Coming up on this episode of the Doctor’s Farmacy…
Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you grill your food, if it’s fried food, if it’s toasted to a high heat, it can lead to these advanced glycation end products. Microwaving, disaster. Don’t cook in the microwave.
Welcome to Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s Farmacy with an F, and a place for conversations that matter. And if you’re interested in how to stay healthy for a long time, how to be young forever, today we’re going to talk about an important component of that strategy, which is to address one of the key hallmarks of aging known as proteostasis. That’s a big mouthful word, but basically it means damaged proteins.
So as we age, the proteins which are used for structural processes in our body for building things, for communication, basically, it’s the information super highway of our body. And when our proteins don’t work, we don’t work. They have to be formed properly, they have to be the right three-dimensional structure, the right number of amino acids. They have to not be oxidized or damaged or twisted or funky. And what happens as we get older, we get more funky proteins. So the question is what causes them and how do we deal with them? And today, we’re just going to go deep on one of these aspects of the hallmarks of aging called proteostasis, which is damaged proteins.
So, probably listening to me, you’ve been pretty aware about my focus on longevity and healthy aging, but I haven’t really talked that much about this phenomemon of proteostasis, and why you need to be aware of something that is called AGES. A-G-E-S. Which is a great acronym because these things age you. And the medical term for them, this A-G-E-S or AGES is advanced glycation end products. And we’re going to talk all about them. What they’re… You probably not ever heard of them, but they’re really important and they’re screwing you up big time even if you never heard of it. So these are compounds that form in our body under all sorts of conditions from poor diet to stress to various insults and toxins. And they also can come from our food, depending on how we cook our food that we can actually consume them.
And what’s interesting, they bind to receptors that are called RAGES are R-A-G-E-S. Receptors for advanced glycation and products. So, these funny acronyms, right? So aging or AGES cause raging and that leads to inflammation throughout the body. So, these advanced glycation end products drive inflammation, which is also one of the key hallmarks of aging or inflammaging. And they’ve been linked to everything from heart disease to diabetes to all sorts of health issues.
So, let’s talk about the science of ages and what you can do to protect yourself. So, what are they? Well, they’re problems that happen when we are consuming particularly a lot of sugar and processed food. And we have other things in our environment that cause oxidation like toxins. It causes the formation of proteins and sugars to combine in the body. So, you’ve got sugars and carbohydrates and proteins in all your cells, and then they combine in ways that cause damage. So, it’s a non-enzymatic reaction that basically happens when groups of amino acids and proteins and sugars connect together.
Now, you probably are familiar with this because it’s what happens when you get a crust on a loaf of bread, or you get the crispy skin on a chicken, or you get that little crispy crust on the creme brulee, where they basically cause damage to the proteins and the sugars and it forms this crispy crust from the sugars and the proteins in the creme brulee. And so you get this yummy stuff to eat, but that actually causes a lot of problem in the body. So, when basic proteins and our sugars combine together, they create this process called glycation.
And if you grill your food, if it’s fried food, if it’s toasted to a high heat, it can lead to these advanced glycation end products. Microwaving, disaster don’t cook in the microwave. Causes a lot of these advanced glycation end products. So even if you think you’re eating healthy, if you’re actually eating a lot of the crispy stuff or the overcooked stuff or burnt stuff, that’s really bad.
So, what happens is when you have a high blood sugar… This is the most common reason. You have a high blood sugar, which by the way, 93% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy, meaning they have some form of prediabetes or type two diabetes, they have imbalances in their blood sugar. When you have that, that excess blood sugar binds to proteins.
Now, the one we are familiar with that you’ve all heard probably heard about is hemoglobin A1C. Hemoglobin A1C essentially means glycated hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is in your red cells that is involved in carrying oxygen. And then if it’s too much blood sugar, it gloms onto those and forms these advanced glycation end products. And we measure that in the blood as hemoglobin A1C. And the higher hemoglobin A1C, the worse your diabetes is. So indirect measure of your average blood sugar. So, we’ve known about this for a long time. But even if we don’t have high blood sugar and if we don’t have a high A1C, we can actually still get advanced glycation end products from cooking things in the wrong way. So, whether you have the grilling or crispy cooking or frying or things like that, all that browning stuff is a sign of advanced glycation end products. Also, processed food has a lot of stuff, so you want to stay away from processed food.
So, why are they so bad? Well, they basically create this vicious cycle of inflammation which increases more advanced glycation end products and creates a vicious cycle. Now, they also found not only to be correlated with inflammation, but also linked to real serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s. They’re basically toxic molecules, and then they create more oxidative stress or reactive oxygen species. They kill cells, they cause organ damage, they damage your mitochondria, which you need for optimal functioning in health. Basically, they’re the worst things for your longevity and for your health span. So, now doctors are starting to pay attention to this and there’s some really simple things you can do from a lifestyle perspective to reduce your advanced glycation end product formation in your body and also your exposure from your diet.
First is not surprising, cut down sugar and starch. I know you get sick of me saying this, but it is the central thing that’s driving most diseases. People eat a lot of sugar and starch. They tend to have higher blood sugar, they have more a higher A1C. So your A1C should be probably between five and five and a half. It starts to go over five and a half, it’s a sign you’re getting into trouble. And some people say even lower is better, like five or 5.2. I like mine around five, 5.1, 2. I don’t like it higher than that.
Now, balancing your blood sugar is key, and I’ve written a lot about this. The 10-Day Detox Diet is a great roadmap for how to do that. We’ll link to that in the show notes, but it’s basically a sugar detox book. It’s basically how do you deal with the sugar addiction? How do you reset your palate? How do you reset your hormones? How do you reset your brain chemistry and your biology so you actually don’t want as much sugar in starch and you can actually eat in a more balanced way and not be consuming these foods? So, really important.
Get lots of natural antioxidants. So, things that are in food, all the phytochemicals, curcumin, green tea, quercetin from things like onions and garlic, Himalayan Tartary buckwheat. All that helps to reduce the AGES and their problems. So, lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, lots of herbs and spices, really important. Also, olive oil is important. Olive leaf extract is a great source of antioxidants that inhibits AGES. It’s also atherogenic prevention, prevents heart attacks and plaque. It’s anti-inflammatory, it’s anti-cancer, protects your brain. And so I always use a ton of olive oil. You can actually take extracts of olive oil. [inaudible 00:08:29] lupine is a powerful longevity compound. That’s why a lot of the blue zones, they all eat a lot of olive oil. And it can help the microbiome as well. I love it because also a polyphenol that the gut bacteria love and can reduce inflammation that way and can slow down AGES.
Don’t eat the deep-fried foods, don’t have foods coated in sugar like barbecue sauce. Don’t have heavily grilled foods, charred foods. Get away from all that stuff and that will help reduce your intake of AGES. So if you want to have them once in a while, fine, but try more slow, low, slow, moist cooking methods. Also, being able to actually use marinades can help offset that. So, if you’re having grilled meat, for example, marinated in things with vinegar or lemon or things that are acidic and spices, which will reduce the effect of that.
Also, exercise is amazing. Studies have shown that regular movement exercise also helps to reduce AGES. And lastly, any steps you take to reduce inflammation and overall health will be helpful. So, all the things we talk about. Getting healthy diet, exercise, adequate sleep, stress reduction, the right supplements, all help you to actually reduce overall inflammation and live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, which we’ve talked a lot about on the podcast. And that’ll help reduce your AGES as well.
So make sure if you don’t want to age, don’t activate your AGES, which will cause raging in your body of inflammation and that is not good. So, this has hopefully been helpful to you. It’s a little deep sciencey stuff, but I think it’s important to understand why we need to do the things we do, like why we need to not eat so much sugar and starch, why we should be avoiding all the crispy fried stuff that we might like, but is doesn’t like us. And as a friend of mine said, you want to eat food that you love and that loves you back. So, make sure you do that.
On a final note, please know that going to the occasional barbecue isn’t going to be the worst thing in the world for you, but don’t make it a habit, right? Basically, predominantly eat right and then occasionally cheat, it’s fine, but make sure you are not doing this on a regular basis. So, that’s it for today’s Health Bite. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Let us know how you can and have learned to turn down your inflammation. We’d love to hear from you. Subscribe wherever you get your podcast and we’ll see you next week on the Doctor’s Farmacy.
Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.