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BackWhat is Glycation?

Throughout life, sugar molecules gradually invade the protein-based tissues in our bodies, linking on one side to a protein and on the other side to another protein. This 'cross-linking' causes the flexibility and function of these tissues to become compromised, which causes a number of symptoms typically associated with aging, such as cataracts, kidney failure and dull, wrinkled skin. Like the boiling of an egg, the process is irreversible.  These sticky conglomerations of sugar and proteins are known as Advanced Glycation End products or AGEs which manifest themselves in 'age spots' on the skin as well as cataracts. They also gum up your vital anti-oxidant enzymes, increasing free radical damage to tissues, which accelerates the aging process dramatically.1

Nearly all of the devastating late-stage symptoms of diabetes, such as blindness, nerve damage, poor circulation, arterial damage, kidney failure, gangrene and limb amputations are results of neuropathy, which is in turn the result of glycation.   Elevated sugar levels cause an increased rate of this cross-linking of sugar molecules and tissues of the nervous system, but it happens nonetheless to all of us, only more slowly, as a part of normal aging.

Measuring Glycation

You can measure your blood glucose levels which will be an indication of the speed with which the process of glycation is occuring now. More accurately, however, the hemoglobin A1c test measures the presence of glucose molecules that join hemoglobin via glycation, and is assumed to be a measure of the glycation that has occured throughout your body generally. A value of less than 5% is regarded as optimal.2

Reducing Glycation

The best way to reduce glycation is to eat a low-carb diet, closer to that under which we evolved.  We consider fasting blood sugar levels between 60-80 to be optimal. Also be on the lookout for foods that are broiled, barbecued, grilled, fried, or oven roasted—these cooking methods use high temperatures and dry cooking conditions, which generate high levels of dietary glycotoxins (essentially AGEs which have already undergone the process of glycation by being cooked). These glycotoxins accumulate in tissues and organs throughout the body and can remain there for a very long time. Although the rate of absorption of food-derived glycotoxins is not very high, the body’s ability to remove them (through excretion) is limited.

More Information


1. Wautier L. L and Guillausseau P. J. 2001. Advanced glycation end products, their receptors and diabetic angiopathy. Diabetes Metab. Nov;27(5 Pt 1):535-542.

2. Geberhiwot T, Haddon A, Labib M. HbA1c predicts the likelihood of having impaired glucose tolerance in high-risk patients with normal fasting plasma glucose. Ann Clin Biochem. 2005 May;42(Pt 3):193-5.

Baron P. The ten most important blood tests. Life Extension. 2006 May;12(5):42-51.