According to a report by Transparency Market Research, the anti-aging market in the U.S. is projected to be worth $191.7 billion by 2019. People will obviously pay a high price to keep their skin youthful and radiant, but they often don’t consider that their food choices can make all the difference between dull and glowing skin.
What we put into our bodies affects every single part of us, from our internal organs to our fingernails to our skin. While we should enjoy our food, it plays a bigger biological purpose – to give us the proper energy and nutrients to make it through our day. Foods should fuel us and make us feel vibrant, not make us lethargic and unhealthy.
Here are 7 foods that are making you age too quickly:
1. Refined sugar
When you eat excess amounts of refined sugar, it kickstarts a process known as glycation. In this process, the sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and forms new, toxic molecules called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, for short. “As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion,” explains Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in Miami and New York City and author of 10 Minutes 10 Years.
Too much sugar damages collagen and elastin, which help to keep skin firm and radiant. When collagen becomes damaged, it causes skin to become dry, brittle, and loose, accelerating the appearance of aging. Not to mention, AGEs lower your body’s natural ability to produce antioxidant enzymes, which makes the skin more susceptible to sun damage, a major contributor to skin aging.
Drinking a glass of wine or two with dinner a few nights a week probably won’t hurt you, but drinking excessively can damage many parts of your body, including your skin. Alcohol dehydrates the body, so your skin will appear dry and brittle after consuming one too many drinks the night before. Not to mention, alcohol greatly taxes the liver, which normally would help to carry toxins out of the body. However, when you consume a lot of alcohol, the liver can’t break it down properly, which means those toxins will spread throughout your body, including to your skin. Many people who drink regularly have skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or wrinkles.
While many celebrations and festivities center around this all-American food, a slab of heavily burnt meat doesn’t exactly do your body good. Because barbecued meats have to slow cook for hours on end, this produces a multitude of carcinogens and pro-inflammatory hydrocarbons, which can cause inflammation in the skin. Peter Guengerich, a biochemistry professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, says that “our bodies have enzyme systems that convert these into reactive compounds, things that get stuck irreversibly on your DNA and can cause mutations and potentially cancer, most commonly colon cancer.”
While we need salt to survive, consuming about 1,500 milligrams a day can leave you feeling bloated and lethargic, and make your body retain water. If you continuously eat a high salt diet and don’t drink adequate water to flush out the excess salt, it can really take a toll on your skin, as it will cause dehydration. Make sure to eat foods that have naturally occurring salt, and add a minimum amount on to foods if you enjoy a salty taste.
5. Processed meat
Recently linked to cancer by the World Health Organization, processed meats such as bacon, ham, and sausage have been proven to also accelerate aging. These meats have a slew of chemical additives, such as nitrates, monosodium glutamate, and other dangerous substances that only lower the immune system and create disease. Processed meats usually contain a great amount of salt also, which can make the skin brittle and puffy looking.
If you still eat meat, make sure to get organic, grass-fed meats without added chemicals and preservatives.
6. Caffeinated beverages
While it seems our world runs on coffee, the caffeine in it has a very drying effect on the skin. Drinking too many cups a day can leave you dehydrated, causing your skin to lack luster and look dull. Dr. Deborah Wattenburg, a dermatologist from New York City, says, “Alcohol and caffeine … act like a diuretic and prevent you from holding on to water, so your skin looks sort of prune-like. It can get dry and get washed out.”
Try limiting your coffee intake to one or two cups a day, and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
7. Trans fats
While many reasons exist to avoid trans fats, the fact that they can accelerate aging should be enough to steer clear of them. According to a study on PubMed, trans fats can increase the risk of UV radiation induced oxidative damage, which makes you more vulnerable to harmful rays from the sun. Trans fats have been removed from many foods due to the dangers associated with consuming them, but make sure to read all labels just in case.
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