It’s often said that you are what you eat, a saying that often refers to how certain foods can make you healthy and strong. When considering the effects some foods can have on the aging process, however, this saying rings a littler truer than you may have realized. Fortunately, many age-related effects linked to your diet can be reversed with some changes to your eating habits.
Damaging Your Skin’s Collagen
The most abundant protein in the body, collagen is what helps your skin stay healthy. It also facilitates the repair of tissue damage to counteract the impact of things like sunlight exposure. Certain foods may damage this important protein to the point where your skin starts to age prematurely. You may notice these effects in the form of sagging skin, frown lines, forehead wrinkles, and neck creases. Foods that can damage collagen include:
• Processed carbohydrates (pasta, bread, baked goods)
• Fried foods, especially those loaded with trans fats
• Processed and fatty meats (hot dogs, bacon)
Sugary Snacks Affect Skin and Teeth
If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to opt for healthy snack choices and save the sweets for an occasional treat. Too much sugar can damage collagen to the point where it’s not helping your skin. You may see more wrinkles as collage becomes damaged. Loading up on sugary snacks also boosts bacteria production in your mouth and may spike blood sugar levels enough to affect your sleep patterns, which means less recuperative sleep for natural tissue repair.
Breaking Down Elastin
It’s actually a different protein called elastin that’s responsible for your skin’s elasticity. Like collagen, it too can be affected by the foods you eat on a regular basis.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Aging
A “liquid diet” of alcoholic drinks will affect your liver. Alcohol takes moisture away from your skin and may contribute to wrinkling. Excessive alcohol consumption also affects your liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body. Acid in white wine may tarnish your smile.
Charred Meat and Inflammation
Hydrocarbons in charred or excessively cooked meat may contribute to inflammation. This added swelling of tissues can lead to the breakdown of collagen. It’s still okay to grill, just scrape the black stuff off before you eat your BBQ creations.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a “consistently poor diet” may age pigments in the skin and contribute to wrinkles and other issues that can affect appearance. Coffee and similar foods with rich coloration can also affect teeth and make you look older.
The solution? Adopt the “everything in moderation” philosophy and include some beneficial nutrients in your diet.