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Each of us contains tens of billions of miles of DNA—enough for 100,000 round-trips to the moon were each strand uncoiled and placed end to end. How does our body keep it all from getting tangled up? Our DNA is neatly wrapped around spool-like proteins by sirtuins, enzymes that appear to be involved in promoting healthy aging and longevity. Autopsy studies show the loss of sirtuin activity may be closely associated with the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease—namely, the accumulation of plaques and tangles in the brain. Suppression of this key host defense is considered a central feature of Alzheimer’s. Is there a way to prevent this suppression from happening? Perhaps—by reducing our dietary exposure to advanced glycation end products, or AGEs.

AGE is an appropriate acronym, as they are considered “gerontotoxins”—that is, aging toxins (from the Greek geros, meaning “old age,” as in “geriatric”). AGEs are thought to accelerate the aging process by cross-linking proteins together, causing tissue stiffness, oxidative stress, and inflammation, and may play a role in cataract formation and macular degeneration in the eye, as well as damage to the bones, heart, kidneys, and liver. They may also impact the brain, appearing to accelerate the slow shrinkage of our brain as we age and suppressing our sirtuin defenses.

Older adults with high AGE levels appear to suffer an accelerated loss of cognitive function over time. Elevated levels of AGEs are also found in the brains of Alzheimer’s victims. Where do AGEs coming from? Some are produced and detoxified naturally in our body, but other than cigarette smoke, major sources seem to be meat and meat-derived products exposed to dry-heat cooking methods. AGEs are formed primarily when fat- and protein-rich foods are exposed to high temperatures.

More than 500 foods were tested for AGE content, and the top five most AGE-contaminated products per serving tested were BBQ chicken, followed by bacon, broiled hot dog, roasted chicken thigh, and roasted chicken leg.

Meat averages about 20 times more AGEs than highly processed foods like breakfast cereals and about 150 times more than fresh fruits and vegetables. Poultry was the worst, containing about 20 percent more AGEs than beef. The researchers concluded that even a modest reduction in meat intake could realistically cut daily AGE intake in half. Because sirtuin suppression is both preventable and reversible by AGE reduction, avoiding high-AGE foods is seen as potentially offering a new strategy to combat the Alzheimer’s epidemic.

All Videos for Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs)

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