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The messages appear everywhere now, almost unavoidable. That, combined with the plethora of mirrors that never fail to remind us we're no longer drinking from the Fountain of Youth, is enough to make us wonder; what is truly in our control when it comes to slowing down the signs of aging?

The best way to get and keep a healthy glow and look years younger isn't found in a spray tan, injection, or $100 moisturizer. It's found in the foods we eat and more importantly in the foods we DON"T eat. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) form in the body when sugar reacts with proteins and fats in the body. The more sugar (glucose or fructose) in the body, the more AGEs. An increase of AGEs in the body can damage cells, cause inflammation, advanced aging and chronic degenerative disease. AGEs have been linked to diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease.

Another way that AGEs are formed is through cooking, more so in animal products that are high in fat in protein, and especially with dry heat. Vegetables and complex carbohydrates and milk contain very few AGEs. Cooking with moist heat, at lower temperatures, for shorter cooking times reduces the formation of new dietary AGEs.

The positive news is that often theses reactions are reversible. Decreasing and limiting sugar (including fruit sugar or fructose) in the diet and getting plenty of exercise can actually "unhook" the sugars from the protein groups to which they are attached. Limiting sugar has been shown in animal models to increase lifespan.

Consuming an antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory diet will also contribute to a radiantly youthful glow. Consider including fatty fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. Eat at least 7 servings of vegetables (think rainbow) everyday. Choose whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, whole wheat, faro, and oats. Add nuts and seeds, which help support the collagen and elastin in skin. Drink plenty of pure water throughout the day - skip the soda entirely! Add Greek-style yogurt (plain), legumes, shallots, sprouted green foods and you'll be on your way to feeling and looking fantastic!

References:

Uribarri J, Woodruff S, Goodman S et al: Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc 2010 Jun; 110(6):911-16.e12.

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