Holiday Health Challenge Tip!

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Posted on 26th November 2011 by admin in Holiday Health Challenge

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In my book Super Health, I said that I believed that in five years glycation might be as well known as oxidation. Now, five years later, few people are aware that as you age your structural proteins are typically being slowly damaged by a process known as glycation, which is another damaging factor of equal standing with free radicals in oxidation and inflammation. To gain a basic understanding of glycation, consider that proteins are formed from amino acids and are essential for life, because they serve two critical roles. First, proteins provide structure for the body, such as collagen, which accounts for approximately one-third of your body’s total protein. It is found in skin, muscles, organs, and vascular structures and provides elasticity and cohesion to these structures. Second, proteins provide function in the form of enzymes that enable all life-sustaining biochemical reactions to occur within your body. Meanwhile, sugar, a simple carbohydrate, provides needed energy for your cells. When properly controlled and running smoothly, proteins and sugars interact without causing damage to the body.

Unfortunately, though, if during this process a sugar molecule (carbohydrate) attaches itself or cross-links with a protein molecule, the result is the formation of a nonfunctioning glycated protein structure called Advanced Glycation End products, or AGEs, which significantly alter the structure and function of proteins. It is ironic that the acronym is AGE, because it really is an accelerated aging process. This process is known as the Maillard or browning reaction and was first noted during the heating of foods in the presence of sugars. AGEs bind to a specific receptor for advanced glycated end products (RAGE), which is located on cells of the immune system (macrophages and T-cells), cells lining the blood vessels (endothelium), and vascular smooth muscle cells. The binding of AGE to the receptor, RAGE, results in damaging effects on those cells.

While AGEs are destructive enough on their own, their interaction with free radicals causes even more havoc in the aging human body. Many researchers suggest that oxidative stress may be involved in AGE formation and that, in a vicious cycle, AGEs may induce even more oxidative stress. In fact, most AGEs that accumulate in proteins are produced under oxidative conditions. As these AGEs and free radicals accumulate in cells and tissues, molecular damage and degradation down to the level of DNA increase, leading to many of the conditions associated with growing old. A growing body of scientific evidence theorizes that AGEs and similar molecules, such as advanced lipoxidation end products, or ALEs (the products of lipids cross-linking with sugars), are significant contributors to many common pathological processes leading to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disorders, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, stroke, visual impairment, and skin disorders.

Because proteins are present throughout the body, it makes sense that the destructive capacity of AGEs is vast. Understanding how to prevent the formation of AGEs is critical to slowing the aging process and reducing the risk for degenerative diseases.

KC Craichy
The Super Health Diet