The term AGEs has come up in some interesting posts, but I don't really know what they are. Can anyone define for a non-scientist? .
"Glycation" is a chemical reaction when a sugar binds to a lipid (fat) or a protein.
Advanced glycation end products are the results of a glycation reaction. That it, the thing that's formed when a protein or fat binds to the sugar.
The problem with AGEs is that it's an irreversible reaction. So in your body proteins (chains of amino acids) are in charge of everything. They form structures and work in signaling, and tons of other stuff, basically just about everything. So when sugar binds (irreversibly) to a protein, it destroys the protein and it can no longer to its job.
The glycation reaction is a pretty slow reaction, so it doesn't happen too often. But if you have chronically high sugar levels in your blood, then you have lots of opportunity for the reaction to happen. So that's one reason it's bad to have high sugar because it increases the rate at which AGEs form.
If AGEs form on in your red blood cells then they can no longer carry oxygen (A1c is a measure of this glycation). AGEs in your cornea result in cataracts.
A great analogy that I heard (forget from where) that you can think of glycation as making caramel out or a sugar and a protein. You make this ugly stick useless crap in you. And often the AGEs are "stuck" where they're formed, that is your body has a really hard time removing them from your system.
Here is a great very recent podcast from Superhumanradio dealing specifically with AGEs:
I have heard from many in the paleosphere that exogenous ages are not really to be feared, assuming that we have evolved cooking foods and so can internally deal with them. Endogenous AGEs, on the other hand, seem to be a problem.
My understanding is that there is a well-known glycation product: triglyceride - the 'bad' stuff in a standard blood test including LDL and HDL. Isn't this correct? They are formed when the liver can't keep up with the input of glucose, so starts throwing it as quickly as possible into little packages of three glucose molecules attached to a lipid, and dumping it into the blood stream...
AGEs bind to a receptor leading to production of inflammatory factors and oxidant species, including free radicals. The latter attacks lipids and proteins such as in LDL particles. These are ingested by macrophages, which migrate into arterial tissue (“foam cells”) and promote thickening and thus atherosclerosis. The formation of exogenous (AGEs) and oxidation products generated during cooking may be a confounding factor that some studies may not have controlled for.
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