endogenous production, AGE compounds ingested in the diet also contribute to total serum AGE levels (29).
Results of studies in animal models and humans show that the restriction of dietary AGEs can lower circulating AGE levels up to 53%, and has positive effects on wound healing, insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases (30, 31, 32, 33, 34).
More recently it has been reported that restriction in AGEs consumption as part of food increases the lifespan in animal models (35).
Those in the control group consumed the same amount of calories with similar macro-nutrition profile (carb/protein/fats), yet had higher insulin resistance and inflammation levels (40).
In this 2016 study of 61 obese people with metabolic syndrome, the half that ate a diet low in AGEs had reduced insulin resistance, lower AGE levels, less inflammation and even a little weight loss.
Mice fed a diet high in AGEs developed Insulin resistance at 18 months as opposed to control group at 24 months. A third group of mice fed a similar diet, but restricted AGEs, did not develop Insulin resistance until 36 months on average (41).
Bottom Line: A low AGE diet can lower your inflammation levels, Insulin Resistance and blood glucose levels – and lower risk of diabetes.
Cooking of foods contribute to AGEs
AGEs are found in all meat protein and fats, but how they are cooked has the biggest impact in AGE levels.
Cooking with moist heat such as steaming or stewing help keep AGE levels much lower (44).
Also, cooking with vinegar, tomato, lemon, or other acidic juices can lower AGE by 50% (45).
Bottom Line: Cooking can dramatically increase AGE levels in foods, especially animal meats over high heats.
So How Much Is Too Much?
Clearly, AGE intake does have an impact on health but as yet there is not recommended maximum levels (46).
The average diet in New York city has about 15,000 AGE kilo per day (46).
For reference anything over this amount is said to be high-AGE, with anything below that amount being low-AGE
Below are some examples of AGE levels found in some common foods (46):
- 1 fried egg: 1,240 kU/l
- 1 scrambled egg: 75 kU/l
- 2 ounces (57 grams) of toasted bagel: 100 kU/l
- 2 ounces of fresh bagel: 60 kU/l
- 1 tablespoon of cream: 325 kU/l
- ¼ cup (59 ml) of whole milk: 3 kU/l
- 3 ounces of grilled chicken: 5,200 kU/l
- 3 ounces of poached chicken: 1,000 kU/l
- 3 ounces of french fries: 690 kU/l
- 3 ounces of baked potato: 70 kU/l
- 3 ounces (85 grams) of broiled steak: 6,600 kU/l
- 3 ounces of braised beef: 2,200 kU/l
Bottom Line: If you regularly cook foods at high temperatures or consume large amounts of processed foods, your AGE levels are probably too high.
Supplements to lower AGE levels
Quercetin, Vitamin C, lutelin, rutin, and other antioxidants have been shown to lower AGE levels in human testing (48).
In vitro, a large and growing list of antioxidants have been shown to prevent glycation of albumin. Some of these are niaciniamide, sodium selenite, pyridoxal, trolox, selenium yeast, zinc, manganese, riboflavin,ginger, cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon and ascorbic acid (51).
In mice, green tea, vitamin E, vitamin C, and a combination of N-acetylcystein, taurine and oxerutin help prevent skin collagen glycation (52).
Doctors in Europe for decades have prescribed Benfotiamine, a fat soluble form of vitamin B1, for diabetic patients.
Benfotiamine slows the formation of AGEs by blocking the signal pathways to help prevent complications such as blindness, heart attack, loss of limbs, kidney failure (53).
Middle aged women in one study were able to lower AGE levels by 23% (33).
High AGE levels, whether produced internally or consumed in the diet can have a very significant negative impact on your health.
Exercise and lower blood glucose levels can minimize AGE formation within your body.
Relatively simple modifications to your diet can lower your AGE levels and have a positive impact on health and longevity.