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Glycation: It Does a Body Bad

By Dr Neil Levin DC, CN, CFT.

Glycation is an all too common destructive process that takes place in our blood stream and elsewhere in our bodies.  As common as it is, most of my patients and friends are not familiar with this destructive process.  In fact, many of my doctor friends are unaware of it.

So what makes glycation so important, and why should you be aware of it?  Because it may be happening in your blood stream right now.  In fact, if you tend to have high blood sugar levels, it IS happening right now. 

What is Glycation?
Glycation results when a sugar molecule like glucose or fructose, attaches itself to a protein molecule without the control of an enzyme.  Enzyme controlled bonding of a sugar molecule to a protein is called glycosylation.  This is a normal process and is controlled. 

Glycation is the exact opposite set of circumstances.  It is undesirable and happens in an uncontrolled fashion.  Once a sugar is bound to a protein through glycation it renders the protein unable to perform its function.

Is Glycation a Big Problem?
Yes it is.  When proteins can’t function, they can’t perform their assigned tasks.  For instance, a Beta cell in the pancreas may not be able to make insulin, a liver cell may not be able to detoxify an offending substance that you ate, a kidney cell may lose it’s ability to filter your blood, a red blood cell may not be able to carry oxygen as well as it should, etc…

In fact the ability of a red blood cell to carry oxygen is a common test to determine the amount of glycation happening in diabetics.  It’s called hemoglobin (Hb) A1C, or glycosylated hemoglobin test.  The Hb A1C test measures of the amount of hemoglobin which has been glycated, rendering it unable to function properly (recall that hemoglobin carries oxygen to your tissues).

It appears that fructose has approximately ten times the glycation activity of glucose.  So stay away from products which contain high fructose corn syrup. 

Worse Yet – Glycated Proteins Make Free Radicals
Once protein-sugar complexes are created by glycation reactions, they become Advanced Glycation End products also know as AGEs.  Most are reactive and produce an ongoing supply of free radicals that damage surrounding tissues.  In the brain these AGE’s cause amyloid plaquing, which is implicated in memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

AGEs are implicated in many other age related chronic diseases as well such as: type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, peripheral neuropathy, and age related deafness and blindness to name just a few.

How Do I Prevent Glycation From Happening in My Body?
Primarily, eat healthy and get plenty of exercise.  Choose foods that have low glycemic index and glycemic load values.  This will help to keep your blood sugar in a normal range.  There is a good table with an accompanying overview at:

Try to eat less of the simple carbohydrates such as white bread, muffins, cakes, candies, junk food and highly processed foods.  Instead choose complex carbohydrates such as: vegetables, fruits, yams, whole grain bread, beans, brown rice, nuts and the like.  Protein and fat are also naturally low glycemic. 

Eating smaller meals with healthy snacks inbetween approximately every 2½-3 hours is a good way to balance your blood sugar.  This will also protect your muscle tissue from being broken down to supply fuel to your brain, nerves and red blood cells (for more on this topic see my article: Weight Loss Secret: Lower Your Insulin Levels).

Along with these strategies, the following nutrients help to stop these glycation reactions from happening: Carnosine, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Chromium picolinate.   Purity Products Perfect Purples has a nice supply of carnosine along with a good supply of many antioxidant rich fruits and berries.  It’s delicious...I drink it daily.

Dr. Neil Levin
Chiropractor practicing in East Northport, NY
(631) 651-2929