The "AGE"-ing You've Never Heard Of – Part 1

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted October 12, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

Advanced glycation end (AGEs) products are products of chemical reactions between sugar molecules and protein or fat molecules. This process is called the Maillard Reaction, named after French chemist Louis Camille Maillard who discovered it in 1910 while working on food chemistry. Maillard's work shows how sugar can brown and add flavor to cookies and breads, but it can also produce some very harmful compounds that studies show contribute to age-related diseases. AGEs is a general term that describes a number of compounds which result from this reaction.

The Maillard Reaction showed how amino acids react with reducing sugars at elevated temperatures. AGEs are formed when these sugars become covalently bonded to proteins or lipid compounds without the controlling action of an enzyme. AGEs are found in all organisms and foods, but their concentration increases with cooking time and temperature. AGEs work in the human body by reacting with DNA and RNA. AGEs form a complex series of reactions, which result in cross-linking AGEs to proteins. This reaction is not optimal as it increases AGEs' ability to bind with AGE receptors in tissues. AGE additively increases the concentration of AGE receptor sites, resulting in an increase in AGE-mediated signal transduction between cells. This process is exacerbated by the fact that glucose also enhances AGE formation.

Thus, it is believed that AGE stimulation of AGE receptors results in the human body moving from a homeostatic AGE receptor activity to AGE-mediated AGE receptor dysregulation. Homeostatic AGE receptor activity refers to a state in which a certain concentration of AGE receptor sites is present and a certain level of glucose is present, resulting in a specific amount of signal transduction between cells.

AGE-mediated AGE receptor dysregulation refers to a situation where an increased concentration of AGE receptors results in an increased number of signals being transmitted between cells. Maintaining homeostatic AGE receptor activity is essential for cellular regulation (the process in which cells replicate, proliferate, and grow) and homeostatic function in healthy adults. 

How Are We Exposed to AGEs?

Now that we know what AGEs are, let's go over how we are exposed to them. 

Modern diets are largely heat-processed and, as a result, contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs can be found in everyday consumables such as food products, but the main source of these products is from cooking and processing methods. Cooking at high temperatures changes some of the sugars to AGEs. 

AGEs occur when sugars and proteins (in the case of food) come together in a process called glycation. These two substances can also interact with environmental factors such as UV radiation, oxidative stress, pollution, and smoking to form AGEs. AGEs are created through AGE-receptor interactions with AGEs found within foods, resulting in AGE-receptor dysregulation. AGE-receptor dysregulation refers to the processes which AGEs effect on AGE-receptor activity.

This interaction occurs by the body's normal metabolic process, which is different than the glycation process. However, when excessively high levels of AGEs are reached in tissues this becomes harmful to the body...

Here is something else very harmful to the body.

And when cooked at high temperatures, it becomes even more toxic!

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ