Are you one of those people who prefer meat to legumes? Or do you fry your egg rather than steaming or poaching it? And do you love your salads with added cheese rather than yoghurt? If you are even one of these, beware! Such preferences constantly increase the AGEs content in your body.
AGEs or Advanced Glycation End Products are formed after a complex process when proteins or lipids react with sugar and result in a glycated end product known as AGEs. This reaction is commonly known as the Maillard reaction. AGEs are normal by-products of metabolism but uncurbed levels of AGEs possess several threats to the entire body. Not only are they produced by our body, but also present in foods we consume. In addition, the level of AGEs also depends on the way the food has been cooked. Unaware of its consequences, the majority of people overlook the food and its way of cooking, ultimately proliferating their intake of AGEs.
There has been a lot of deliberation since quite a few years, on the contribution of AGEs to premature skin aging. Our most abundant yet sensitive organ, the skin is highly affected by our diet. AGEs, produced by our body, and through consumed food, accumulate in the inner layers of skin. Such invasion of glycated products accelerates skin aging as it affects the cardiovascular system and tissues of the skin.
In addition, AGE-rich diets worsen conditions such as atherosclerosis (build up of fat or cholesterol in blood vessels), liver diseases, heart diseases and high blood pressure. Studies have also proved that people with diabetes produce AGEs at a greater rate. Since the kidneys are a major junction for getting rid of AGEs, high levels of AGEs might get accumulated in the kidneys and this may lead to several renal issues like glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. Besides, excessive AGEs also lead to oxidative stress and inflammation of body tissues. It also affects the neurological system, with researchers proving occurrence of Alzheimer’s more frequent in people who consume more of this nasty product.
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The majority of AGEs present in our body is obtained through our diet, rather than body metabolism. Hence, our diet plays the key role in case high levels of AGEs are found to linger in our body. Foods rich in AGEs are
- Proteinaceous foods : Highest levels of AGEs are found in all types of red meat. Chicken, eggs and fishes have comparatively much lower levels. This is the reason why heart and hypertension patients are referred to abstain from red meat.
- Dairy products : AGEs content is maximum in cheese and least in toned milk and yoghurt. Dairy products when concentrated with milk fat, raises the AGEs content. Hence one should abstain from the consumption of heavy dairy products like cream, cheese and butter and go for leaner options.
- Processed food : Packaged and processed foods are found to have soaring level of AGEs. The treatment of food through various processes and synthetic fats tend to raise the level of glycated products.
- Grains : Rice, wheat, oats are extremely healthy options with very low AGEs content. Yet, after their processing into biscuits, crackers or bars, there is an alarming rise in AGEs.
- Fats : Animal fats are known to have much higher AGEs than plat fat. Hence, one should go for veggies rather than meat, to complete the daily fat intake.
Another extremely important thing on which the AGEs content of our food depends is the cooking procedure. When food is cooked at high temperatures, the AGEs content may rise up to 10 times. It is known than fried chicken contains about 6 times more AGEs content than boiled chicken. It is preferable to cook using water-based techniques like steaming, poaching or boiling, rather than oil or fat-based techniques like frying and grilling. Even a lean piece of food might become loaded with AGEs if one does not pay attention to the cooking procedure. This is the reason why majority of people eat healthy food, yet consume a lot of AGEs.
Hence, the best way to reduce the intake of AGEs is to go for more vegan options in your diet since they have a comparatively much lower level of AGEs content. One should always cook food slowly, at low temperatures and mostly abstain from fried and packaged food. Consumption of antioxidant foods like spinach, blueberries and fresh salads along with good physical activities daily, reduce the production of AGEs in our body. This not only keeps the cardiovascular, renal, neurological and immune system healthy, but also prevents premature aging, which is one of the most discussed affects of AGEs.
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