It is summer-time and you are likely looking forward to backyard barbeques with your family and friends. However, eating meat from the grill comes with consequences. This is not to say that you cannot enjoy an occasional grilled burger (grass-fed of course!). It is important to first be aware of the health consequences and how you can change your grilling habits to reduce your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s.
AGEs will Age You
The browned areas on grilled meats contain advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs. They are formed during cooking, when sugars are heated with fats and proteins. Foods high in protein or fat, such as meat, are particularly susceptible to the formation of AGEs. The formation of AGEs has been implicated in many inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and premature aging. AGEs increase oxidation and inflammation in your body.
The good news is is that you can do something about this. You can control your consumption of AGEs through your diet and your cooking habits.
Here’s how to reduce your risk of AGEs:
1. Avoid charred and well-done grilled meats. These foods are significantly high in AGEs. Blackened meats are very carcinogenic, increasing your risk of certain cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.
2. Marinate your food! The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii found that a teriyaki marinade reduced carcinogens by 67% and a turmeric-garlic marinade(see below) by 50%! Generally speaking, use 1/2 cup of marinade for every 1 pound of food. And skip the added sugar in marinades.
2. Cooking with water prevents sugars from binding to proteins. Poaching and boiling is the best way to cook meat. Roasting, smoking and grilling should be done at medium temperatures to avoid charring.
3. Lamb and chicken have significantly lower AGEs to begin with, compared to beef, poultry, and cheese. Beef has more AGEs than poultry.
4. Steam vegetables or eat them raw. However, if you like a grilled shish kabob, remember to marinate first!
5. Make raw deserts instead of baking them. Check out my Chocolate Mousse of the Gods recipe below.
6. Avoid brown baked goods, like brown cookies and brown bread crust. Stay away from the Cinn-a-bon! The sugar frosting on top of the brown pastry is caramelized (ie. HIGH AGE content). This browning of foods is called the maillard reaction, in which a chemical reaction takes place between an amino acid and a sugar.
Eating raw and steamed foods when possible can significantly reduce your intake of AGEs, thus decreasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, alzheimers, and premature aging.
Turmeric Garlic Marinade
- 2 tsps ground turmeric
- 5 garlic gloves, minced
- 3 tsps Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup water
In a medium sized bowl, combine the above ingredients. Add chicken, lamb, beef, fish or your favorite veggies. You can leave it up to 24 hours in the fridge if you want a deeper flavor or you can cook right away.
Dr. Sarah Axtell is a Naturopathic Doctor at Lakeside Natural Medicine in Shorewood, WI. She provides holistic health care for the entire family. Dr. Axtell works with many different chronic health conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, auto-immune diseases, gastro-intestinal disorders, cancer, anxiety, and weight loss. She believes strongly in treating you, not just your symptoms, and specializes in treating the root cause of illness by utilizing effective, natural therapies including clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, detoxification, and biotherapeutic drainage.