First Do No Harm

Advanced Glycation End-Products

Glycation or glycosylation is a chemical process by which simple sugars (e.g., glucose) are attached to proteins to form glycoproteins or are attached to lipids (fats) to form glycolipids. Both glycoproteins and glycolipids are found in cell membranes and are needed in energy transfers (to put it simply).

However, in the formation of AGE's, this glycation process is referred to as "non-enzymatic glycosylation."  (GLY-co-sy-LA-shun)

While researching AGE’s, again and again I found nearly the same darn definition: “AGEs are the end-products of glycation reactions, in which a sugar molecule bonds to either a protein or lipid molecule without an enzyme to control the reaction.”

Websites were quite consistent. I especially loved the phrase “without an enzyme” because if the authors of these websites knew what that phrase actually meant, they would have tried to explain the difference between glycation with an enzyme and glycation without an enzyme. So, I went out and found out how they are different and the end products of each process.

Glycation with an enzyme is a normal biochemical reaction with specific purposes.

For example, some proteins, to be used properly by the body have to "fold." Folding means that  nearly two dimensional proteins have to become three dimensional objects for all their parts to be effective at doing what proteins need to do, and so an enzyme comes along and helps it bond (glycoslyation) to a sugar and "fold" into a three dimensional glycoprotein.

Other reasons for this bonding (glycosylation) is for cell to cell adhesion (sticking together) as do immune cells (some immune cells work best when bonded together).

AGE's are created in our bodies when a sugar bonds with proteins or fats without the assistance of an enzyme and what is formed is gunk.

Yes, gunk (I hate to get too technical, but we've got to call a spade a spade).

The result of this glycation (without an enzyme) is glycotoxins (or gunk) that we call AGE’s. These glycotoxins accumulate in your cells and send out chemical signals. The body responds by producing sites of inflammation. In addition, the abnormal protein and/or lipid structures do not regenerate and do not self-repair, so they hang around a long time before the body can clean them up (which is a slow process that, unless we help it along, is never ending).

What this all adds up to is the process of aging and disease.

You see, getting older is not optional. Aging is optional. We all know those people who look younger (or older) than their years.

There are two types of AGE’s, endogenous and exogenous. Endogenous means they are created within our bodies, and exogenous means they are created outside of our bodies. Exogenous AGE’s are found in foods that have been cooked without water and are browned, from crackers to cookies, to meats, and even the crust of breads. Some of these can be avoided, as I will show you later, and some can have the damage they’re associated with lessened by supplementation.

However, it’s the endogenous AGE’s that are the deadliest, especially today with our highly processed diets and that "sugar" that has proliferated throughout the supermarket: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

In our bodies, if too much sugar gets into our blood stream, AGE’s are created. Fructose glycates approximately 10 times faster than glucose. This is just one reason why fructose is so much deadlier than sugar.

In a diabetic whose insulin resistance keeps blood sugar levels higher longer, the formation of AGE’s is a daily occurrence and the effects can be deadly.

AGE’s have a half life that is about twice as long as a normal cell. They gunk up the system and have been connected to cataracts, cardiovascular disease (they damage the endothelial cells in our blood stream leading to atherosclerosis), strokes, cancer, blindness (from damage to the small blood vessels of the eyes), peripheral neuropathy (numbness in limbs), Alzheimer’s disease, and reduced muscle function as we age.

If a person does not have type two diabetes, AGE production in the body can eventually lead to type two diabetes, and then lead to all the other possible diseases listed above.

And, of course, the one thing AGE’s lead to that underpins all of these problems is inflammation.

How to keep AGE’s in your body low:

Diet; it’s all diet. We are what we eat. It is through our diets we get them, so the solution will be modification of our diets.

Low Temp Cooking

When we overcook foods, large amounts of glycotoxins collect in the food. Studies have demonstrated that if we eat these foods, the glycotoxins transfer to our tissues.

All of the recipes we have at this site are examples of low temp cooking. Over cooked meats are deadly. I love a good steak, but I eat them bloody. If you love smoked food, you're going to have to use some of the supplements we list below. 

Avoid Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates

This is the next step. These things spike your blood sugar. Soda pop, french-fries, white bread, all these high glycemic foods that we find everywhere. Oh, and avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s in everything (look at your ketchup bottle). One way to avoided HFCS is to make your own ketchup. We have recipes at this site (because our ketchup recipe uses erythritol, we have placed it in our Weight Loss Recipes).

Eat More Resistant Starches

We’ve talked about them here: Resistant Starches. Next time you make a pasta dish, undercook the pasta by two or three minutes.


We’ve already talked about a few things that keep your blood sugar levels from spiking (or just keep those levels low) such as Svetol®, and Fenugreek.

Cinnamon: You can take a cinnamon capsule prior to eating.

Personally, I take a fenugreek capsule prior to meals. If the meal looks high in starch or high glycemic foods, I will take a cinnamon capsule too, especially if I haven't worked out prior to that meal.

Another supplement I take daily, along with L-Carnitine, is Alpha Lipoic Acid. Along with L-Carnitine, ALA makes your cellular functions more efficient and actually fights insulin resistance, while the L-Carnitine inhibits protein glycation. [“L-Carnitine inhibits protein glycation in vitro and in vivo: evidence for a role in diabetic management,” Rajasekar P, Anuradha CV,Acta Diabetol, 2007; 44(2): 83-90.]

The one spice that fights glycation the most is cumin. Cumin is a part of Mexican cooking and Ayurvedic cooking. I use it in all my stir-fry’s.


One last supplement that has been proven not only to protect us from AGE’s but actually disposes of them when they get into our tissues is L-Carnosine. Take one 500mg capsule with two meals (totaling 1000mg per day).

Sugars: Good & Bad

Agave Nectar ─ is mostly fructose but doesn't raise blood sugar or spike insulin. However, it creates many AGEs and has been linked to liver damage.

Alcohol Sugars ─ xylitol, sorbitol, and erythritol do not raise blood sugar and do not cause AGEs.

Artificial Sweeteners ─ aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, etc., were thought to not raise blood sugar, but recent studies now dispute that. Additionally, the side effects are numerous including weight gain and hunger.

Corn Syrup ─ raises blood sugar and spikes insulin; also creates AGEs. 

Fructose ─ doesn't raise blood sugar or spike insulin, creates very many AGEs and has been linked to liver damage; The most interesting side effect is that you're still hungry after consuming it and it can encourage you to find other sugars to feel full.

Glucose ─ raises blood sugar and spikes insulin  and creates AGEs.

Honey ─ is half fructose and half glucose, raises blood sugar, spikes insulin, creates many AGEs and may damage liver.

HFCS ─ is high fructose corn syrup, raises blood sugar and spikes insulin, creates many AGEs and has been linked to liver damage.

Splenda significantly destroys good bacteria in the gut which can lead to debilitation and weight gain.

Stevia ─ is a sweet protein that doesn't raise blood sugar or create AGEs.

Sucrose ─ raises blood sugar, spikes insulin, creates AGEs, and has been linked to liver damage

Finally, Steaming Veggies

Better than boiling (and I know how we all love to barbecue), steaming is actually one of the best ways to prepare some veggies. Not only will you prevent the creation of exogenous AGE’s, you will boost the free-radical fighting ability of many of your favorite veggies. Yes, I realize this is counter intuitive. One would think that since cooking destroys nutrition that the most nutrition available from our veggies would come to us in their raw form, but take a look at these figures from a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

  • Asparagus: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 205%.

  • Broccoli: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 122-654%.

  • Carrots: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 291%; boiling by 129-159%.

  • Green Cabbage: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 448%.

  • Green Pepper: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 467%.

  • Red Pepper: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 180%.

  • Red Cabbage: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 270%.

  • Tomatoes: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 112-164%.

  • Spinach: Boiling boosts antioxidants by 84-114%.

  • Sweet Potatoes: Steaming boosts antioxidants by 413%.

Editor's Note: every supplement mentioned in this article that is linked (blue and underlined) is linked directly to the product I purchase at the online store from which I purchase it.


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