Meat and the way it is prepared linked to Alzheimer's

Feb. 25, 2014 at 5:13 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs, common in the "Western diet," suppress levels of sirtuin, a key defense" against Alzheimer's, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Helen Vlassara, professor and director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging in the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, found AGEs cause brain changes similar to Alzheimer's disease and pre-diabetes.

AGEs, which naturally occur at low levels in the body, are found in high levels mostly in heat-processed animal food products, such as grilled or broiled meats -- especially barbeque, Vlassara said.

Mount Sinai researchers showed consumption of such foods by mice raised the body's level of AGEs, which, among other effects, suppressed levels of sirtuin, or SIRT1, a key "host defense" shown to protect against Alzheimer's disease as well as metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetic state.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested reducing the intake of AGEs could help open "new therapeutic avenues" for the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia, as well as diabetes.

"Age-associated dementia or Alzheimer's disease is currently epidemic in our society and is closely linked to diabetes. Our studies of both animals and human subjects confirm that AGE-rich foods are a lifestyle-driven reality with major health implications. The findings point to an easily achievable goal that could reduce the risk of these conditions through the consumption of non-AGE-rich foods, for example, foods that cooked or processed under lower heat levels and in the presence of more water -- cooking methods employed for centuries," Vlassara said in a statement.

"While more research needs to be done to discover the exact connection of food AGEs to metabolic and neurological disorders, the new findings again emphasize the importance of not just what we eat, but also how we prepare what we eat. By cutting AGEs, we bolster the body's own natural defenses against Alzheimer's disease as well as diabetes."

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