Many factors contribute to ageing. Among the more important factors are oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, chronic toxicity and glycation.
Glycation is the abnormal attachment of a sugar to a protein or fat, causing harm to the body. It is different from glycosylation, which is the attachment of a sugar to a protein or fat as part of the normal metabolic process. Glycosylation involves enzymes and ATP (the energy-carrying molecule), whereas glycation does not.
Glycation end-products are believed to contribute to inflammation, chronic diseases (especially diabetes) and ageing. Certain glycation reactions result in advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) which are markers for the severity of certain degenerative diseases and for biological ageing.
A small proportion of the simple sugars like glucose, fructose and galactose in the blood and tissues become attached to certain proteins and fats. The higher the sugar level, the more will become attached. Fructose is particularly prone to become attached. Fructose is commonly used to sweeten many commercial food products and drinks, which make them bad for health.
Arterial endothelium, collagen and fibrinogen are regular targets, and these become damaged after glycation. This leads to stiffening and hardening of the arteries causing high blood pressure.
Glycated LDL ("bad")-cholesterol becomes easily oxidized and hardened. This leads to hardening of the atheromatous plaques, and narrowing of the arteries.
The arteries can also become weakened because of the damaged collagen in their walls. This may cause aneurysms, and if this happens in the brain, there is risk of strokes.
Glycation in the brain also produces by-products (ß-amyloid) which cause Alzheimer's disease.
Inside the cell, AGEs cause cross-linkages between important cellular components, interfere with their functions, and can even induce cell-death.
And since AGEs also worsen oxidative stress and inflammation, the damage to the cells and organs becomes worse. Hence glycation is indeed the ageing and disease accelerator.
Diabetes Causes Most Glycation
Diabetes is associated with high glucose levels, and is therefore particularly exposed to glycation and AGEs. In fact, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level is used to monitor diabetic control. A high HbA1c means poor control, and is directly correlated with a high risk for all the complications of diabetes, involving almost all the organs.
Brain ageing, strokes, cataracts, blindness, heart disease, kidney disease, peripheral arterial & nerve diseases (causing loss of toes and limbs) in diabetics can all be blamed on micro and macro-vascular problems brought about by AGEs.
The kidneys have to get rid of the degradation products of AGEs. Some of these are even more harmful than the AGEs and damage the kidneys further. This is the main reason why many diabetics end up with kidney failure.
How To Reduce The Harm From Glycation
Since glycation causes much harm to the body, we should reduce glycation from occurring; break the cross-linkages caused by AGEs; and counter the damage caused by AGEs.
The most obvious strategy is to reduce intake of sugars, especially fructose. A healthy lifestyle, healthy diet (including plenty of fruits and veggies), sufficient exercise and avoiding obesity should prevent metabolic syndrome and diabetes, which is the danger zone for glycation.
Strong antioxidants are clearly vital to our health and can prevent glycation, accumulation of AGEs, and can prevent or reduce the harmful effects of AGEs that are already formed. Besides, they also can help to fight the signs of aging that make us look older than our real age!
Pine bark extract is one of the strongest antioxidants that can do these. First of all, pine bark is rich in flavonoid compounds that not only gives antioxidant effects, but also anti-inflammatory effects. Besides, it has been shown that dietary supplementation with pine bark extract formulation can improve cognitive performance in individuals who suffer from memory loss problems. Remarkably, cognitive function will decline with age. Hence, pine bark extract can help to improve the brain performance during ageing.
Other than that, SOD (superoxide dismutase enzyme) also play a significant role in cell aging prevention as it acts as the first line of antioxidant defense. However, SOD levels significantly decreased with aging and making cells more vulnerable to oxidative and inflammatory reactions. The accumulation of oxidative damage then will elevate the aging process. Thus restoration of the SOD levels signifies an efficient approach to prevent cell damage and slow down aging.
Next, an extract of the Thai black turmeric (also called Thai ginseng) is also very effective in preventing glycation (and the formation of AGEs). Besides, it has anti-metabolic syndrome and anti-inflammatory effects. On top of that, black turmeric extract has polymethoxy flavonoids, (KPMF) as their active ingredient which can help to activate the longevity gene, SIRTI hence delay aging. More information on SIRTI can be found in the next article!
Other than the antioxidants mentioned above, grape seed extract, resveratrol and curcumin also can counter the harmful effects of existing AGEs.
Vitamins also play significant roles in reverse glycation process. For instant, vitamin C has been recognized as one of the best inhibitor in glycation process. Other than that, vitamin B6 also helps in preventing diabetic complications by blocking formation of (AGEs) which causes loss of function and structure accompanying aging.
These powerful nutrients have many other actions that improve our health, slow down ageing and may prevent or reverse some health problems and diseases.
Look out for more exciting info about these nutrients that will greatly enhance your health!