The Revolutionary Low-AGE Diet
New and additional wisdom calls for avoiding high fat meats, deep-fried foods, and fast foods. Now it's all about avoiding advanced glycoxidation end products (AGEs), which are the new nutritional bad boys because they are pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidant compounds. In his research, Jaime Uribarri, MD, a nephrologist and professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, has seen evidence of AGEs contributing to impairment and injury of the cells lining our blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and heart. And it doesn’t take long for this dangerous action to take place—damage can begin to occur within just two hours after a meal high in AGEs. The truly troubling part of this story is that most Americans are constantly ingesting meals and snacks with a high level of AGEs.
What's the remedy? We must start eating the low-AGE way. Dr. Uribarri believes dietary AGEs are crucial factors contributing to disease and that it is time people start paying attention to the subject. AGEs have been associated with numerous diabetes and kidney complications as well as with Alzheimer's disease. The more AGEs we eat, the more are circulating in our body, causing big problems. Animal research has shown that a reduction in circulating AGEs leads to a reduction in the progression of two key diseases: atherosclerosis and diabetes.
Eight Things You Need to Know About Eating the Low-AGE Way!
If you want to start eating the low-AGE way and reduce unwanted inflammation and oxidation in your body, here are eight things you need to know:
- Foods rich in both fat and protein that are cooked at high heat and dry heat (grilling, frying, broiling) tend to have the highest amounts of AGE (possibly from high levels of free radicals being released during the oxidation of certain fats).
- Sources high in AGE include full-fat cheeses, higher-fat meats, and highly processed foods.
- Foods low in AGE include fish, whole grains, low fat milk products, fruits, and vegetables.
- High-heat cooking and dry heat cooking promotes the formation of AGEs via glycoxidation and lipoxidation.
- Changing your cooking methods—for instance, stewing instead of frying chicken—can cut your AGE intake by more than 50%.
- Low fat, carbohydrate-rich foods, such as starches, fruits, vegetables, and low fat milk, tend to be relatively low in AGEs.
- Several food-processing techniques promote glycoxidation. Commercially prepared breakfast foods and snacks (e.g., frozen waffles, Rice Krispies) seem to have significant amounts of AGE.
- Using a marinade with an acid ingredient such as lemon or vinegar lowers the AGEs in grilled meat.
Results in a Month!
According to Dr. Uribarri, the health benefits of a low-AGE diet start in two to four weeks, and these changes have been reported in research. The ideal amount of change and further health benefits for the body accrue over a slightly longer period. For example, over time, the low-AGE diet may improve insulin resistance, an outcome that has been observed in animals.
What Positive Change Might Occur with a Low-AGE Diet?
Reducing circulating AGE levels results in similar reductions in circulating C-reactive protein (CRP) level, a marker of inflammation in the body. A low-AGE diet will also likely confer beneficial changes related to diabetes and prediabetes. "I do believe that over the long term, a low-AGE diet also makes you lose weight when maintaining the same calorie intake," says Uribarri.
Expect improvements in risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, with the bonus of weight loss or easier weight maintenance over time. Can’t beat those benefits! Stay tuned in months to come for more information on the low-AGE diet.
Published August 15, 2008
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
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