Although food alone doesn’t contribute to the signs of aging, certain foods can accelerate the development of wrinkles and other signs of aging. This is down to what’s called “advanced glycation end products” (AGEs for short), which form when protein or fat combine with sugar.
Everyone is unique, and if you do like to indulge in these foods from time to time, your skin probably won’t end up totally damaged, but it’s good to be aware of the foods that carry a risk of helping the aging process along, and what foods can be used as a substitute instead.
1. French Fries – Swap for Sweet Potato Fries
French fries are a satisfying comfort food, but they combine oil and salt to produce AGEs.
Foods that are fried in oil at high temperatures release free radicals that cause damage to the skin on a cellular level, and they help to accelerate the signs of skin aging. This happens because of a process called cross-linking, which affects DNA molecules and weakens the skin’s elasticity
Large amounts of salt can draw water from the skin and cause dehydration, which may make your skin more wrinkle-prone.
Swap the fries for baked sweet potato fries instead. Sweet potatoes are rich in copper, which aids collagen production.
2. White Bread – Swap for Sprouted Bread
When the refined carbs in white bread interact with protein, they cause the formation of AGEs, which can have an effect on chronic diseases as well as aging.
White bread and other foods high on the glycemic index can cause inflammation of the body, which has a direct link to aging.
Swap your white bread for antioxidant-rich sprouted grain breads that contain no added sugar.
3. White Sugar – Swap for Honey or Fruit
Sugar contributes to the formation of AGEs, as well as skin issues, such as acne.
When we have a lot of sugar in our diet, the AGE process is stimulated, and it speeds up even more if you are exposed to sunlight.
Swap your white sugar for fruit, honey, or dark chocolate when you want something sweet. Blueberries are especially good at preventing collagen loss.
4. Margarine – Swap for Olive Oil or Avocados
Older studies show that those who don’t eat either margarine or butter have much less skin damage than those who do.
Margarine is also the worst of the two because it’s high in partially hydrogenated oils. These trans-fats can make skin more susceptible to ultraviolet radiation, which contributes to damaging the skin’s collagen and elasticity.
Swap butter and margarine for olive oil, or smash some avocado and spread it on toast instead.
5. Processed Meats – Swap for Lean Turkey and Chicken
Processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, and sausages can cause harm to the skin.
These meats are high in salt, saturated fats and sulfite, which dehydrate the skin and cause inflammation.
Swap for lean turkey and chicken, which are full of protein and amino acids beneficial to collagen production. You can also use eggs or beans as another option.
6. The Jury is Still Out on Dairy
Some people have seen positive changes in their skin from avoiding dairy products, but others have found no significant difference at all.
Dairy may affect people differently. For some, it may increase inflammation in the body which leads to oxidative stress – one of the main causes of premature aging.
Swap dairy if you want for other calcium-rich foods such as seeds, beans, almonds, leafy greens, and figs.
7. Keep an Eye on Coffee and Soda Intake
Coffee and soda are both high in caffeine, and they could affect your sleep. Poor sleep is bad for the skin, and has been linked to dark eye circles, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Swap with golden milk instead of coffee. The main ingredient in golden milk is turmeric, which is rich in antioxidants.
8. Drink Alcohol in Moderation
Alcohol can cause a lot of skin problems, including redness, puffiness, wrinkles, and loss of collagen. It also depletes your nutrients, hydration, and vitamin A levels, which also has an effect on the skin.
Swap for mocktails, or make sure you drink in moderation – one drink a day for women, and two for men.
9. Try Not to Cook on High Heat Every Day
Some oils, such as corn or sunflower oil can produce free radicals and increase inflammation levels if they are used to cook over a high heat.
Not all oils are bad for the skin – look for monounsaturated oils to keep the skin hydrated.
Swap vegetable oils for olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and phytosterols.
10. Rice Cakes – Swap for Red Bell Peppers
Rice cakes have a high glycemic index, and can cause your blood sugar to spike. Increased blood sugar levels can accelerate aging and wrinkles.
Swap the rice cakes for hummus with red bell pepper strips. Red bell peppers are full of vitamin C, and chickpeas contain antioxidants, too.
11. Counteract Fructose with Lipoic Acid
Agave is often touted as a healthy alternative to sugar, but it can contain more fructose than high fructose corn syrup!
Fructose breaks down collagen quicker than ordinary sugar, which can speed up wrinkle formation.
Lipoic acid can prevent the damaging effects of fructose, but unfortunately, it’s found in Brussels sprouts, which many people dislike for their strong taste.