July 5

What you need to know about AGEs

Culinary Nutrition, Healthy Eating, Healthy Habits


AGEs, advanced glycation end products, can cause inflammation and contribute to various chronic diseases. The body produces AGEs naturally, but they can also be produced through cooking methods like grilling, frying, and roasting. 

While it is important to select healthy ingredients, how you prepare them is also important for health. Today’s topic may make you rethink how you cook (or don't cook!) your meals, i.e., more salads and less flame-roasted burgers! (Sorry, all you grill fanatics out there.)

AGEs - what are they and why they matter

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" which are gooey, disease-promoting substances that can build up in your body because of the foods you eat and how you prepare them.

AGEs form when proteins and fats combine with sugars during cooking. These compounds can damage tissues and contribute to the development of chronic diseases. The body produces AGEs naturally, but they can also be produced through cooking methods like grilling, frying, and roasting. Processed foods also tend to be high in AGEs.

Exposure to AGEs has been linked to an increased risk of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell damage. These effects can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

AGEs - why dietary choices matter

Studies have shown that consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are antioxidants found in plants, may help reduce cell damage caused by AGEs.

Modern diets are often high in processed foods with higher levels of AGEs, so limiting your intake of these foods is important. Some foods that are high in AGEs include:

  • Highly processed foods
  • Foods with added sugars
  • Fried Foods
  • Meats like Hot dogs, Bacon, and Sausages
  • Cheeses
  • Foods with refined oils
  • Margarine and certain mayonnaise
  • Foods cooked at high, dry heat (i.e. grilled or roasted)

Complex carbohydrate-rich foods tend to be lower in AGEs, even after cooking.  
Foods that are lower in AGEs include:

  • Whole grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables

AGEs - strategies to limit their effects

While the formation of AGEs is part of normal metabolism, excessive amounts may be harmful.

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, especially processed foods
  • Use moist cooking methods when possible, for example, steaming, poaching, stewing, or braising
  • Don’t char or overcook your food
  • Use shorter cooking times or lower temperatures whenever possible
  • Include acidic ingredients in your diet, such as lemon juice and vinegar, which can inhibit the formation of AGEs
  • Exercise, being active, and ensuring you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night can also help keep your levels down.

In addition, there is evidence that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome may contribute to lower levels of circulating AGEs. This is because gut bacteria can degrade AGEs during the digestive process. Consuming a diet rich in probiotic foods such as fermented foods [kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir] and taking a probiotic supplement can support a healthy gut microbiome.

AGEs - limit exposure for better health

Reducing your exposure to AGEs is a good way to support your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic disease. By making simple changes to the way you cook and eat, you can help protect your health in the long term by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.

"The current dAGE database demonstrates that a significantly reduced intake of dAGEs can be achieved by increasing the consumption of fish, legumes, low-fat milk products, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and by reducing intake of solid fats, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and highly processed foods."[PMC 2013]

This recommendation is consistent with those from the American Heart Association, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the American Diabetes Association. Thus, following a diet lower in AGEs can naturally reduce your risk for several chronic diseases.

Now that you know what advanced glycation end products are and strategies to reduce your exposure, you can use them to help manage the impact of these compounds.

Need support to best implement these dietary and lifestyle habits into your life in the safest and most effective way? Book a clarity call and let's talk!  

Mrs. Dornberg

About the author

Cheryl Dornberg, NBC-HWC, is a national board-certified health & wellness coach and culinary nutrition expert who is passionate about using the power of food to achieve optimal health and increase longevity. She specializes in motivating and empowering individuals to create sustainable & consistent dietary and lifestyle habits that support the management and prevention of chronic health conditions, increase longevity, and improve overall quality of life.


AGEs, Culinary Nutrition, Food is Medicine, healthy cooking, Open Content

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