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4 Natural Ways to Outsmart a Hidden Cause of Aging

Most of us would love to look and feel younger than our years. And the good news is, we can! The secret is to reduce exposure to compounds called AGEs (advanced glycation end products). Halting the formation of AGEs in your body can keep skin firm, joints ache-free and memory sharp, plus protect against disease. Try these easy tips below to get started.

Get out your slow cooker.

AGEs form when food is cooked at high temperatures or without moisture — conditions that help sugar molecules stick to protein fibers, making them weak and less supple. Cooking at lower temperatures with a bit of liquid, as with a slow cooker, can cut your intake of AGEs by 81 percent, report Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers. Other anti-AGEing options: poaching, steaming, simmering, braising, and stewing.

Bite into a burger.

Beef brims with L-carnosine, an amino acid that makes protein fibers slippery, so sugar molecules can’t latch on to form AGEs. In fact, eating just two burgers weekly could slow the aging of skin, muscles, and organs by as much as 33 percent, suggests a study in the journal Rejuvenation Research. Adds study co-author Ken Fukami, M.D., L-carnosine also energizes liver enzymes that help break down and excrete dietary AGEs.

Add a little spice.

Great news from University of Georgia researchers: Flavoring meals with 1⁄2 tsp. daily of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, pepper, oregano or sage can send the production of AGEs plunging by 20 percent in 72 hours. Thanks goes to compounds in these dried spices (phenolics) that block the formation of AGEs in tissues. Tip: Phenolics can be damaged by light and heat, so keep the spices you use often in a cool, dark cupboard.

Pennies-a-day boost.

Vitamin C is one of the most economical supplements ($10, Amazon) and three recent studies suggest that taking 1,000 mg. daily could single-handedly cut your levels of AGEs by as much as 52 percent. Explains biochemist Maria Santos, Ph.D., vitamin C helps your cells use excess sugars for fuel before they can latch on to proteins to form AGEs. Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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