Reprinted with permission from Rachel Swanson
While staying on top of your skincare regimen is always a good idea, if you want to look and feel your best, it has to start from within. By drinking plenty of water, eating lots of fresh produce, getting enough sleep, and exercising on a regular basis, you can stay healthy and gain a glowing complexion at the same time. Wondering which foods are worth avoiding on your quest to younger-looking skin? Read below to uncover seven major offenders.
A medium cinnamon dolce latte to start the day off doesn't sound so bad, right? Well with 40 grams of sugar, you may want to think twice. How about an afternoon pick-me-up of a medium size frappuccino? With a whopping 85 grams of sugar, that’s definitely asking for a side of premature aging to with it. If this sounds like your daily routine, this habit may also promote Advanced Glycation End Products (ironically, abbreviated as AGEs), which cause damage by cross-linking to proteins like collagen and elastin, the fibers most associated with youthfulness. While AGEs are a normal byproduct of regular metabolism, they become problematic if sugar intake becomes excessively high, predisposing our bodies to oxidative stress and inflammation. At this point, harmful oxidants (free radicals) have exceeded our protective antioxidants. This process, in return, actually creates more AGEs; quite a vicious cycle for our precious skin. When choosing your next latte, be conscientious of the collateral skin damage you might be exposing yourself to.
AGEs also exist in foods. Animal-derived high-fat protein sources are a major source of harmful dietary AGEs and can induce inflammation and oxidative stress similarly to an excess of dietary sugar. Beef surpasses other forms of protein, having the highest amount of dietary AGEs. Moreover, if grilling or frying is your go-to cooking method, this will result in additional AGE formation, too. No need to avoid the BBQ cookouts all together, since there are ways to lower your AGE exposure, like marinating meat in acidic solutions (e.g. lemon, vinegar) prior to grilling, for example. If lowering your overall intake of meat isn't your game plan, simply changing the way food is cooked can also help. Using moist food prep methods like poaching or steaming, as well as briefer cooking times, will dramatically reduce the number of AGEs formed during the cooking process.
These hidden sources of sugar are about to get the spotlight because it’s time to unveil the not-so-sweet details. Just because a product doesn't taste sweet, doesn't mean the nutrition label shouldn't be examined before buying. Even those whole-food based condiments can be packing more sugar than a handful of chocolate. Unfortunately, cutting out the usual sugary suspects in the pantry like cereal or granola is really only half the problem. Experiment by tallying up the amount of sugar in each bottle, can, or container for an entire day — the results will shock you. With higher sugar levels being associated with higher perceived age, you should start checking those nutrition fact panels ASAP. Chronic elevation of blood sugar means collagen and elastin will suffer, a side effect that's not so sweet for the skin.
A large amount of dietary AGE exposure also comes from consuming foods like crackers, chips, and cookies. The use of ingredients like butter, oil, and/or cheese used in the food product which is then topped off with dry-heat processing is found to be a perfect recipe to yield an exceptionally high source of AGEs. A high intake of processed foods with trans fat, high sugar, cholesterol, and salt can only spell trouble. We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that facial appearance may reflect the risk of succumbing to cardiovascular disease since these munchies are major health offenders. Eating an excess of processed/packaged foods can negatively affect blood sugar, blood pressure, chronic inflammation and oxidative damage, so steer clear to do your body a major favor.
We usually associate alcohol with our liver health, but research has shown how detrimental it can be to our delicate skin tissue too. How does this damage occur? There is an increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals, formed in various pathways when alcohol is metabolized. This can be problematic because it can lead to oxidative damage in our skin. Unfortunately, having fewer antioxidants concentrated in the skin provides less protection against UV light when spending time outdoors. This leaves us exposed to a greater risk of sunburn — a fast track to premature skin aging. If you don’t plan to stop enjoying your cocktails anytime soon, then make it a goal to counteract those oxidants with antioxidants! You should bolster up your internal sunscreen because a true anti-aging regimen should start from the inside. Quench those free radicals by choosing smart snacks like fruit, salad, and grilled veggies.
Even though societal trends like putting butter in coffee may seem like a great idea, let’s look at some evidence. Before spreading butter or margarine in and around nearly everything, know that a higher intake of saturated fat has been associated with increased wrinkling. In fact, measured by weight, fats like margarine contain the most dietary AGEs per gram when compared across multiple food groups. If preventing premature aging is your main prerogative, avoid jumping on the butter bandwagon, and keep the usage to a minimum.
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Stay Ever Well,
Lynne + Renee