Geriatric Study Finds Interesting Connection

GeriatricWhile doing research this week I was struck by a headline “A compound that occurs naturally in food, and is increased by cooking, may contribute to chronic diseases like diabetes and dementia. 1

Wow – doesn’t that sound as scary? I won’t leave you on a cliffhanger; lets explore what this article had to say and what it means for geriatric care.

The article, “New Study Strengthens Connection Between Diet, Diabetes, and Dementia,” published by Healthline News, relates to research published in the journal PNAS, which “followed over 90 older adults for nine months to see how their mental abilities were affected by the amount of those compounds – known as advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs – in the body. 1” Even scarier, AGEs are actually naturally present in foodthrough a “reaction of sugars with protein, fat or nucleic acids. 1

Healthline News cites Dr. Helen Vlassara, a professor of geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Icahn School of Medicine, who noted that the geriatric research patients in the study who had high levels of AGE in their diets were those who developed the “cognitive changes, and along with that developed the suppression of the host defenses.1

Specifically, high levels of AGEs in the blood stream alter the functioning of essential processes in the hormones, brain and immune system by blocking an enzyme, SIRT1, which is also very low in geriatric patients receiving care and therapy for dementia and diabetes1.

The findings were groundbreaking for the world of geriatric medicine, forming a connection between the human diet and geriatric diseases such as diabetes and dementia. Previous research, dating 10 to 15 years ago, concluded that in geriatric patients with diabetes, high blood sugar was the reason for AGE concentration. But, with this study, we now understand that high levels of AGEs actually come from the food we eat1.Unfortunately, AGEs are found most frequently in meats and foods with high fat and sugar concentration, which are extremely common in America.

To take the geriatric research a step forward, the study included mice to test how preventative care through dietary changes could help alter the course of time with AGEs and geriatric disease. They found that the mice that had high-AGE diets developed inefficiencies in brain function1.

While this research is not the end-all for geriatric research, preventative care and therapy, it is a good start to encourage additional time and money to be devoted to this topic.

1 Radcliffe, S. (2014). New Study Strengthens Connection Between Diet, Diabetes, and Dementia. Healthline. Retrieved May 15, 2014 from