While we would all love to live in denial on this issue, aging—and wrinkles—are, unfortunately, an inevitable part of life. Chances are, you already know that getting too much sun is a primary aging accelerator, but what you may be unaware of is that certain foods (even seemingly harmless ones) can have the same effect.
While it is not possible to turn back the clock or slow the effects of aging (naturally, at least), it is possible to keep things off your plate and out of your cup that speed up the process. Check out the 7 foods and drinks that age the skin so you can minimize their effect or cut them out entirely. Looking to keep your metabolism humming along even in old age? Don’t miss these 20 Foods That Turn Back Your Metabolic Clock.
When it comes to our daily dose of sugar, less of it is coming from foods like cookies and donuts than you think. A lot of it is hiding in less-than-obvious places like bread, turkey and yup, you guessed it, yogurt! The Yoplait Original flavored yogurt line, for example, has over 25 grams of sugar in each 6-ounce container. That’s more sugar than you’d find in an entire bag of Dark Chocolate Peanut M&MíS! When we consume the sweet stuff, it links to the amino acids in collagen and elastin (the proteins that keep skin looking firm, supple and young) and breaks them down. The result: The skin becomes less elastic and begins to sag. Need another reason to cut back? According to a 2010 Clinics in Dermatology study, sugar exacerbates the sun’s UV aging effects! Yikes!
Drinking a caffeinated beverage out of a straw—how most of us down our daily iced coffee—is a skin-aging double-whammy. During the day, we are exposed to skin-stressors like UV rays, but while we sleep our cells repair themselves. Too much caffeine can interfere with sleep quality, cutting into this rejuvenation time and prematurely aging the skin. What’s more, in a 2010 Acta Clinica Croatica journal article, researchers explain how repetitive facial movements, like sipping through a straw, can causes fine lines and wrinkles. Instead of sucking down an iced coffee, sip on hot green or black tea, which may ward off wrinkles by fighting inflammation and improving the skin’s elasticity.
Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges make for a refreshing, healthy snack or tasty drink addition—especially on hot days. But beware: If juices from these refreshing fruits drip onto your skin while you’re preparing or munching on them, they can act as topical photosensitizers and lead to horrible, skin-aging sunburns, according to a 2012 Journal of Travel Medicine study. Not only could a serious sunburn cause liver spots and wrinkles, this type of burn may also cause a painful, prickling, burning sensation. Ouch!
Bad news, bacon lovers: This beloved breakfast food may make your skin saggy. Sixty-eight percent of bacon’s calories come from fat, with almost half of that being the saturated variety. Besides contributing to weight gain and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, saturated fats can cause inflammation which accelerates skin aging. Bacon and other processed meats also contain sodium nitrate which, according to a 2013 study published in the journal European Cytokine Network, enhances oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause structural changes in collagen and elastin (the proteins that keep skin looking young), resulting in premature wrinkles, explains St. Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology researchers. Luckily, you don’t have to give up bacon altogether to keep your skin smooth. Just switch to a nitrate-free variety with less than 2 grams of fat and no more than 1 gram of artery-clogging saturated fat (like Applegate Natural Good Morning Bacon) and cut yourself off after two slices.
Cocktails, Beer & Wine
Have you ever noticed how parched you are after a night out at the bar? Not only are your taste buds hankering for some hydration, so is your skin. The dehydration temporarily makes fine lines more noticeable and, over time if you continue to booze, causes skin to lose elasticity and form wrinkles. Plus, according to a review published in the journal Nutrients, alcohol can negatively affect vitamin A levels in both chronic and social drinkers. Since the vitamin helps skin produce collagen and regenerate cells, deficiencies can cause skin sagging.
Butter alternatives like margarine are often made with partially-hydrogenated oils, one of the most common trans-fats. You may have heard that this type of fat is linked to heart disease, but what most people don’t know is that it may also accelerate the skin’s aging process. How? According to a 2014 animal study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, trans-fatty acids make the skin more vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation, which damages the skin’s elastin and collagen. Other studies have found that margarine can cause chronic inflammation, which may also accelerate wrinkle formation.
Frozen Dinners and Pizzas
A cutting-edge study published in 2013 found a link between high blood pressure and skin aging. Compared to their older-looking counterparts, female study participants with fewer wrinkles also had lower blood pressure. Although the reason for the link is unclear, there’s no harm in cutting back on sodium, which is one the biggest diet contributors to high blood pressure. There are tons of salt-filled foods, but it’s commonly found in excess quantities in frozen dinners and pizzas. U.S. guidelines call for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but popular frozen indulgences like DiGiorno’s Cheese Stuffed Crust Three Meat Personal Pizza dishes out 65 percent of the day’s salt in just one meal. Yikes!