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Advanced glycation end products: AGEs and sugar

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) and Sugar Excessive consumption 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 sugar and protein that combine into a worthless inflammatory foreign substance that accelerates degenerative diseases. The overabundance of sugar in the body results in an attack on many cells and proteins in the body. This danger seems to get little press, perhaps because it only came to light in the late 1980s. AGEs are a cross-link or connection of a sugar molecule and a protein. There may be a cross-link with lipoproteins that also contain fat in addition to protein. Here’s the problem with AGEs, they cause:

  • Cardiovascular problems by its connection to the linings of the blood vessels and therefore increases the rate of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
  • Skin problems by binding to collagen (fiber) and increasing wrinkles and producing less flexibility in the skin.
  • Eye problems by making the lens cloudy and hard
  • Kidney problems from interference with the nephrons that filter waste in the kidneys.
  • Nerve transmission problems due to interference in signal conduction due to the resistance produced by AGEs in the nervous tissue.
  • Cognitive impairment because they cause inflammation in brain tissue and prevent neurotransmission.
  • Overwork of the immune system, especially macrophages

AGEs are foreign irritants to the body and must be treated. It is the job of macrophages (pac-man type of white blood cells) which are equipped with special AGE receptors, to deal with the culprits. In fact, these AGEs are cleared by macrophages, but this can become a costly drain on immune system resources. Macrophages lead the charge in most immune responses, and their low numbers cannot be good for immune health.

There are many reports of excessive sugar consumption, but most conclude that US residents consume between 139 and 159 pounds per person per year. Michael Cutler, MD reports that the latest statistic is 170 pounds per person per year.

That sounds incredible and hard to believe, but the food industry adds sugar to literally everything. They learned that sweet always sells better. You name it…ketchup, salad dressing, soup, any packaged food…just about all of them have added sugar.

One of the biggest and most important contributors to excessive sugar consumption is soft drinks. There are 8 to 12 teaspoons of sugar in most soft drinks. Many fruit juices sold in supermarkets add water and sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

There are various forms of sugar that even natural foods have. The table sugar that everyone is familiar with contains two sugar molecules, glucose and one fructose molecule.

There was a time when fructose (fruit sugar) was thought to be better for you. Unfortunately, when it is removed from the other metabolites found in the fruit, it is much more dangerous to health.

Ordinarily fructose (in fruit) is accompanied by bioflavonoids and polyphenols that are great antioxidants; they counteract oxidative free radical damage and inflammation. Plus there are vitamins, minerals, catalysts and only God knows what else that helps fructose metabolism. Fructose is less concentrated in the fruit.

When fructose is separated from these helpful ingredients, there is a 10-fold (1000%) increase in AGE accumulation. There is convincing evidence that pure fructose, such as that found in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)…along with glucose…is one of the main causes of the obesity epidemic found in our western world.

The body was not designed to handle such high concentrations of sugar, stripped and separated from other helpful metabolites. Why is concentrated fructose, like that found in HFCS, so harmful? The simple answer is that it is associated with the destruction of health by:

  • Damage to fructose metabolism
  • Propelling Diabetes II
  • Producing atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke.
  • Association with increased obesity
  • Increased inflammatory uric acid
  • Greater flavor

Dr. Joseph Mercola, ND runs one of the most reputable and cutting edge health blogs on the internet. He says this about fructose:

  • Increases insulin resistance
  • Increases hypertension
  • Elevates triglycerides
  • Increases cardiovascular disease…heart attack and stroke
  • Increases non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Associated with increased cancer
  • It increases arthritis and is highly correlated with obesity and weight gain.

To put fructose consumption into perspective, 100 years ago people consumed 15 grams per person per day. Today the estimate is 73 grams per person per day. That’s almost a fivefold increase.

The widespread use of HFCS became prevalent during the 1970s. HFCS is 20% sweeter and cheaper than table sugar. This means that the food industry will favor its use due to the final profits. Fifty-five percent of all sugar sweeteners used in the food industry is HFCS.

Fructose not only drives obesity, but is now closely associated with the leading cause of death in the US This is cardiovascular disease. It is associated with high blood pressure, myocardial infarction, and stroke.

The overabundance of sugar in the blood and in other parts of the body oversaturates any tissue it comes in contact with, causing inflammation and creating advanced glycation end products. These drive degenerative diseases, premature cell death, and ultimately a shorter lifespan.

Julian Whitaker, MD, advises in his June 2010 newsletter to cut back on sugars (glucose and fructose) and take good supplements. What are good supplements? He lists vitamin B-1 in the form of benfotiamine, which is fat soluble (B vitamins are generally only water soluble), and vitamin B-6. He also recommends ALA (alpha lipoic acid). All of these supplements are reported to be beneficial in improving symptoms of diabetes II, especially neuropathy, as well as reducing AGE production.

Not surprisingly, apparently due to the influence of pharmaceutical companies, the FDA has tried to block the sale of natural B-6. Since this substance counteracts the common side effects of diabetes II, in terms of neuropathy and other organ damage, it competes with the sale of diabetes drugs.

Dr. Whitaker has successfully treated thousands of diabetes patients over the years at his drug-free Whitaker Wellness Clinic. He reports that cutting back on sugars 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.

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