Live Longer By Changing How You Cook!August 2015
By William Faloon
There is a simple way to protect against disease, lose weight, and extend healthy life span. This method is not new to longtime Life Extension® members. Recent studies, however, mandate that we re-emphasize our food preparation guidelines.
Put simply, when you ingest foods cooked at high temperature, your body is exposed to dangerous levels of mutagens and advanced glycation end products.1,2
Mutagens damage DNA and increase cancer risk. Glycation products damage your body’s proteins which causes tissues to lose functionality and prematurely age.3-5
This article reveals startling findings about the magnitude of toxic glycation products formed in response to various cooking methods. An example of the impact “cooking methods” have on glycation risk can be seen on the adjacent column.1
Foods with high levels of glycation products happen to also have the greatest numbers of mutagens.6,7
The public does not appreciate the damage inflicted by eating high-temperature cooked foods. Since few people consume a “raw food” diet, we’re going to show how one can mitigate the deadly impact of glycation on your body’s living proteins.
In 2003, I described a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that eating foods cooked at high temperature increases the rate at which we age.4 Scientists uncovered back then that ingestion of high-temperature cooked foods results in chronic inflammation and accelerated glycation of our body’s proteins.8
More recent studies confirm these dangers. For example, breast and prostate cancers are sharply increased in those who eat heavily cooked meat such as hamburgers.9-13
When any food is heated to a high temperature (over 300 degrees), chemical changes occur that inflict damage to our cells when we eat that food.14-16
Cooked food contains more advanced glycation end products than raw foods. Be it fat, carbohydrate, or protein, when exposed to high temperatures, toxic compounds form that you don’t want in your body.1
To put this in perspective, a recent study found that men who ate just 1.5 servings or more of processed meat or one or more servings of grilled red meat or well-done red meat a week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 50%.17 Considering that some men eat high-temperature cooked meat every day, is it any wonder that aging men suffer epidemic rates of prostate cancer?
Recall the previous page of this article that shows that pan fried beef registers a toxic 9,052 kilounits of advanced glycation end products per serving.1 This may help explain why heavily cooked beef increases cancer risk.
The number of advanced glycation end products in a serving of bacon comes in higher at 11,905 kilounits.1 If cancer concerns you, I hope the data about more than 500 different foods that we provide at the end of this article will assist you in making healthier food choices.
Shed Fat Pounds By Avoiding High-Temperature Cooked Foods
A fascinating study shows that diabetics who consumed a low-temperature cooked diet lost weight compared to a group that consumed the same numbers of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein cooked at higher temperature. Not only did the low-temperature prepared diet facilitate weight loss, but there were also reductions in blood glucose.8
This six-week study showed that eating the same food cooked at low-temperature reduced glycated LDL by 33%, whereas diabetics consuming the same higher temperature prepared foods increased glycated LDL by 32%.8
Researchers have now identified a compound in overcooked foods that plays a major role in the development of abdominal obesity and its related diseases. The name of the compound is methyl-glyoxal. Mice with sustained exposure to methylglyoxal developed significant abdominal weight gain, early insulin resistance, significant inflammation/oxidation, and type II diabetes.18 Methylglyoxal is a type of advanced glycation end product that is produced when food is cooked with dry heat.19-22
Glycation destroys functioning proteins in the body and induces chronic inflammation, which in turn promotes weight gain.23-27
National Library Of Medicine Studies Describe “Glycation”
If one enters the term “advanced glycation end products” into the National Library of Medicine database, over 8,000 studies came up by mid-May 2015.
This includes studies that describe many diseases associated with glycation.28-31 They also reveal how the deadly effects of advanced glycation end products are related to their ability to promote oxidative stress and inflammation by cross-linking with body proteins, which alters protein structure and function.1,32-35
To understand the significance of this, each one of our typical cells has thousands of different proteins that together enable a cell to function and maintain its structure.36 Our enzymes, hormones, antibodies, neurotransmitters, collagen, and hemoglobin are all examples of molecules that must be protected against glycation reactions.37
The most accurate blood test of glucose control is to measure the percentage of glycated hemoglobin contained in red blood cells (i.e. hemoglobin A1c).38-40 While a glycated hemoglobin percentage up to 5.5% is considered normal,41 once it exceeds 6%, vascular disease incidence skyrockets.42 That tiny percentage increase (>0.5%) of glycated hemoglobin increases risk for diabetic complications,43 yet few doctors try to protect their patients against protein glycation other than by achieving tighter glucose control.
Why Are These Data Overlooked?
The acronym for advanced glycation end products is “AGEs.”1
Diabetics suffer a disproportional higher number of diseases from AGEs because high glucose blood levels are another cause of protein glycation.44
The role of AGEs in disease causation in diabetics and nondiabetics has been sadly overlooked by the medical mainstream, perhaps because there is relatively little they think they can do about it. It was also assumed that AGEs in foods were poorly absorbed. However, studies clearly show that AGEs contained in food are readily absorbed and contribute to formation of toxic advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the body.45-47
The good news is that health-conscious individuals exert a significant amount of control over how quickly their proteins are destroyed by toxic glycation reactions. They can reduce the amount of simple sugars and starches they ingest and minimize their exposure to overcooked foods.
The availability of nutrients like carnosine,48-53 benfotiamine,54-60 and pyridoxal-5-phosphate61-65 represents a significant medical advance because they function as potent anti-glycation agents. This is important because toxic AGEs form within the body as a part of normal metabolism, and even healthy foods contain some level of advanced glycated end products.1
How Food Makers Mislead Consumers
As I was writing this article, I came across a local news story about a restaurant that was opening which was serving only “naturally raised meats” that would be free of genetic modification, antibiotics, hormones, etc. These healthy meats would then be served as “char-cooked” hamburgers and other burnt foods.66
From what you’ve learned so far, this kind of cooking results in the formation of large numbers of AGEs within these foods. In particular, grilling, broiling, roasting, searing, and frying propagate and accelerate AGEs formation in food.1,67,68 Yet some of these terms (such as “grilling”) are used on restaurant menus to imply these are good ways to prepare food.
A wide variety of common foods are exposed to cooking or thermal processing for reasons of protection against microorganisms and convenience, as well as to enhance flavor, color, and appearance. The large amount of AGEs contained in the modern diet is well-documented.8,67,68
Grilled salmon, for instance, is often labeled as a heart healthy choice, yet it contains lots of AGEs compared to microwaved cooked salmon.1
When mice consume diets high in AGEs, their rate of atherosclerosis69 and kidney disease skyrockets.70 Restriction of dietary AGEs prevents vascular and kidney dysfunction70,71 and diabetes,72 improves insulin sensitivity,73,74 and accelerates wound healing in mice.75
Studies in healthy humans show that dietary AGEs directly correlate with markers of oxidative stress.76 Restriction of AGEs in patients with diabetes8 or kidney disease77 as well as in healthy subjects78 reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation.
These findings from animal and human studies suggest that avoidance of AGEs in food helps delay chronic diseases,79 yet processed foods, fast foods, and foods served at even upscale restaurants are laden with AGEs.
Purporting that these foods are healthy to eat is highly misleading. At a minimum, when one has no choice but to consume AGEs-laden or high-glycemic foods, supplementation with anti-glycation nutrients such as carnosine, benfotiamine, and/or pyridoxal-5-phosphate should be considered.
Don’t “Cook” Yourself To Death… Protect Your Genes Against Overcooked Food
It has long been known that heavily cooked foods inflict massive damage to the genes.
A group at the University of Minnesota reported that women who ate overcooked hamburgers had a 50% greater risk of breast cancer than women who ate rare or medium hamburgers. The famous Iowa Women’s Health Study found that women who consistently eat well-done steak, hamburgers, and bacon have a 4.62-fold increased risk of breast cancer than women who consumed these meats rare or medium done.10
Cooking foods at high temperatures causes the formation of gene-mutating heterocyclic amines, which is why deep-fried foods are so dangerous to eat.80 Heterocyclic amines have been linked to prostate, breast, colorectal, esophageal, lung, liver, and other cancers.10,81-91 While health conscious people try to avoid foods that are known carcinogens, even grilled fish contains a potent dose of gene-mutating heterocyclic amines.92
While one can reduce their exposure to cancer-causing heterocyclic amines, it may be impossible to keep them from forming within the body. Enzymatic activities that naturally occur in the liver can inadvertently manufacture heterocyclic amines from otherwise harmless organic compounds.93
Neutralizing Dietary Carcinogens
One of the most important lines of defense against carcinogens consumed in the diet are agents that prevent gene mutation. Many antimutagenic agents have been identified in fruits and vegetables, the most potent being indole-3-carbinol and chlorophyllin.94,95
Life Extension® introduced members to the antimutagenic effects of chlorophyllin back in 1989. The recommendation to supplement with chlorophyllin was based on a study published in the journal Mutation Research96 showing that this plant extract was a highly effective antimutagenic agent.
What impressed us most about the Mutation Research study was that chlorophyllin suppressed the mutagenic activity of carcinogens such as fried pork, diesel emissions, and coal dust by more than 90%!96 We are aware of no other supplement that comes close to chlorophyllin’s ability to inhibit deadly gene mutations. Most Life Extension® members obtain 100 mg of chlorophyllin in a multi-ingredient supplement designed to be taken with the heaviest meal of the day.
The great majority of studies about chlorophyllin’s health benefits concern its antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. Chlorophyllin “traps” heterocyclic hydrocarbon carcinogens by reacting with their “backbone,” making it impossible for them to form adducts with DNA which is a precursor to malignant transformation in cells.97,98
Additional Protection Against Carcinogens
Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.99 When I3C was administered to rodents given cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), the number of tumors was reduced by up to 96%. I3C has been shown to extend the length of the time between exposure to carcinogens and development of tumors by nearly 200%.100
One of the ways I3C protects cells against cancerous changes is by preventing DNA damage.
A study from the Medical College of Ohio shows that I3C can cut the rate of DNA damage from chemicals in several organs by up to 95%.101 I3C significantly decreases DNA damage in white blood cells by up to 81%, the colon by up to 86%, and the liver by up to 72%. This would seem almost unbelievable if it hadn’t been confirmed by others who have shown that I3C can reduce DNA damage in other tissues by similar amounts.102
Based on this plethora of evidence, if one happens to eat overcooked food, it makes sense to take at the same time, 100 mg of chlorophyllin and/or 80 to 240 mg of indole-3-carbinol and other cruciferous vegetables extracts. Most Life Extension® members already obtain these nutrients in supplement formulas they take with meals.
Painstaking Development Of Antiglycating Nutrients
Back in 1998, a growing body of literature pointed to the antiglycation effect of a dipeptide nutrient called carnosine.103-106 The two amino acids that comprise carnosine are L-histidine and beta-alanine.
The problem was that the synthesis of histidine and beta-alanine into carnosine was so complicated and expensive that it was unaffordable to the public. We went to great lengths to enhance this method so that meaningful potencies could be obtained by our members.
Back in those early days, dietary supplement companies sold carnosine in 50 mg capsules. To illustrate how trivial this 50 mg dose is, 248 mg of carnosine (from meat) was given to human subjects. Carnosine levels were detected in the blood and steadily increased. However, within 5.5 hours, no carnosine was detected in the blood. The reason carnosine disappears so quickly is that the carnosinase enzyme quickly degrades it.107
With this study in mind, a dose of 50 mg of carnosine would only be expected to remain in the blood at meaningful levels for around one hour. To achieve near 24-hour protection against toxic glycation reactions in the body, it requires about 500 mg of carnosine to be taken twice a day.
When we launched the first high-potency carnosine supplement in the year 2000, it represented a major advance in enabling aging humans to protect their vital proteins from transforming into toxic advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
New Studies Corroborate Carnosine Health Benefits
Diabetics are the group of people most in need of protection from AGEs.
High blood glucose levels create internal glycation reactions that result in massive protein destruction.108
Recent studies reveal broad-spectrum protection in the diabetic model in response to carnosine or its analogs. Carnosine analogs are being patented for potential approval in the lucrative pharmaceutical (drug) marketplace.109
A 2014 study using carnosine in a mouse diabetic model showed huge reductions in measurements of atherosclerosis. The researchers who conducted this study concluded:
“…prolonged carnosine supplementation enhances plasma levels, and has novel and significant effects on atherosclerotic lesion lipid, collagen and macrophage levels. These data are consistent with greater lesion stability, a key goal in treatment of existing cardiovascular disease. Carnosine supplementation may therefore be of benefit in lowering triglyceride levels and suppressing plaque instability in diabetes-associated atherosclerosis.” 110
No one questions the fact that diabetes results in a state of accelerated formation of AGEs and atherosclerosis.111
Nondiabetics may delay this process, but nonetheless will suffer the adverse effects of AGEs unless they take steps to protect their proteins from transforming into advanced glycation end products.
Practical Anti-Glycation Cooking Changes
Foods cooked at high temperature and low moisture strongly induces formation of deadly AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts).2
Cooking the same foods using lower temperatures, high moisture, and/or pre-exposure to an acidified environment will limit new AGEs formation.2, 68
Regrettably, the toxic effects of high-temperature cooking and food processing are still not accepted health considerations, despite irrefutable evidence we presented more than 12 years ago.
Reducing intake of dietary AGEs can be achieved by increasing the consumption of properly prepared fish, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and by reducing intake of solid fats, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and highly processed foods.
Cooking methods that produce relatively low AGEs levels include poaching, steaming, stewing, and boiling.1 As an example, the high AGE content of broiled chicken can be reduced by at least 80% when the same piece of chicken is boiled.68
The use of acidic marinades, such as lemon juice and vinegar, before cooking also limits AGEs formation in the food.1 These culinary practices are part of Mediterranean, Asian, and other cuisines and can be used to create tasty, easily prepared dishes.
Since most “junk” foods are cooked at extremely high temperatures, it makes sense to avoid french fries, hamburgers, potato chips, fried food, and most snacks. These foods not only contain lots of AGEs, but they also create other metabolic disorders that can induce degenerative disease.
Broad-Spectrum Protection Against Age-Accelerating Glycation
Most Life Extension® members follow a healthy lifestyle that helps prevent glycation and chronic inflammation.
Supplementing with 1,000 mg a day of carnosine,50,52,112 along with benfotiamine (50 to 500 mg per day),113-115 and pyridoxal-5-phosphate (100 to 200 mg per day)53,60,116,117 can further inhibit glycation reactions in the body.
Avoiding foods cooked at high temperature not only reduces pathological glycation processes, but also prevents the formation of gene-mutating toxins that are known carcinogens. When food is cooked at high temperatures, DNA readily mutates.14,118 This results in increased cancer risk.
With overwhelming evidence that overheated food is associated with accelerated aging and cancer, health-conscious individuals have a strong incentive to pay attention to how they prepare their food.
Mainstream doctors should be advising patients on safer ways to cook their food. This message is tragically still not getting out, despite numerous studies published in prestigious scientific journals.
The failure of hurried physicians to inform aging people about the need to protect against toxic AGEs is another reason why consumers need to look out for their own health.
The section after the references to this article lists over 500 common foods and their AGEs content per serving. This list provides practical guidance on what foods are safe, moderately safe and outright deadly.
For additional protection against advanced glycation end products (AGEs), consider daily supplementation of carnosine, benfotiamine and/or pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
For longer life,
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