It’s not just the food we eat that affects health – it’s also the way it’s cooked. A recent study showed that common methods of preparing meat increase the risk of developing certain medical conditions and diseases. This adds a new layer to how nutrition impacts health.
Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, found that the dangers of grilling or broiling meat include possibly increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes. They discovered that heat-processed meats contain high levels of advanced glycation endproducts, also referred to as AGEs.
While small levels of AGE’s already naturally exist in the body, consuming foods with high levels of AGEs raises the risk of developing diseases. High levels of AGEs suppress SIRT1 in the blood, which is responsible for regulating neuronal, immune and endocrine functions. For example, people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes tend to have suppressed SIRT1.
In their investigation, researchers monitored the cognitive health of mice that ate foods high in AGEs, foods that are commonly found in the Western diet. Those include foods high in saturated fats, along with red meats and empty carbohydrates, and low in seafood, poultry, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
The mice that ate foods high in AGEs had high levels of AGEs in their brains as compared to the mice with a diet low in AGEs. These mice developed problems with cognitive and motor abilities. They also had deposits of amyloid-beta, an amino acid crucial to developing Alzheimer’s.
To confirm their findings, the researchers carried out the study on healthy people over age 60, with varying levels of AGE in their blood. After 9 months, researchers found those with high levels of AGE showed cognitive disease, SIRT1 suppression and signs of insulin resistance. Those with low levels of AGE remained healthy.
These studies demonstrate that following a diet of low AGE foods – and cooking foods under low heat and with more water – improves the body’s natural defense and could help people avoid developing Alzheimer’s and diabetes.