Cooking Up Chronic Disease: The Hidden Danger in Delicious Foods

Glycotoxins from grilling

Have you ever taken a bite of a perfectly charred steak or crunchy chip and wondered if it’s good for you? Turns out, common cooking methods like grilling, roasting, baking, and frying that yield the mouthwatering flavors and textures we love come at a cost to our health. The culprits? Compounds called glycotoxins.

And while our bodies naturally produce some glycotoxins, consuming too many from food sources can lead to increased inflammation and oxidative stress. Let’s look at these compounds, their risks, and how you can reduce your exposure to them.

What Are Glycotoxins?

Glycotoxins, also known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), are harmful compounds that form when proteins or fats combine with sugars. This process, called glycation, happens naturally in your body. But they also form when you expose foods to high temperatures using cooking methods like grilling, frying, roasting, and baking.

Glycotoxins contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation in your body, which over time can increase the risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and even Alzheimer’s. While some formation is expected, reducing intake from processed and high heat-treated foods provides health benefits.

How Glycotoxins Harm Your Health

When we consume too many glycotoxins from dietary sources and too many accumulate in the body, it overwhelms our natural detoxification systems. Glycotoxins produce free radicals and inflammation, which damages proteins, fats, and DNA.

Higher intake has been linked to:

  • Increased oxidative stress and chronic inflammation
  • Insulin resistance and higher blood sugar
  • Kidney disease progression
  • Cardiovascular disease risk factors
  • Potentially faster cognitive decline

One study looked at levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), also called glycotoxins, in the blood of healthy younger and older adults. It found that serum levels of common glycotoxins derivatives were higher in older people. Independent of age, glycotoxin levels correlated with intake of dietary AGEs. The results suggest dietary AGEs influence systemic glycotoxin levels, contributing to elevated oxidative stress and inflammation throughout life, especially in older adults.

Another study found that orally absorbed glycotoxins accumulate in tissues and cause oxidative stress and inflammation in animals. This suggests food-derived AGEs have the potential to be harmful through these mechanisms.

So, it’s important to avoid these compounds as much as you can. Let’s look at some ways to do that.

Strategies to Reduce Your Glycotoxin Intake

Luckily there are easy and effective ways to reduce your glycotoxin exposure from food and it comes down to the foods you eat and how you prepare them. Here are some guidelines for lowering your exposure:

  • Use gentler cooking methods – Boiling, poaching, stewing, and steaming help reduce formation versus high heat and dry cooking methods.
  • Cook at lower temperatures – Keep temperatures below 300°F when possible, to limit browning.
  • Add moisture during cooking – Use marinades, broth, and sauce to add moisture and acidity.
  • Cook for shorter times – The longer food cooks at high heat, the more glycotoxins form.
  • Limit processed foods – Packaged snacks, pastries, chips and candy contain more glycotoxins.
  • Eat more raw fruits/veggies – Produce naturally contains fewer glycotoxins, even after cooking.
  • Choose healthier fats – Polyunsaturated fats like olive oil and avocados are lower risk than saturated fats.
  • Take antioxidants – Consuming more antioxidants can help counter inflammation and oxidative damage.
  • Support detoxification – Your liver and kidneys help eliminate glycotoxins, so supporting them is key.


By following an eating pattern focused on whole, minimally processed foods prepared with gentle, moist cooking methods, you can significantly reduce your glycotoxin exposure. Pair them with more plant foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients that support detoxification for better health and chronic disease prevention. Small, sustainable changes to how you cook and eat can go a long way in reducing risk and supporting your wellbeing.

Before you know it, you’ll be whipping up all your comfort food faves with a healthy twist without even thinking about it! And just incorporating more antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies helps cancel out any remaining glycotoxins.

Our bodies are great at getting rid of toxins if we don’t overload on them. So, if you’re eating a generally healthy diet, having your cake, and eating it too isn’t totally out of the question. Making these simple changes can pay off down the road with better health and disease prevention.

The bottom line? You can STILL enjoy all your favorite foods AND reduce your risk of glycotoxins through small, sustainable tweaks. With a few easy recipe “hacks,” you’ll be cooking up delicious, guilt-free meals for years to come!


  • Uribarri J, Woodruff S, Goodman S, Cai W, Chen X, Pyzik R, Yong A, Striker GE, Vlassara H. Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):911-16.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.018. PMID: 20497781; PMCID: PMC3704564.
  • Paulo Matafome. Another Player in the Field: Involvement of Glycotoxins and Glycosative Stress in Insulin Secretion and Resistance. Diabetology. 2020;1(1):24-36. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/diabetology1010004.
  • Krajcovicová-Kudlácková M, Sebeková K, Schinzel R, Klvanová J. Advanced glycation end products and nutrition. Physiol Res. 2002;51(3):313-6. PMID: 12234125.
  • Reducing Consumption of Glycotoxins From Heat-processing Of Foods Reduces Risk Of Chronic Disease. ScienceDaily. Published 2024. Accessed February 25, 2024. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091104000929.htm.
  • Uribarri J, Cai W, Peppa M, Goodman S, Ferrucci L, Striker G, Vlassara H. Circulating glycotoxins and dietary advanced glycation endproducts: two links to inflammatory response, oxidative stress, and aging. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007 Apr;62(4):427-33. doi: 10.1093/gerona/62.4.427. PMID: 17452738; PMCID: PMC2645629.
  • Koschinsky T, He CJ, Mitsuhashi T, et al. Orally absorbed reactive glycation products (glycotoxins): An environmental risk factor in diabetic nephropathy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1997;94(12):6474-6479. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.94.12.6474.
  • Melpomeni Peppa, Goldberg T, Cai W, Rayfield E, Vlassara H. Glycotoxins: A Missing Link in the “Relationship of Dietary Fat and Meat Intake in Relation to Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men.” Diabetes Care. 2002;25(10):1898-1899. doi:https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.25.10.1898

Related Articles By Cathe:

4 Types of Toxins that Form When You Cook Your Food at High Temperatures

Four Healthy Grilling Tips That Could Save Your Health

Tips for Healthy Summer Barbecuing and Grilling

What Does Science Say about Red Meat and Cancer?

5 Surprising Factors That May Increase Your Risk of Cancer

Explaining the Possible Link Between Processed Meats and Cancer

Make Your Next Summer Barbecue a Healthy One

Hi, I'm Cathe

I want to help you get in the best shape of your life and stay healthy with my workout videos, DVDs and Free Weekly Newsletter. Here are several ways you can watch and work out to my exercise videos and purchase my fitness products:

Get Your Free Weekly Cathe Friedrich Newsletter

Get free weekly tips on Fitness, Health, Weight Loss and Nutrition delivered directly to your email inbox. Plus get Special Cathe Product Offers and learn about What’s New at Cathe Dot Com.

Enter your email address below to start receiving my free weekly updates. Don’t worry…I guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared and you can easily unsubscribe whenever you like. Our Privacy Policy