A new report suggests that compounds formed when meat is grilled or broiled may increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease, according to Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation.
It is more commonly known that grilled meats have been linked to problems such as cancer and diabetes, but new research now suggests that grilled meats can also lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer's. But why? The reason behind this is that high-temperature grilling can produce chemicals that may harm the brain.
Scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai in New York looked at substances called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which are formed when meats are cook on very high temperatures, such as grilling or broiling. The researchers found that mice raised on a diet high in AGEs had low levels of a protein in their bodies called sirtuin, a protein that helps fights inflammation in the body. Having low levels of this protein and the lack of being able to fight inflammation has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and other problems. The study found that the mice on the diets high in AGEs had high levels of brain plaques typical of those seen in people with Alzheimer's. The mice also performed worse on tests of memory than mice raised on ordinary diets.
Other studies have found that low levels of sirtuin promote brain damage that is usually seen in Alzheimer's patients. Researchers are looking into drugs that could enhance sirtuin, which has been known to suppress Alzheimer's.
Another experiment conducted by the Mount Sinai team also studied 93 healthy men and women over the age of 60 for a nine-month period. The study found that those individuals who had high blood levels of AGEs did worse on thinking and memory tests than those with low levels of AGEs. The individuals with high blood levels of AGEs also had signs of approaching diabetes. Diabetes has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's.
It's important to note that these findings are only preliminary but do raise new concerns about how often you should grill your meats and how to cook meat if you are going to grill it. We aren't saying that having one grilled burger will give you Alzheimer's disease, but it is important to understand the link between the increased risk of the disease and frequently grilling your meat.
AGEs are found in meat and dairy products. AGE levels rise when the food is cooked on a very high temperature with little moisture. Methods such as poaching, boiling, lightly sautéing, or baking are recommended, as they produce lower levels of AGE. If you must grill your meat, grill it on a low temperature and avoid charring.
High levels of AGEs are not the only risk factors associated with Alzheimer's. It's important to understand that genetics, obesity, smoking, and age all play a role in dementia onset. Getting regular exercise and eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, and fruits is essential to healthy living.