There’s been a lot of research on the aging process lately because of the large population of aging baby boomers – individuals born between 1946 and 1964. And one of the more popular theories researchers are advancing is the “glycation theory of aging.”
Andrew Weil, in his book, Healthy Aging, explains that the process of glycation is like carmelization, or the browning of sugar in a pan. He says that the same thing happens in our bodies when there’s enough sugar present in the blood; that the sugars bond or gum up adjacent proteins forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs), and that these deformed proteins promote inflammation.
Weil recommends using the glycemic index (which measures how fast a carbohydrate raises your blood sugar) for choosing carbohydrate sources and “reducing or eliminating consumption of the kinds of carbohydrate foods that produce rapid increases in blood sugar.”
Another point he makes is that our bodies produce the hormones that control inflammation using the essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are called essential because the body can’t manufacture them on its own; they must be obtained from food. Weil explains that, “hormones made from omega-6 fatty acids upregulate inflammation, while those made from omega-3 fatty acids downregulate it.”
His Anti-inflammatory Diet (which isn’t really a diet) includes lots of foods rich in omega-3 such as “salmon, herring, black cod, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs” as well as an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. He says each meal should include some carbohydrate, fat and protein and that the “basic goals are balance, variety, and freshness.”