Dr. Helen Vlassara speaks to America’s
daunting health challenges and how to avoid them in “The AGE-less Way: Escape America’s
Dr. Helen Vlassara, a pioneer in diabetes and aging research, has dedicated much of her recent scientific work to the paradox of today’s chronic diseases that are spreading amid plentiful nutrition and unprecedented medical progress. Popularly known as the new “epidemics,” obesity, diabetes, heart and kidney disease, dementia and other forms of premature aging are viewed as the next “tsunami” sweeping global health. In “The AGE-Less Way: Escape America’s Over-Eating Epidemic” (ISBN 0615450040), she reveals what she’s found as a deeply flawed eating culture that shortchanges health at multiple levels. Vlassara also argues that although we live longer today, only a few enjoy a better quality of life. All this she traces to the crippling of our natural defenses, a side effect of appetite-enhancing over-processed foods. Based on her radical findings, she proposes that a few simple “tips” can help recapture lost natural defenses and to fend off disease epidemics.
Vlassara urges readers to opt against “eating our way” through life, allured by tasty toxins embedded in modern foods. She remarks that it is not just the usual abundance of “meat and potatoes” that cause Americans to be fatter and sicker, but rather an obsession with the “taste” of foods as in hamburgers, bacon, pizza and fries. Certain flavors, called Advanced Glycation Endproducts or AGEs, are in effect toxins that weaken the immune system and drain vital strength. These form mostly during the dry-heating of foods, an age-old process used in broiling, frying and baking, but are now exponentially increased through industrial-scale processed food production and marketing. As a result, today even in infants many AGEs come from heat-processed infant formulas, likely a cause for the children’s alarming rates of “adult” diseases, she says.
The sheer impact of her unexpected findings convinced Vlassara of the need for a practical, low-cost solution. The AGE-less Way is just that. She first proved that in animal models cutting down on food AGEs prevents diseases, delays aging and extends lifespan. Then in clinical studies, she confirmed marked improvements in disease markers of inflammation, metabolism, body weight and vascular function after a few months on The AGEs-less Way. It is especially noteworthy that this was accomplished without reducing calories, much less going hungry.
“The AGE-less Way demands no dramatic overhaul of one’s lifestyle,” Vlassara says. “All one has to do is make a switch in meal preparation methods, committing to those that protect our food – and ourselves -from AGE toxins. This single adjustment quickly restores our center of energy and strength, and automatically saves us a whole lot of trouble in the future – like a bank savings account. No hunger involved. No cost. And it is for life. Yours and your family’s. This is the way eating food was meant to be. Plus, it is greener.”
Vlassara hopes that the new insights will jolt our awareness with what has fundamentally gone wrong with this generation’s unhealthy outlook. She believes that scientifically sound, understandable concepts, offered with a wide range of practical solutions and choices are what everyone needs to trade in addiction-like habits for a more vigorous body and mind, and a brighter future for the younger generations.
About the Author: Dr. Helen Vlassara is a professor of medicine, geriatrics and molecular medicine as well as the director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. She is internationally known for her research on the causes and new therapies for diabetes and aging-related diseases. She has also pioneered in, and built the main body of evidence that AGEs in modern diet contribute to diabetes and other chronic diseases. She and her colleagues launched the concept of AGE-restriction, coined as The AGE-less diet, a cost-effective strategy to reduce diabetes and improve healthy aging. She holds multiple awards and distinctions and has published numerous scientific papers, reviews and book chapters.