Sugar Rust = A.G.E.

Most people intuitively know that eating a bowl of table sugar is bad for you. Somehow a bowl of pasta, in contrast,  is perceived as healthy.  Actually there is not much difference.  Your body processes simple carbohydrates, like bread, cereal, tortillas, potatoes and rice so readily that there is little difference compared to the adverse effects of eating a bowl of sugar.  Avoid any simple carbohydrate (higher GI Glycemic Index or glycemic load) foods as they exert unfavorable effects on your body’s level of inflammation (contributing to aging, pain, and a common pathway for most diseases) and elevates insulin (leading to fat storage and diabetes).    -Dr Miller

unhealthy white sugar on wooden background concept

Simple carbohydrates (sugars) are very reactive and stick to lots of stuff including all of your cellular structures.  Once sugar reacts with a molecule, these modified proteins and fats are called Advanced Glycation End-products (or AGE).  AGE are toxic by-products of metabolism, but are also also acquired by eating high-temperature processed foods.

AGE are signs of oxidative stress and damage to your body’s proteins, lipids and even DNA.  It can be measured and correlates strongly with Aging and Chronic Disease.

AGE products disturb cell signaling, especially insulin-mediated metabolic responses, increasing risk for Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome.

Proteins that have been “AGE‘d” are cross-linked making them stiffer and harder for the body to degrade.  This causes accumulation of those damaged tissues.  For example, stiffening of cartilage can lead to Degenerative Joint Disease and Arthritis.  In the heart and blood vessels, this would cause High Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Disease.  In the brain, AGE leads to Neurodegenerative diseases.  Essentially, AGE causes the various tissues in your body to rust.  

Not only does eating sugar & simple carbohydrates cause AGE, you can also ingest AGE products directly in your food.  Ingested AGE contributes to the total body AGE load and insulin resistance.  Humans typically retain about 6% of ingested AGE.  The dietary effect appears to be worse in those who already have high AGE levels (high carbohydrate diet).  This is an important reason we should avoid processed foods which tend to be high carbohydrate as well as high temperature processed.  

Agents like curcumin and the antioxidant astaxanthin have been shown to reduce AGE formation.  However, negative effects of AGE are independent of physical activity, caloric intake and adiposity level. These important facts are why exercise is no excuse for a poor diet and vice versa.  It is also why I tell even normal weight people to cut the carbs!

Be Well,

Dr Miller

The information on this site is solely for purposes of general patient education, and may not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical care. Consult your physician for evaluation and treatment of your specific condition.


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