December 03, 2023
You’ve probably heard about foods that are anti-aging, such as the good fats found in avocados and good quality olive oil, cold water fatty fish such as mackerel, anchovies and salmon as well as walnuts and other nuts. But you might not realize there are also foods that can actually speed up aging, particularly when it comes to your skin, so you definitely want to avoid these!
There are a lot of factors that can affect how fast you age, including your genetics (no control over that!), how well you manage stress in your life, whether you smoke or not, how much air pollutants you are exposed to, how much exercise you get, whether or not you get enough high-quality sleep and what you eat. But since what you eat is one of the easiest things to change, let’s start there.
Many of the aging factors we listed above have to do with inflammation. When the levels of inflammation in your body go up, this can not only cause premature aging of your cells, but it can also directly interfere with your immune system’s ability to fight off disease. So, it makes sense that you will want to choose foods that have anti-inflammatory effects and avoid ones that promote inflammation.
So which foods are particularly bad when it comes to accelerating overall aging, as well as aging your skin? Let’s take a look:
One - Charred Meats
Who doesn’t like a cookout? But use caution, because black char that sometimes forms on that grilled burger likely contains pro-inflammatory hydrocarbons, which can induce inflammation and lead to collagen breakdown and can have other harmful effects. But you don't have to completely avoid barbecued meats. Simply make sure to remove any charred portions and clean the grill thoroughly before your next use.
Two – Processed Meats
Processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, salami, and others, are high in sodium as well as unhealthy saturated fat. Plus, they are filled with additives such as sodium nitrate. These foods are also very high in calories. Choose lean turkey or chicken instead of processed meats or cold-water fatty fish like salmon.
Three - Fried Foods
Fried foods are known to be rich in Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) and can cause inflammation, potentially damaging the skin as well as harming your health. The markers for AGEs can spike up to an alarming 200 times when foods are cooked at high temperatures, as is the case with frying. Consider enjoying fried foods in moderation and exploring alternative cooking methods, such as baking or mashing potatoes instead of frying them.
Four - Alcohol
Drinking too much can cause all sorts of age related problems including memory loss, high blood pressure, heart problems and an increased risk of cancer. Substitute sparkling water, mineral water or unsweetened black or herbal iced tea.
Five – Trans Fats
Trans fats are not only associated with elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease but may also have adverse effects on your skin by promoting inflammation. Be vigilant when reading food labels; even if a product claims "0 grams trans-fat," it can still contain up to 0.5g of artificial fats. Hence, it's wise to minimize consumption of products that include partially hydrogenated oil in their ingredient list.
Six - Sugar
Sugar accelerates the ageing of skin by negatively affecting our collagen molecules. We all know that collagen and elastin are what make our skin soft, supple and resilient. Sugar causes the collagen molecules to “cross link” (known as advanced glycation end-products or AGEs). This cross linking causes their cell structures to harden, become malformed and lose their normal function. The result is that we see a loss of elasticity, sagginess as well as increases in wrinkles and dark spots on the skin. This process also negatively affects our skin's antioxidants.
Yes, all of these foods accelerate aging, but does that mean you can never have a hot dog again? The occasional indulgence is ok, but it’s when you make these foods a regular part of your diet is what will get you into trouble. As in all things, moderation is the key!
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