What to Know About AGEs

And the foods to avoid

By Missi Balison

Healthy Foods

Today’s topic may make you rethink how you cook your meals, i.e., more salads and less flame-roasted burgers!


It has to do with a gooey, disease-promoting substance that can build up in your body because of 1) the foods you eat and 2) how you prepare them.


Here’s a visual: Picture your grill after you’ve just finished cooking. You know all those sticky bits that glue themselves to the surface? Those bits are like the advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) or “glycotoxins” that can build up in your system.


AGEs are linked with premature aging, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure, heart disease, high blood sugar, and more. They can form when a protein or fat combines with sugar in your bloodstream. They also can form in foods that have been exposed to high temperatures (grilling, frying, roasting, etc.). AGEs cause oxidative stress and inflammation in your body. The good news is that you have some built-in ways to get rid of AGEs, but … if you eat too many of them—or too many form inside of you—your body can have a hard time keeping up.


A quick list of foods high in AGEs:


• Highly processed foods

• Foods with added sugars

• Fried foods

• Meats

• Cheeses

• Fried eggs

• Butter

• Foods with refined oils

• Margarine and mayonnaise

• Foods cooked at high, dry heat


Here’s how to help slow them down from forming in your body:


• Eat a whole-foods-based diet that includes legumes, vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed grains.

• Avoid eating high AGE foods when possible.

• Cook in liquids when possible, for example, steaming, poaching or stewing. And if you’re not cooking in liquid, try to still use it whenever possible (example: braising)

• Don’t char your food or over-cook it!

• Exercise and being active can help keep your levels down, as well as sleeping seven to nine hours every night.


Knowledge is power—and taking steps to avoid AGEs now can help you take more control over your health into the future.


Missi Balison, owner of Missi Balison Fitness in Sandpoint, Idaho, is a personal trainer, exercise physiologist and Certified Precision Nutrition coach.


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