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Advanced glycation end products, cleverly referred to as AGEs, are formed in the body as a result of elevated blood sugar and are found in certain foods consumed in the diet. They are major avoidable contributors of oxidative stress, the main mechanism of inflammation and aging. Oxidative stress over
your lifetime causes the breakdown of collagen, muscles, blood vessel damage everywhere in the body, bone and brain matter. In fact, excess blood sugar, insulin and cortisol cause permanent damage to the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible from memory, a condition called Type 3 diabetes, but it
best known as dementia. Having excellent blood sugar control and low inflammation reduces your risk of dementia and well as being anti-aging.
If you can reduce and control the amount of oxidative stress produced in your body, you control your rate of aging and inflammation. Some of the major oxidative species in the body are hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) that white blood cells produce to kill microbes and reactive nitrogen species (ROS) like
peroxynitrate (ONOO) when detoxification systems get overwhelmed by poor diets, toxin exposure and stress. Processed foods and fried foods have the highest AGEs content. Vegetables and fruits have the lowest content of AGEs.
Dry, high temperature cooking methods produce more AGEs than moist heat at lower temps like steaming, braising, poaching, boiling and sous vide. Adding acids like citrus juice or vinegar decreases AGEs production up to 50%, as does reducing cooking time, and cooking on ceramic versus metal or cast iron. Slower cooker methods are considered the best way to reduce the formation of AGEs in cooked foods. Glutathione, selenium, zinc, manganese and riboflavin are some of the nutrients required to quench reactive oxygen species. Digestive enzymes enhance the chemical breakdown of foods, helping
bloating, heart burn and other common GI problems and reduce the allergenicity of foods, thus reducing overall inflammation. Even superfoods- those with a high nutrient content in few calories like broccoli or spinach- can be a potential food allergy or sensitivity and can cause more harm than good when they aren’t fully digested. Healthy fats like monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) from olive oil and avocado oil and Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) from flax oil, salmon, mackerel, sardine and anchovy oils all reduce inflammation because the body uses them preferably to arachidonic acid that is made by the body from omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids come from processed vegetable oils like canola, soy, corn, safflower and cottonseed oils and non-grass fed/non-wild animal fats. Diets void of processed foods, that are high in vegetables, moderate protein and fats from olive, avocado, grapeseed, sesame and coconut drastically reduce the production of AGEs and help control
blood sugar. Cabbage family vegetables like arugula, kale, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collard greens, cabbage, turnips are anti-aging as well as spinach, beet root and tops, chard, red/yellow/orange bell peppers, mushrooms, sweet potato and yams, dark berries, raw or sprouted nuts (not roasted),onions, garlic, leeks. Neutral vegetables, that is, they aren’t “bad” but either don’t have much nutrient content, contain a lot of sugar or are very common food allergens, are lettuces, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots. Corn, potatoes, peas and beans don’t contain many micronutrients and are mostly starch or contain lectins that are inflammatory for most people.
Proper digestion is key to taking the carefully selected nutrients you’ve chosen in put into your body to convert them into something helpful versus being harmful. Stress dramatically suppresses digestion so it is critical to employ stress reducing activities in your life, particularly around the ceremony of eating and using digestive support as needed. Taking the time to stop, slow down and sit down and create a calm space to eat is a challenge for many is our fast-paced lives, but needs to be a priority to prevent your food from becoming your enemy. Suppressed digestion from stress and acid blocking medications causes foods to be absorbed in bigger molecular pieces than they are meant to be. This causes a reaction in the immune cells surrounding the gut that tags these partially digested foods as “non-self”
and mounts an inflammatory response to them causing a wide range of symptoms including indigestion, bowel irregularity, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort, acid reflux, asthma, arthritis, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, headaches, migraines, muscle pain, eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, colitis, diverticulitis, chronic sinus congestion to name just a few.
Getting out in nature regularly, regular exercise, positive social interaction, meditation and having pets are all scientifically proven methods of reducing stress. Focusing your diet on plenty of fresh, organic, whole superfoods, lots of MUFAs and PUFAs and moderate proteins cooked at moist lower temps for only as long as necessary, avoiding inflammatory fats and your individual food sensitivities and allergies, exercising regularly, getting out in nature,
wearing sunscreen and reducing stress in your life is the most foundational way to reducing the speed of aging, promote disease resistance, overall well-being and glowing health from the inside, out.