Did you know that your barbecue is aging you? Well, far be it from me to rain on your July 4th grill, but seared meat dramatically increases Advanced Glycation End-products (which appropriately abbreviates as AGEs). Before you despair, or mutter “sod it” and bite into another charred rib, know that there are ways to mitigate AGEs (and some are in your bathroom cabinet). But, first, what are they and how did your BBQ get involved anyway.

Advanced Glycation End-products are proteins or lipids that become glycated after exposure to sugar. Glycated enzymes often fail to work as well as they should or a glycated protein may lose its shape and become unstable. Glycation is an important culprit in the aging process.

AGEs accumulate with age in collagen. They affect proteins in your body and the extracellular matrix (ECM), including the turnover and elasticity of collagen and pro-inflammatory properties of the ECM. It is thought that limiting AGEs will prevent oxidative and inflammatory damage in tissues (source).

Now what about the BBQ part. It seems that it comes down to the confluence of fat, protein and heat. Cooking at high heat produces a chemical reaction between the fat and protein in meat, which combine with sugars, creating our toxic friends AGEs.

The recently formed A.G.E Foundation found that 76% of Americans know that eating processed food can accelerate aging, but only 32% guessed that the way food is cooked has an impact on aging. The foundation’s survey also revealed that six in 10 of us will be grilling rather than stir-frying (9%), or poaching (1%).

Before all of this ignites a heated discussion around your grill, take comfort in the fact there are things you can do to mitigate AGEs – in the bathroom as well as the kitchen.

Lower the temperature

The obvious solution is to limit the amount of barbecued, sautéed, or even toasted food. The A.G.E. Foundation recommends cooking meat “at a low temperature for a longer period of time.”

Marinade

Marinading food before grilling in lemon, lime or vinegar can cut AGEs by 50 percent.

Add Carnosine to your beauty routine

Recent research suggesting carnosine as a potential anti-glycation agent seems promising. It can limit cross-linking to protect cells from AGEs and rejuvenate aging skin tissue. Carnosine extends the ability of cells to reproduce to just over 60 times, making it a real anti-ager. Here's where you can find carnosine:

  • Carnosine is a favorite ingredient in Osmotics’ skincare and can be found in, amongst many others, its Age Defense Barrier Repair Body Silk ($83 in the shop), one of the few body lotions to be formulated with powerful anti-agers.
  • La Vie Céleste Éclairage Restorative Serum ($98.50 in the shop) has carnosine with a slew of skin-brightening ingredients. 
  • The power peptides known as Matrixyl 3000 give carnosine a boost in Arcona Peptide Hydrating Complex ($75 in the shop).
  • If you are in the market for a retinol serum with carnosine, check out Prana Reverse A ($48 in the shop).
  • Skin Nutrition Night Cream ($75) has carnosine and tons of plant and fruit extracts.
  • Your Best Face Balance ($45 in the shop) features carnosine in a simple formula designed to improve skin tone and fight breakouts.

Get to know noni (and other fruits)

Noni (Morinda Citrifolia) is a member of the coffee family and native to Malaysia. It is also high in compounds called iridoids that are not only antioxidant, but can lower a person’s AGE levels. Find noni in Stemulation Relance Body Lotion ($98 in the shop) and Stemulation Gentle Gel Cleanser ($35 in the shop).

Cranberries are also an amazing source or iridoids. Michael Todd True Organics Knu Anti Aging Face Lift ($59 in the shop) has Matrixyl 3000, copper peptides, epidermal growth factor and cranberry. The fruit is also a big deal in Arcona Cranberry Toner ($32), Lather Cranberry Sugar Rub ($19 in the shop) and Mad Hippie Antioxidant Facial Oil ($24.99 in the shop).

So crank up your beauty routine and beat the BBQ blues.