Washington: Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a common compound in heat-processed food that could play a major role in the development of abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
The research team, led by Helen Vlassara, MD, Professor and Director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging, found that mice with sustained exposure to the compound, methyl-glyoxal (MG), developed significant abdominal weight gain, early insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
MG is a type of advanced glycation endproduct (AGEs), which is produced when food is cooked with dry heat. AGEs have been found to lower the body`s protective mechanisms that control inflammation.
In the study, one group of mice was fed a diet high in MG over four generations, while the control group was fed a diet without MG. Both diets had normal calories and fat.
Over four generations, the mice that ate the MG started to develop early insulin resistance and increased body fat, whereas the control group did not have either of these conditions.
The researchers found that MG caused a marked deficiency in protective mechanisms, such as the survival factor SIRT1 that is present in fat and controls inflammation, while enhancing the metabolism of glucose and insulin. The ingestion of MG also adversely affected the activity of an important anti-AGE receptor called AGER1, which protects SIRT1 and fights insulin resistance.
The abdominal fat of the MG-fed mice was transformed into a repository of fat cells producing highly inflammatory molecules called cytokines, which impaired glucose metabolism and slowed down fat turnover, and resulted in insulin resistance and diabetes. Mice that were fed the low-in-MG diet displayed high levels of SIRT1, AGER1 and no diabetes.
The research team recommends that clinical guidelines be revised to eliminate foods cooked using dry heat and replace them with methods that use lower heat or lots of moisture (water) as in stewing, poaching or steaming.
The findings have been published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.