Inflammation can sometimes be triggered by heat.
But who knew that it could be triggered by the temperature of your food?
Researchers at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York concluded earlier this year that frying, sautéing, or grilling food at high temperatures could lead to an increase in inflammation-producing agents in the body called AGEs.
These compounds, also known as glycotoxins, are an important part of the metabolic process and aren’t innately dangerous — but, as with many things, too much of them can be harmful.
What high levels do
A higher concentration of AGEs in the blood can increase inflammation — something that would be detrimental to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other inflammatory diseases.
AGEs are not just released with high cooking temperatures, but they are also naturally found in raw animal products such as meat.
The problem is that cooking certain foods at high temperatures can actually form new AGEs.
When added to foods where AGEs are already present, this can create a problematic quantity in the blood.
Dr. Jaime Uribarri, one of the researchers on the cooking study, told the Arthritis Foundation that “We expect that increased levels of AGEs increase inflammation, although a direct link to arthritis is not firmly established.”
Changes in the diet
Based on the new research, some physicians may suggest a lower AGE diet.
The research indicates that potentially restricting the amount of dietary AGEs could improve health in many ways, not just in regard to reducing inflammation.
AGEs are found in high levels when meats like beef, pork, and chicken are seared or grilled. These compounds can also be found in fish and eggs.
The extra amounts could be detrimental to patients with conditions like RA who may benefit from a low AGE diet or lower cooking temperatures.
Undercooking meat, poultry, eggs, and fish can also be problematic, so the key is to simply practice balance, mindful eating, and reduced exposure to AGEs.
Incorporating raw vegetables and fruits into a balanced diet may help reduce exposure to dietary AGEs and additional inflammation-causing AGEs due to cooking other types of food at hot temperatures.
“It’s easy to remember,” says Jennifer White, a certified nutritional health coach and arthritis patient. “We associate inflammation with flames, or being hot. So to dial down the inflammation, dial down the heat when cooking meat.”