The iconic elements of fast food, bacon and French fries have long been vilified, and new research suggests that chemicals formed in foods cooked at high heat, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), may set you up for memory and cognition problems later in life. We have known for some time that AGEs are linked to inflammation and premature cell aging. The latest on their harmful effects comes from a study enrolling 93 adults over age 60, showing that insulin resistance and cognitive issues were more common among those with high blood levels of AGEs than they were among study participants with low levels of these compounds. In addition, mice given a diet of foods high in AGEs had increased levels of beta amyloid plaques in their brains compared to mice fed foods with lower AGEs. Earlier research has shown that diets high in saturated fats have also been linked to the build up of these plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. What we don’t know yet is whether giving up bacon and fries - and burgers and fried chicken - can prevent or reverse the course of dementia.
Helen Vlassara et al, “Oral glycotoxins are a modifiable cause of dementia and the metabolic syndrome in mice and humans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI10.1073/pnas.1316013111