4 foods that make your skin age faster – and you’re probably eating them every day!
It’s no secret that the quality of your diet is reflected in the quality of your skin – for better or for worse – and especially as you get older. Your daily eating habits can either contribute to a radiant, healthy glow or they can age you beyond your years.
So what are the common foods that have the most adverse effects on your skin? Here’s a reminder of the worst offenders – and why you might consider avoiding (or at least reducing) them.
Simple, processed Sugars (yes, alcohol too)
Sugary foods like candy, ice cream, processed breakfast cereal, jam, cookies, croissants, cakes, white bread and alcoholic drinks spike your blood sugar and cause chronic inflammation in the body, which permanently damages your collagen and elastin in a process known as glycation. Collagen and elastin are two vital proteins that are responsible for maintaining the structure and elasticity of your skin. The visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles, appear when collagen and elastin are depleted. What’s more, diets high in sugary, processed foods are almost always deficient in nutrients that are vital for healthy skin such as zinc and essential fatty acids – and ultimately that shows.
What can you do?
Satisfy your sweet tooth instead with antioxidant-rich natural sugars, like those found in fruits, which neutralizes the inflammation caused by sugar and insulin spikes. Opt for desserts made with maple syrup and dates and choose minimally sweetened dark chocolate as a regular treat. Consider wine spritzers or avoiding alcohol completely.
These foods often contain hormones, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and waxes. These toxic intruders promote an inflammatory response in the body, which accelerates premature aging. Studies consistently show that organically grown food has two to three times the vitamins, minerals and trace elements of commercially grown food. Since these nutrients are the building blocks of a healthy complexion – the more our body gets, the better our skin will look.
What can you do?
Since organic foods typically cost more than do their conventional counterparts and can sometimes be less available, going 100% organic can be an unrealistic goal. Begin with easily available items such as organic dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese and butter), eggs, poultry, meat and organic, seasonal produce from local farmers markets. Organic fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish can be hard to find and prohibitively expensive. Opt instead for smaller fish like sardines and mackerel – they accumulate far fewer heavy metals in their system.
Too much caffeine
Too many caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy shots), stimulate the stress response, which leads to increased cortisol levels in our bodies. Excess cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) has been proven to accelerate the aging process and damage our skin, including thinning the skin. The thinner your skin, the more prone it is to fine lines, wrinkles, dehydration and a lackluster appearance. Caffeine is also a diuretic and can dehydrate the body. The better hydrated your body is, the healthier your skin appears.
What to do?
There’s no need to forsake your morning tea or coffee – after all both are a good source of antioxidants and may protect you from diabetes -just try to limit your consumption of caffeinated drinks throughout the rest of the day. Opt for herbal teas instead and remember to rehydrate your body by drinking plenty of water.
Gluten is a protein in wheat and other common grains that are staples of the Western diet. But ironically, studies show that up to 70% of us have some degree of gluten or wheat sensitivity or intolerance. This promotes underlying chronic inflammation in our bodies, often showing up in our skin as acne, eczema, wrinkles and premature aging. When gluten intake is reduced, there is almost always a marked improvement in complexion and overall health.
What to do?
Most doctors can test for gluten sensitivity, or you can try an elimination diet to see if symptoms improve. Some of the foods that should be avoided include pasta, breads, crackers, pastries, cakes, oats, pizza, beer, barley, rye and spelt. But don’t despair – gluten free options exist for all of the above!