4 Foods That Can Make You Look Older

Man looking at his skin in the mirror

Man looking at his skin in the mirror | Source: iStock

It might seem like there are no consequences to eating unhealthy — that is until your diet catches up to you and begins to make you look older than you actually are. While a few bad diet choices won’t hurt you overnight, continuously choosing less nutritionally dense and processed foods can eventually accelerate the aging process. “What you eat affects your skin — for better or worse,” says Ariel Ostad, MD, fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology to Health. Sticking to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding these four foods will help keep you looking youthful for years.

1. Sugar

sugar in a bowl

Sugar | Source: iStock

Eating foods containing sugar can prematurely age you, and can make your skin wrinkled and dull-looking. Prevention explains that a process called glycation, which involves sugar in the bloodstream that attaches to proteins, forms harmful new molecules called “advanced glycation end products” (AGEs), and they are the reason for accelerated aging. In short, the more sugar you eat, the more of these molecules develop, and when they do, the collagen and elastin in your skin become vulnerable to damage. “As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion,” explains dermatologist Fredric Brandt, MD, to Prevention. A diet high in sugar can also affect the type of collagen you have, which Brandt points out also impacts how resistant your skin is to dullness and wrinkling.

This doesn’t mean that you should eliminate natural sources of sugar found in fruits and certain vegetables. It’s refined sugar that you want to avoid.

2. Alcohol

hungover man surrounded by alcohol

Hungover man | Source: Thinkstock

Enjoying a drink on occasion is fine, but when you consistently drink too much it becomes a problem for not only your liver, but also your skin. Here’s exactly what alcohol does to your skin: “It may make us feel good, but alcohol is a hepatotoxin,” says Dr. David Colbert, founder of New York Dermatology group to Huffington Post. “It’s a toxin to the cells that detoxify your body,” he says. “One way to look at it,” he continues, “is to ask what does someone look like who is dying of liver failure? They’re sallow, they’re pasty, they’re cold, their pores are huge.” Keep in mind that the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health & Human Services recommends that men have no more than one to two glasses of an alcoholic beverage per day.

3. Sodium

salt spilling out of a shaker

Salt | Source: iStock

Many of us love salt, sugar, and fat. Our skin though? Not so much. A study from Georgia Regents University found that high dietary sodium intake can accelerate cellular aging, thus leading you to look older than you actually are. The lead scientist of the study, Dr. Haidong Zhu, who observed this process in teenagers, said,”Even in these young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular ageing.” He adds that, “Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular ageing process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease.”

Additionally, salt dehydrates the body. When you are dehydrated, you become fatigued, which makes you look tired and worn out. In addition, excess salt contributes to kidney disease and high blood pressure and interferes with bone metabolism. So how much sodium is too much? According to the Mayo Clinic it is unhealthy to take in more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.

4. Charred meat

Hot dogs and burgers on a grill

Hot dogs and burgers on a grill | Source: iStock

It’s hard to say no to a burger. However, if it has black char on it, it may contain pro-inflammatory hydrocarbons, which Ostad tells Health can be a huge problem because any kind of inflammation breaks down the collagen in your skin. So for the sake of your skin, be sure to scrape the charred parts off before you eat your meat, and clean the grill (if you barbecued) afterwards.

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