If you’d love to look and feel younger than your years — you can! New research suggests just avoiding compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) helps keep your skin firm and wrinkle-free, your mind sharp, and your joints ache-free — while also reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. AGEs form when excess sugars bind to — and damage — proteins in your body. Fortunately, you can easily keep AGEs in check.
Beef is nature’s top source of L-carnosine, a compound that stops sugars and proteins from binding to form AGEs. In fact, L-carnosine does that job so well, simply eating 16 oz. of beef weekly can slow the aging of your skin, muscles, and organs as much as 33 percent, reports the journal Rejuvenation Research. L-carnosine also switches on “housecleaning” liver enzymes that break down and flush away any AGEs that do form. Not a meat eater? Breakfasting on high-fiber cereals will help keep your blood-sugar levels low and steady, cutting your AGE production 25 percent or more, Harvard researchers say.
Spice it Up
Including one teaspoon of cinnamon, cloves, cumin, or black pepper in your daily diet can send your AGE levels plunging in as little as 72 hours, according to a recent study in the Journal of Medicinal Foods. Compounds in those spices called phenolics make protein molecules less “sticky,” so it’s harder for sugars to latch onto them and form AGEs, researchers explain. Tip: Phenolics are easily destroyed by exposure to light, heat, and air, so to retain their benefits, store your spices in a cool, dark cupboard.
Cook on Low
Poaching, simmering stewing… using lower temperatures and/or a bit of moisture cuts the number of AGEs formed during high-temperature cooking (such as grilling, frying, and broiling) an astonishing 81 percent, Mount Sinai research reveals. The exception? Stir-frying! Although stir-fries require high heat, the food is cooked so quickly that AGEs don’t get the change to form, say Stanford University experts.
Take a Multivitamin
Most of today’s basic multivitamins contain three nutrients needed to keep AGE levels low: 1 mg. to 1.5 mg. each of B-1 and B-6, and 55 mcg. of selenium. Together, they help your body use carbohydrates properly, a key to keeping your blood-sugar level low enough to inhibit the formation of AGEs, says lead researcher, Markus Bohm, MD.
Don’t Peel Your Fruit
Processed foods tend to contain AGEs, but that doesn’t mean you have to give them up! According to a study in the Journal of Anti-Aging Medicines, eating one cup of fruit with the skin (such as apples, pears, and grapes) daily dramatically slows the absorption of AGEs in the digestive tract.
Indulge in “Me Time”
Fitting in some quality, guilt-free “me time” each day — whether you sip tea, read a good book, listen to music, or take a hot bath — could cut your AGE levels 50 percent, say Duke University researchers. Less stress means less norepinephrine, a stress hormone that boosts your body’s AGE production.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.