People nowadays categorize foods as being healthy or risky. There are robust findings showing that how food is cooked has a lot to do with whether it prevents or causes disease.
One example is fish. We know that those who eat ocean fish have fewer heart attacks… but if one eats only fried fish, risk of heart disease increases. Depending on the cooking method, the same food can either accelerate obesity or aid in weight loss. Less understood are prevalent ways of cooking that convert foods into deadly toxins.
It was observed that eating foods cooked at high temperature increases the rate at which we age. Scientists uncovered back then that ingestion of high temperature cooked foods resulted in chronic inflammation and accelerated glycation. Newly published studies confirm these dangers. For example, breast and prostate cancers are sharply increased in those who eat heavily cooked meat like hamburgers.
When any food is heated to high temperature (over 300 0), chemical changes occur that inflict damage to our cells after we eat that food. Be it fat, carbohydrate, or protein, when exposed to high temperatures, toxic compounds form that you don’t want in your body. It was repeatedly warned about the dangers of eating over-cooked foods… especially meat.
A study released in 2012 from a prestigious medical center found that men who ate just1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat each week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 30%. Men who ate more than 2.5 servings of red meat cooked at high temperature were 40% more likely to have advanced prostate cancer. Considering that some men eat high temperature cooked meat every day, is it any wonder that aging men suffer epidemic rates of prostate cancer?
Eating Lower-Temperature Cooked Foods Promotes Weight Loss
In 2003, a fascinating study showing that diabetics who consumed a low-temperaturecooked diet lost weight compared to a group that consumed the same numbers of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein cooked at higher temperature. Not only did the low-temperature prepared diet facilitate weight loss, but there were also reductions in bloodglucose.
This six-week study showed that eating the same food cooked at low-temperature reduced glycated-LDL by 33%, whereas diabetics consuming the same higher temperature prepared foods increased glycated-LDL by 32%.
Move forward to 2012 and a team of researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicineidentified a compound in over-cooked foods that plays a major role in the development of abdominal obesity and its related diseases.
Most of you already know that glycation is a deadly mechanism of aging that destroys functioning proteins in the body and induces chronic inflammation, which in turn promotes weight gain.
Changes in Cooking Methods Can Slow Aging
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) or glycotoxins are found in foods that are overheated or cooked at very high temperatures. This includes foods that have been fried, barbecued, broiled or cooked in the microwave.
While the worst culprits are animal products, since they contain a higher amount of “bad” fats that speed up the formation of glycotoxins, any food exposed to extreme high heat can scorch the natural sugars in food and create glycotoxins. This is also true of many pre-packed foods that have been preserved, pasteurized, homogenized, or refined, such as white flour, cake mixes, canned milk, dried milk, dried eggs, dairy products including pasteurized milk, and canned or frozen pre-cooked meals. While it may be impossible to totally avoid glycotoxins, it is possible to reduce exposure by changing the way food is prepared. Consider steaming, boiling, poaching, stewing, stir-frying, or using a slow cooker. These methods not only cook foods with a lower amount of heat, they create more moisture during the cooking process. According to researchers, water or moisture can help delay the reactions that lead to glycotoxins. Marinating foods in olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and dry wines can also help. Finally, consider making small diet changes by adding more fresh fruits and raw & steamed vegetables to your diet.
How Glycation Cooks Us to Death
The glycation process that turns a chicken brown in the oven is exactly what happens to the proteins in our body as we age. When body proteins react with sugars they turn brown and fluorescent, lose elasticity and cross-link to form insoluble masses that generate free radicals. The resulting advanced glycation end products (glycotoxins) accumulate in our collagen and skin, cornea, brain and nervous system, arteries, and vital organs as we age. Unfortunately, glycotoxins are highly resistant to the normal processes of protein turnover and renewal that maintain the healthy tone of youthful body tissues and organs.
How does the body cope with these chronic assaults on proteins? Long-lived cells, such as neurons and muscle cells, contain high levels of a dipeptide called carnosine, made up of histidine and beta-alanine. Unlike ordinary antioxidants, carnosine blocks numerous pathways involved in the glycation process.
Cooking and Aging Have Similar Biological Properties
Cooking foods at high temperatures results in a “browning” effect, where sugars and certain oxidized fats react with proteins to form glycotoxins in the food. Normal aging can also be regarded as a slow cooking process, since these same glycotoxins form in the skin, arteries, eye lenses, joints, and cartilage of our body.
Studies show that consuming foods high in glycotoxins can be responsible for the induction of a low-grade, but chronic state of inflammation. In addition, the glycotoxins in food cooked at high temperatures also promote the formation of glycotoxins in our living tissues. Thus when we eat foods altered by high temperature cooking, these foods inflict similar damage to living proteins in our body.