This study reports on a high level of food toxins called Advanced Glycation End-products in infants. AGE’s can come into the body from outside (exogenous) by heating food or can be formed in the body through a chemical reaction (endogenous).
AGEs have been implicated in a number of aging conditions like Alzheimers, stroke and cardiovascular disease and are pro-inflammatory affecting many different types of cells in the body. They can cause damage to the cells lining the blood vessels, the lymphatics and the heart. They are believed to play a causative role in the vascular complications of diabetes and diabetics have higher levels of AGEs. It is thought that high levels of AGEs in children could predispose to diabetes and insulin resistance in later life. AGEs are toxic by-products of sugars/lipids/proteins formed by a variety of mechanisms and are found in most heated foods. Approximately 10% of ingested AGEs are absorbed into the circulation and two thirds of those are retained.
The researchers in this study found that high levels could be introduced into infants given formula that has been processed under high heat and that these could contain 100 times more AGEs than breast milk. After switching from breast to formula milk the AGE levels doubled to those seen in diabetics and many had elevated insulin levels. More research is required but they have suggested that given the rise in diabetes in children that AGE-less approaches to children’s diet should be considered.
This report from 2006 provides a more detailed review of AGEs in diabetes. A further report in Diabetes Care July 2011 also reports that a modest cut in foods high in AGEs may improve insulin resistance in adults with diabetes. AGEs were found to be elevated in most grilled, fried or baked foods. Cutting back on heat-processed foods without altering fat or carbohydrate consumption improved insulin levels.The diabetics on the AGE restricted diet had 35% decrease in blood insulin levels. This was associated with improved markers of inflammation and help restore the bodies defences.
The researchers comment that importantly the study exposes the double role food AGEs play in obesity and diabetes and given the epidemic of diabesity currently in the world it is worth paying attention to. Dietary restriction of AGEs can reduce vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis. Roasting, frying and broiling can increase AGEs and it is thought to be better to use steaming, boiling, poaching or stewing. Fish, fruit and vegetables are low in AGEs and high levels AGEs are found in high processed foods, high fat/protein cooked at high temps, high levels of sugar/fructose foods. Sugar is perhaps not so sweet!