I’m lucky enough to have a gifted practitioner as a Dad. The times I was with him, my half sisters and brother and Lindy, he used to cook the best macro biotic foods, I chowed down on Chinese herbs and trace minerals as a nipper.
His insight and gift as a healer have helped thousands of people fix their lives over the years. I’ll be interviewing him soon for an article.
Looking around me now his words are still echoing in my mind – trace minerals and hormonal deficiency…. Now we’re really in the midst of that epidemic, and they could see it coming even back then.
Thing is the minerals (and B-vits) help handle the sugar. Zinc, B3, chromium, glucose tolerance factor. Without them the sugar does the damage…. It doesn’t just make you fat (in the presence of a calorie surplus). It also glycates…..and it ages you.
Today I want to talk to you about Glycation……what is that? What does it do? How can you bio hack glycation to improve tissue quality and injury proof yourself through the foods you select to eat and the supplements you choose to buy.
Simply put glycation occurs when a sugar combines with a protein or fat forming an advanced glycation end product (AGE’s) for short. Aptly named cause they literally do age you faster.
They are sometimes called glycotoxins and are formed through the browning of food or the Maillardreaction.
If you are wondering what that might do think about sugar causing damage to collagen in skin, this would over time lead to faster wrinkling of the skin and cross linkage of proteins which reduce the structure, form and function of the collagen.
I was first interesting in this area when I was searching for reasons sugar might lead to increased tendon and soft tissue injury.
It was a hunch based on observing many athletes with high sugar intake and high incidence of soft tissue injury’s (non-contact) and tendinopathy type problems. Typically these guys were spending more time n the physio couch than on the pitch where they wanted to be.
Back then a lot of people even other nutritionists used to poo-poo this but now we can see that the more recent science is there to back up what we ‘know’ and see in the field.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28336820
Interestingly this maybe why the combination of bioflavonoids plus collagen is better for increasing tissue quality than just using collagen on its own. The additional of omega 3 fats into this matrix maybe the key to enhancing tissue quality alongside the right kind of training and conditioning.
It turns out both sugar consumption and the consumption of pre-formed AGE’s through cooking can increase the presence of these molecules in the blood and then integration into tissues. Unfortunately the browning process when you grill or barbecue meats is a quick way to increase these molecule (don’t worry though there’s hope – read on). Grilling meats particularly in a sweet sauce pre forms AGE’s. There’s a list of these in a couple of articles which I’ve posted links below, but here’s a simple list for you to look at quickly.
Remember the higher the heat and the lower the water content – generally the higher the AGE’s – although highly heated meats and fats also contain heterocyclic amines. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meat, including beef, pork, fish, or poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame
The worst offenders; just scanning through this list will show you;
That when you heat meats they score higher, in fact bacon in a frying pan without oil is basically the highest. However margarine is also really, really high. Another reason to hate it and get that stuff the hell out of your kitchen (all types to be safe).
Crispy duck is a poor contender – making the tactical switch I was going to make from curry to Chinese recent a poor overall choice. I’d have cut my spices, which protect against glycation and increased my AGE’s…..the plum sauce offers some antioxidants but also plenty of sugar.
It’s worth mentioned that you can increase AGE’s both externally and the body can also make its own glycation worse. There’s genes which dictate whether you are prone to glycation. Unfortunately I have one of these. This makes a lower sugar intake, particularly fructose an important thing for me. Also fasting becomes more necessary as well to keep the system clean and less glycation prone in general.
In the skin AGE’s can cause wrinkles and make cellulite worse
Inside the body AGE’s can increase vascular stiffness – arterial stiffness which progresses heart disease and stroke
In the brain these can increase cross linkage of amyloid plague can also cause vascular dementia
In the muscles and tendons this can increase stiffness and lack of flexibility and reduced function
They can increase insulin resistance
The cooking methods of meat which increase AGE’s are also associated with increase cancer risk due to HCAs and PAH’s see above
They can increase inflammation
We get them from eating highly heated foods, a high sugar intake and also by burning foods e.g. char grilling.
We can prevent them from forming (luckily) by using one of my favourite methods of food preparation the marinade. Indeed a simple rosemary, lemon and garlic marinade reduced subsequent AGE’s formed through grilling by almost 70% according to one study.
Cutting to the quick….. Answers on the back of a post card please.
Things you can do to lower AGE’s
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet, there’s a description of this in the brochure – it’s also a Mediterranean diet which is naturally low in AGE’s.
- Reduce glycemic load generally by eating a lower carb higher fibre and fat diet. You can see how to do that in the last chart in the charts and useful links section of this article.
- Avoid excess fructose.
- If you eat honey get the darkest honey possible this contains factors which protect against glycation, note honey is 100% fructose.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Avoid margarine at all costs – it really is a shit food.
- Avoid highly heated foods with little moisture.
- Avoid deep fried foods which contain both rancid and damaged fats (lipid peroxides) along with increasing the AGE’s of whatever is fried in there.
- Avoid fast food restaurants.
- Always marinade your meats before cooking. A good hour in something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar plus some spices and herbs really, really helps – tastes better too.
- Protect your cells with high levels of polyphenols.
- Drink green tea. Drink lemon balm tea. Just drink lots of antioxidant teas basically.
- Take quercetinand eat quercetin rich foods.
- Look up and use anti-glycation supplements some of the best ones include alpha lipoic acid, carnosine (beta alanine) B1 + benfotamine (a fat soluble B1 which protects against brain glycation). I use life extension benfotamine.
- Use temperature stable oils (and don’t heat them) with antioxidant benefits, olive oil, avocado oil, pumpkin seed oil and black cumin oil are good choices.
- Get your HBA1C checked this is a marker of glycosylated haemoglobin aka – indicate sugar levels over the last 6 or so weeks.
- Aminos like taurine and arginine are good ones – these help with glycation also arterial stiffness. You’ll find these in metabolic amino complex.
- Drink coffee – about 2 strong cps and day the drink a water washed decaf after that.
- Use turmeric and supplement with curcumin.
- Take astaxanthin. This is good for eye and kidney protection along with lutein and zanthin. These occur in things like spinach and other green leafy vegetables.
- Drink yerbe mate.
- Eat oily fish, omega 3 works with all anti-inflammatory foods listed above in synergy.
- Use medicinal mushrooms like Reishi.
- Take adaptogens regularly, particularly withania somnifera aka Ashwaganda.
- Fermented foods at least some of them like vinegar also offer protection.
- Use citric acid – this may also help performance if taken pre-training.
- Zinc, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E are also important protectors of the glycation effect a very high quality multi vitamin should cover these in adequate levels.