Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) and Sugar Overconsumption of sugar is a well-known health problem, but most don’t realize how serious it can be. Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are a combination of sugars and protein that combine to form a worthless, inflammatory foreign substance that accelerates degenerative disease. The excess of sugar in the body leads to an attack on many of the body’s cells and proteins. This danger seems to get little press, perhaps because it only came to light in the late 1980s. AGEs are a crosslink or linkage of a sugar molecule and a protein. There may be cross-linking with lipoproteins, which contain fat in addition to protein. Here’s the problem with AGEs, they cause:
- Cardiovascular problems by hardening with blood vessel linings, thereby increasing the rate of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke
- Skin problems due to binding to the collagen (fiber) and increasing wrinkles and less elasticity of the skin.
- Eye problems caused by clouding and hardening of the lens
- Kidney problems caused by disruption of the nephrons, which filter out waste in the kidneys.
- Nerve transmission problems caused by signal conduction disruption due to the resistance generated by AGEs on nerve tissue.
- Cognitive decline because they cause inflammation in brain tissue and impede neurotransmission.
- Overload of the immune system, especially the macrophages
AGEs are foreign irritants to the body and need to be treated. It’s up to the macrophages (Pac-Man type of white blood cells), which are equipped with special AGE receptors, to deal with the evildoers. Macrophages do take out these AGEs, but it can become a costly drain on immune system resources. Macrophages are leaders in most immune responses, and their reduced numbers may not be good for immune system health.
There are many reports of excess sugar consumption, but most conclude that US citizens consume between 139 pounds and 159 pounds per person per year. Michael Cutler, MD reports that the latest statistic is 170 pounds per person per year.
It sounds unbelievable and hard to believe, but the food industry adds sugar to literally everything. They have learned that sweets always sell better. You name it…catsup, salad dressing, soup, all packaged foods…virtually all have added sugars.
One of the biggest and most important contributors to excessive sugar consumption is soda. Most sodas contain 8 to 12 teaspoons of sugar. Many fruit juices sold at the grocery store add water and contain sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
There are different forms of sugar, even found in natural foods. The table sugar that everyone knows contains two sugar molecules, glucose and one fructose molecule.
It used to be thought that fructose (fruit sugar) was better for you. Unfortunately, when separated from the other metabolites found in fruit, it is far more harmful to health.
Usually, fructose (in fruits) is accompanied by bioflavonoids and polyphenols, which are great antioxidants; they counteract oxidative damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. There are also vitamins, minerals, catalysts and God knows what else that supports the fructose metabolism. Fructose is less concentrated in fruit.
When fructose is separated from these helpful ingredients, there is a 10-fold (1000%) increase in the accumulation of AGEs. There is compelling evidence that pure fructose, such as that found in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), along with glucose, is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in our western world.
The body is not designed to deal with such high levels of sugar, which are separated and stripped of other helpful metabolites. Why is concentrated fructose like that found in HFCS so harmful? The simple answer is that it is linked to health destruction through:
- Damage to fructose metabolism
- Driving Diabetes II
- arteriosclerosis, heart disease and stroke
- Association with increasing obesity
- Increased inflammatory uric acid
- Increased gout
dr Joseph Mercola, ND has one of the most credible, cutting edge health blogs on the web. He says this about fructose, it:
- Increases insulin resistance
- Increases high blood pressure
- Increases triglycerides
- Increases cardiovascular disease…heart attack and stroke
- Increases nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Is linked to increased cancer
- Increases arthritis and is highly correlated with obesity and weight gain
To put fructose consumption in perspective, 100 years ago, 15 grams per person per day was being consumed. Today the estimate is 73 grams per person per day. That’s almost a fivefold increase.
Widespread use of HFCS became prevalent during the 1970’s. HFCS is 20% sweeter and cheaper than table sugar. This means that the food industry will favor its use because of the bottom line profits. Fifty-five percent of all sugar sweeteners used in the food industry are HFCS.
As well as driving obesity, fructose is now closely linked to the number one cause of death in the US. These are cardiovascular diseases. It is associated with high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
The excess sugar in the blood and elsewhere in the body saturates every tissue it comes in contact with, creating inflammation and generating advanced glycation end products. These drive degenerative diseases, premature cell death and ultimately a shorter lifespan.
Julian Whitaker, MD, reports in his June 2010 newsletter on limiting sugar (glucose and fructose) and taking good nutritional supplements. What are good supplements? He lists vitamin B-1 in the form of benfotiamine, which is fat-soluble (B’s are usually just water-soluble) and vitamin B-6. He also recommends ALA (alpha lipoic acid). All of these supplements are reportedly beneficial for improving the symptoms of type II diabetes, particularly neuropathy, as well as reducing the production of AGEs.
Not surprisingly, apparently due to drug company influence, the FDA has attempted to block the sale of natural B-6. Because this substance counteracts the common side effects of type II diabetes in the form of neuropathy and other organ damage, it competes with sales of diabetes drugs.
dr Whitaker has successfully treated thousands of diabetic patients over the years without medication at his Whitaker Wellness Clinic. He reports that reducing sugar and adding good supplements can reverse many of the harmful symptoms that result from diabetes. These include neuropathy (pain and numbness in the extremities), cardiovascular, eye, skin and kidney problems.
Thanks to Denis Van Loan