Recently there has been alot of interest in the link between fertility and nutrition. A really interesting area that is beginning to show a significant area of impact is the link between AGEs and fertility. By the end of this article, you may think twice about eating that burnt piece of toast!
What are AGEs?
AGEs is an acronym for advanced glycation end products which are compounds formed during the reactions that breakdown of some proteins and fats within the body. AGEs do accumulate overtime, so they will increase with (biological) age and can also accelerate the ageing process.
AGEs increase inflammation and a type of stress called ‘oxidative’ stress within the body. Oxidative stress occurs when there are more free radicals than antioxidants in the body. The good news: the creation and amount of AGEs in the body is reversible
How do AGEs impact fertility?
AGEs have been linked with infertility. High levels of oxidative stress in the body, caused by AGEs, can alter the female hormones needed for ovulation and pregnancy and can potentially cause damage to ovarian cells. Oxidative stress and AGEs can also increase the rate that the ovaries age, reducing the number of eggs available for fertilisation – not what we want!
Where are AGEs found?
AGEs are mostly found in foods that have been cooked in a ‘dry’ environment, especially when they have been heated to a level that has caused the food to char or burn (think: burnt toast, charcoal chicken, chargrilled veggies)
How to reduce the effect of AGEs
So we have established that AGEs are bad and even worse when you are looking to conceive, however, if you’re like me, most of the food is cooked in a ‘dry’ environment. So how do we reduce the ages we consume?
Try to avoid eating burnt or charred foods! If you burn the toast, leave it and put on another.
Try boiling, steaming, poaching or microwaving your food instead of BBQing, frying or grilling
If you do fry or BBQ your foods, cook slowly at a lower temperature and avoid eating any charred parts of the food. You can marinade your meat to limit some of the effects of the AGEs.
Eat lots of antioxidants. Try to include as many colourful fruits and veggies as possible in your diet, along with beans, legumes, herbs and spices as well as wholegrains like quinoa, rice and oats. Aim for lemon or citrus dressings and three colours on your plate at every meal.