Acupuncture Today shares low-AGE tips for meat

Cut_seasoned_steaksAdvanced glycation end-products (AGEs) have been discussed by many different types of publications, and now we can add acupuncture publications to that list.

That’s because Acupuncture Today recently published the article “Meat in the Middle: Teaching Your Patients About Meat Consumption.” With its website and magazine, Acupuncture Today claims to be the only complete news source in the acupuncture profession.

The article was written by Marlene Merritt, a licensed acupuncturist who runs a wellness center in Austin, Texas. Merritt discussed various aspects of eating meat, one of which was advanced glycation end-products, which she said “conveniently have an acronym that tells us what they do … (AGE).”

Merritt offered the following explanation of AGEs:

“These can be formed when meat is cooked a certain way (more on this in a second) or with glycation, when a protein binds with a sugar. A sugar, you say? Well, imagine that — where do you think that protein is running into a sugar? In our bloodstream, with all the sugar and refined carbohydrates we eat. The worst reactions are with glucose, fructose (both of which form sucrose, which is table sugar) and galactose.

Despite the mental picture we have of a caveman holding a leg of something over an open flame, that’s not actually how they cooked a lot of their food — they preferred boiling or wrapping meat in leaves for cooking. Grilling isn’t actually good for our health. Every time you cook meat at high temperatures, especially over an open flame, you create compounds that are potentially carcinogenic.”

The particular compounds that Merritt listed were heterocyclic amines (HAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs):

“HAs and PAHs are also found environmentally, like in cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust, airborne particles and rain water. The problem with these two compounds is that they can cause DNA mutations when enzymes in your body ‘activate’ them, creating an opportunity for cancer. Animal studies show HAs causing cancer quite consistently (especially colon, skin, breast and prostate cancer), and lung and leukemia show up with PAHs. And, observational studies have definitely shown pretty solid links between well-done, barbecued, or fried meat, and cancers. High temperature-cooked meat, especially over an open flame, is something to limit (especially since you don’t know your exposure from other sources). This dry type of cooking is what also increases AGEs in the body.”

That doesn’t mean that meat cannot be consumed, however. In fact, Merritt suggested various changes to how meat is prepared that can lead to fewer AGEs and other harmful compounds:

“When you cook, try to not cook your meat on open flames or temps over 300, and limit charred or smoked foods (cut off any charred bits before eating). I recently saw a grilling mat that was used to prevent flare-ups — something like that could be helpful. Use a marinade with lemon juice, red wine, onion or garlic, which can cut levels of HAs substantially. If you’re cooking on a high heat surface, turn the meat continuously or partially cook it using gentler methods like lower temps and steaming beforehand. Learn to use a crock-pot to make soups (using real stock made from bones) and stews. Buy local (this includes vegetables), and as clean a source as you can get.”

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