When blood glucose levels are raised, the glucose combines with proteins and fats, the building blocks of cells, to form Advanced Glycation End Products. These are quite appropriately abbreviated as AGE’s, as aging is exactly what they cause.
The combination of sugar and protein is similar to the formation of the brown crust on baked goods, technically called the Maillard reaction. While desirable in a cake, in the body it damages cells and tissues and leads to decreased function of organs.
The body has receptors for the AGE’s, abbreviated as rAGE’s, which are located on immune cells, the cells lining the arteries, and the lungs. Activation of these receptors by AGE’s triggers the immune system and increases inflammation throughout the body. Chronic, low-grade, unresolved inflammation leads to tissue damage, and is associated with cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic degenerative diseases. AGE’s are further associated with the complications of diabetes and multiple forms of cancer.