You are what you eat — the old adage is true when it comes to diet and aging. In your younger years, you can celebrate to excess — eat poorly, drink, skip sleep and smoke — and you'll still look and feel pretty good, but the damage is being done. The damage of a poor diet is aging you from the inside out before you even start to feel the effects.
So what food and drinks impede that youthful glow? Here's what to skip:
Sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils
Our favourite baked goods are a minefield when it comes to unhealthy ingredients. Many commercial pastries contain partially-hydrogenated oil, high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats. This can damage your skin's collagen, which leads to less firm-looking skin.
It's not just straight-up sugar that's the problem. Agave, often touted as a healthy alternative, is packed with fructose and makes your liver turn fructose into fat, which can lead to fatty liver disease, an increase in abdominal fat, a lessened ability to use the hormone insulin, high blood pressure and high blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat.
Not only do you feel the effects of a night of drinking the next day as you age, you also wear it on your face! A healthy liver means healthy skin. Toxins build up in your liver from alcohol, leading to acne, wrinkles and rosacea, not to mention that hangover bloat.
Alcohol depletes the body of vitamins like vitamin A, an antioxidant that's essential for cell growth and helpful to your immune system.
Sugary cocktails and coolers offer the excessive feature of containing both sugar and alcohol. Don't drink too many of these!
Fatty red meats, like certain steaks, generate free radicals that affect your skin's ability to protect itself and generate collagen.
Additionally, if your meat is also charred, like an overdone burger, you may also be increasing your inflammation.
Processed meats like deli meat, sausage, and bacon often contain sulfites, saturated fats, nitrates and sodium, all which could potentially lead to inflammation in the skin, quickening the appearance of aging and most importantly, an increased risk of cancer.
The damage of a poor diet is aging you from the inside out before you even start to feel the effects.
Your favourite snack foods could be leading to a puffy face and bags under your eyes, so watch your intake of pretzels, nuts and chips. Don't forget about hidden sources of salt, from frozen dinners, soy sauce and canned foods.
Spicy food dilates blood vessels, which can result in blotchy skin, spider veins, puffiness, permanent redness and rosacea, so keep that in mind if you're regularly ingesting the hot stuff.
Caffeine makes you lose fluid and depletes your body of moisture, making you dehydrated. Energy drinks add on even more problems — in addition to being high in caffeine, they are high in sugar and are acidic, which means they could strip your teeth of enamel.
Foods such as bagels, oatmeal, pretzels, pasta, and cereal have been proven to accelerate the skin's aging process and cause acne, wrinkles and rosacea by converting refined carbs into sugar and then glucose, which damages collagen.
When you deep-fry food, you expose the oil and fat to extremely high temperatures, which leads to free radicals, a factor in aging, being formed. These foods are going to lead to weight gain as well, which means problems for your waistline, heart and organs, in addition to skin.
So what's the good news? There's lots of delicious and helpful foods out there:
Foods to favour:
- Fruits and vegetables, which curb inflammation, including: blueberries, raspberries, cherries, beets, broccoli, spinach, kale, arugula
- Fish: salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation
- Whole grains: they may help curb inflammation and prevent damage to skin cells
- Oranges: hydrate skin and contain vitamin C which helps create collagen
- Potassium-rich foods might helpreduce circles under eyes: potatoes, nuts, beans, legumes, meat, poultry and fish are potassium-rich and can offset the sodium.
- Protein-rich foods help build collagen: lean meat, eggs, tofu, beans, fish
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