I am sometimes asked what are the most important components in preventing degenerative disease or premature aging?
There are many, but without doubt four of the most important ones are free radicals, glycation, methylation and chronic inflammation. They are also interrelated.
This article addresses Glycation. I have also published articles addressing the other three issues.
Glycation: A simple explanation to a complex aging problem
Glycation is arguably even more dangerous to your health than free radicals!
It is important that you understand what it is, how it is caused and how to protect yourself against it.
In order to appreciate the problems associated with glycation there are some basic biological facts that you need to be aware of.
Firstly, the role that proteins play in your body!
Proteins are valuable biological molecules which are found in almost every part of your body and have a variety of functions.
They are present inside the cells making the life of the cell possible. Without them you would not survive as these proteins are needed to carry oxygen and nutrients to the tissues.
Proteins are made up of strings of different amino acids. To function properly they need to be ‘free agents.’
In other words they need to remain as singular molecules to move around and perform their tasks.
So far, so good…
However, proteins have ‘enemies’ that they are exposed to every day. These ‘enemies’ are in the form of…glucose molecules, sugars, and similar chemicals known as aldehydes.
All these molecules can be referred to loosely as glycating agents.
These ‘enemies’ try to attach themselves to protein molecules. When they do this it is the start of a dangerous situation.
Why? Well, when the glycating agent attaches itself to a protein molecule the ‘combined molecule’ is a bit like a particle floating around with some superglue stuck to it.
If that bit of ‘glue’ comes into contact with another protein then that combined molecule may then attach itself to that ‘free agent’ protein in a process referred to as ‘cross linking’.
Cross linking is BAD…with a capital ‘B’
The reason why this cross linking is so bad is because now instead of having two good proteins to help the overall health of your body and prevent premature aging, you now have what is referred to by bio-chemists as a ‘grotesque’ molecule. This ugly molecule is known as an AGE which is short for Advanced Glycation End-products.
These AGEs are real troublemakers! They move around the body binding to cells and causing them to produce a number of poisonous chemicals plus other toxic by-products.
AGEs also increase the formation of amyloid beta which is a toxic material found in the brains of older people and abundant in Alzheimers and dementia patients.
As well, AGEs stimulate the production of free radicals which in turn can create more aldehydes which in turn stimulates more glycation…and so, a vicious cycle can continue to accelerate UNLESS you are aware of it and do all that you can to slow down this process which causes aging and degenerative disease!
This process also contributes to heart disease by thickening artery walls.
PLUS it will make you look old before your time because the skin proteins and collagen clump together, then collapse…result…wrinkles!
Protect yourself against Glycation & AGEs
There are three actions that you can take:
1. Try to minimize your intake of glycating foods…simple carbohydrates and sugars.
2. By inactivating the aldehydes (glue) before they attach themselves to the protein.
3. By preventing the protein which has already got ‘glue’ on it from sticking to another protein.
The first action is self explanatory. The next two are fortunately possible thanks to recent scientific discoveries using a dipeptide known as Carnosine.
This is how Carnosine works:
It has two unique abilities. One, is that it has an ability to attach to glycating ‘agents’ and neutralize them.
The other is that it has the ability to put a protective shield around a protein molecule which already has a glycating agent attached to it. By providing that shield it prevents that protein molecule from ‘cross-linking’ with another protein molecule and forming an AGE.
No other natural substance has yet been discovered that can perform this task, other than Carnosine. Vitamins such as C and E although helpful for free radicals do nothing to help prevent glycation! Same applies to other anti-oxidants.
You may be asking yourself why consumers in general are not being made more aware of glycation? The answer to this is that Carnosine is a very expensive nutrient and as yet still not common in supplements. We have been using it in Total Balance for eight years. In fact, we were one of the first supplement companies in the world to begin using it for this purpose.
How much Carnosine do you need?
Like so many nutrients there is no real evidence to support the premise ‘more is better.’
The generally accepted effective dose rate is 50 – 150mgs per day. We use 100mgs in a daily dose of Total Balance.
As with most nutrients carnosine works better when taken in synergy with a wide range of other nutrients.
If you wish to do all you can to protect yourself against glycation and the damage it can cause then you should supplement with Carnosine every day. Remember that it takes time to build up the protection and to undo damage which has already occurred in your body.
Because it works best in combination with other nutrients it is best not to take Carnosine on its own. Besides, glycation is only one of the components in the four main causes of aging and degenerative disease.
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Warren Matthews is the co-founder and Chairman of Xtend-Life Natural Products, a family-owned, integrated manufacturer and distributor of natural supplements and skin care products.
Xtend-Life has since become one of New Zealand's business success stories, renowned for the purity of its ingredients, its innovative formulations and its competitive pricing. The company now sells its expanding range of natural supplements, omega-3 and skin care products each month to thousands of customers in over 40 countries.
Warren Matthews himself has emerged as one of the industry's evangelists. Travelling over 250 000 miles a year, worldwide, he lectures to nutritional science, health and beauty professionals, hosts consumer seminars and meets with Xtend-Life's customers and suppliers. His agenda is simple: to encourage continued scientific research into – and broader, better-informed public acceptance of – the very real benefits of pure, natural products along with sensible diet and lifestyles.
You can read his blog at http://blog.xtend-life.com/
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