Are Your Cooking Methods Killing You?

A Must-Read for Those Wanting to AGE Less

The concept of eating to slow down the aging process, enhance longevity, and limit age-related diseases is a central theme of the 7 Systems Plan.

Living longer has much to do with slowing down the aging process. Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are potent compounds that fast-track aging. They connect to various health concerns, including visible signs of skin aging, neurodegenerative disease progression, respiratory complications, type 2 diabetes onset, and cancer development.

Where do these AGEs originate? Is there a threshold for safe consumption? Is it possible for certain foods to reverse or mitigate the damage they cause?

The 7 Systems Plan focuses on nutrient-rich, whole foods and emphasizes reducing processed foods, sugars, and certain fats that can contribute to inflammation, oxidative stress, and the accumulation of AGEs that hasten aging and chronic diseases.

Throughout history, tales of the fountain of youth have symbolized humanity’s deep-seated yearning for eternal youth and vitality. Yet, as we have journeyed through the corridors of time, our quest has evolved from mythical searches to scientific inquiry.

By looking deeper into the science of AGE sources and formation, we can adopt dietary strategies that slow the aging process and fortify our bodies against a plethora of age-related diseases.

What Exactly Are AGEs?

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are damaged molecules from sugars circulating in the blood reacting with proteins, fats, and DNA through a process known as glycation.

Not all AGEs form inside the body; some are already present in the food eaten, especially meat cooked at high temperatures and dry heat, leading to a crispy and browned exterior. Cooking methods like steaming, boiling, baking, and cooking low and slow produce fewer AGEs than the higher-temperature methods like frying, grilling, and broiling.

Although air frying does not use an abundance of oil like deep fat frying does, it does use high temperatures and Teflon coating. It is, however, a better alternative than the other high-temperature methods.

Most whole plant-based foods, even when fried or broiled until brown and crispy, contain compounds that mitigate damage caused by AGEs. Many are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and various phytochemicals that neutralize free radicals contributing to AGE formation and oxidative stress in the body.

Habits like drinking alcohol and smoking can increase the levels of AGEs in the body. Over time, as we age, these AGEs tend to accumulate in tissues and organs, especially if blood sugar levels frequently spike and drop.

AGEs cause wrinkles and brown spots on the top layer and affect how proteins work in the dermis (middle layer) of the skin, leading to numerous problems: decreased elasticity, delayed wound recovery, and inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis.

Collagen (a protein found in our connective tissue, cartilage, bone, and tendons) is one of the structures most easily attacked by AGEs. This is why I replenish my collagen with Dynamic MultiCollagen Renew from NutriDyn.

Foods That Speed Up Aging

Are you curious about what foods contribute to faster aging? Let’s explore the main culprits to minimize their intake for a healthier, longer life.

Meat: A Prime Source of AGEs

In many diets, meat is a significant source of AGEs. Reactions between sugars and the proteins in meat during processing or through marinades and high-temperature cooking methods, like grilling or broiling, increase AGE production, creating harmful substances such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), both linked to cancer risk.

We are attracted to the appealing appearance and flavor of well-cooked meat, despite its AGE content. It is easy for our enjoyment of these harmful foods to overshadow the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and the long-term health impacts of AGEs.

Fried Foods and Cooking Oil

Frying food enhances flavor but raises AGE levels. This is true particularly when food establishments reuse cooking oils. This repeated use allows the oil to become saturated with AGEs, which infuse into the cooking foods. The challenges and cost of frequently changing large quantities of oil mean many kitchens do so infrequently, increasing AGE content in fried foods.

Omega-6 Fats

These are found in corn, soy, and other seed oils and become even more harmful when brought to high temperatures.

Cheese

Aged cheeses, especially hard varieties, are high in AGEs due to the combination of pasteurization, aging, and the presence of natural fats and sugars in dairy. Together, these factors create a perfect storm for AGE production.

Processed and Packaged Foods

The convenience of processed and packaged foods comes with a hidden price: high levels of AGEs. These foods often undergo high-temperature production to enhance flavor and extend shelf life, significantly boosting their AGE content.

Sugary Foods

High-sugar foods, including sweets, pastries, and sugary drinks, are strong promoters of glycation, leading to increased AGE formation. The role of sugary diets in metabolic disturbances is well-documented, with high-fructose corn syrup and other high-fructose sweeteners being particularly guilty. Interestingly, despite their sugar content, whole fruits tend to be protective against AGE related damage thanks to their high fiber content.

The Impact of AGEs: A Spectrum of Diseases

The ramifications of AGE accumulation are a pressing threat touching every facet of health. Their ability to trigger inflammatory responses and interfere with normal cellular functions underscores the urgency of limiting their harmful influence. They are known to contribute to:

  • Premature aging
  • Impaired respiratory function
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

Combating AGE Forming Foods

We need to limit the harmful dietary sources of AGEs, but we also need to defend against them by including the following from the 7 Systems Plan:

1. Plant-Based Foods

  • Fruits and Vegetables – A colorful variety provides antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that combat oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Whole Grains – Rich in fiber, these support digestive health and help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Legumes -This group includes beans, lentils, and peas for plant-based protein and fiber.

2. Healthy Fats

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Found in fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel (not king mackerel), organic virgin coconut oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, and Omega Pure EPA/DHA. Omega-3s are crucial for heart health and brain function.
  • Monounsaturated Fat – Avocados, nuts, olives, and olive oil provide heart-healthy fats that support overall health.

3. Lean Protein

  • Plant-based Protein – This source supports metabolic health while minimizing the intake of saturated and omega-6 fats.
  • Lean Animal Protein – Appropriately prepared lean meat preserves muscle tissue that naturally decreases as we age.

5. Water

  • Hydration – The body requires consistent, plentiful water intake for all bodily functions, including cellular health, digestion, and skin elasticity.
  • Filtered water – This is crucial to limiting heavy metals and chemical toxicity.

6. Antioxidant-Rich Foods

  • Berries – They provide important antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage, help combat inflammation, boost the immune system, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Dark chocolate – 80% dark chocolate can benefit your brain and heart health, reduce inflammation, combat oxidative stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Nuts – These plant-based proteins boast antioxidant benefits, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and heart-healthy fats that protect against cellular damage.
  • Green tea – It contains caffeine, a stimulant that boosts mood, energy levels, reaction time, and memory.

7. Foods High in Polyphenols

  • Turmeric – Curcumin is the biologically active compound in turmeric associated with anti-inflammatory properties and fights cancer, diabetes, viral and bacterial infection, and diarrhea.
  • Vegetables – Veggies are rich in polyphenols, which reduce inflammation and support brain health.

The Antidote to AGEs

Adopting a whole food, mostly plant-based diet as taught in the 7 Systems Plan, is a potent strategy against AGEs. It minimizes exposure to AGEs and equips the body with antioxidants and phytonutrients to combat oxidative stress and inflammation. The emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods, coupled with cooking methods that preserve their nutritional integrity, forms a comprehensive defense strategy against the aging effects of AGEs.

In doing so, we embrace a lifestyle that promotes vitality and longevity, turning the mythical quest for the fountain of youth into a tangible, achievable reality.

For your health,

Dr. Pat

Video of the Week

Recipe of the Week

Teresa’s 7 Systems Kitchen

Coco Bites

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (from Thrive Market)

Instructions:

  1. Melt coconut oil using a glass container in a hot water bath. (Do not microwave.)

2.  For the water bath: Heat 1-2 inches of water in a small saucepan. Add coconut oil to a glass container and place it in the saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until just melted.

3.  Add Fruits & Greens and mix well.

4.  Pour into a mold. I use a silicone candy mold.

5.  Add 1/4 teaspoon Almond Butter to the center of each bite.

6.  Freeze or refrigerate for 20 minutes.

I recommend storing the Coco Bites in the refrigerator or freezer between servings.

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Dr. Pat Luse

I'm the president and CEO of one of the largest multi-disciplinary clinics in the Midwest. As one of the most highly trained health coaches in America today, I am uniquely qualified to help individuals have amazing health transformations and I can't wait to help you!

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