The skin is a mirror of a person’s overall health. It also shows how well you are aging, or not, compared to others your age. Your nutrition habits can either slow or accelerate the aging process, and this article discusses the foods that are the worst offenders.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Gerontology revealed that the appearance of facial skin can reveal more than just one’s age — it is also indicative of one’s health. The scientists concluded that:
Like your body, your skin must be well nourished to stay healthy and vibrant. An unhealthy diet will produce skin that lacks vibrancy, cause poor health, and will accelerate the aging process.
Here are the 5 worst types of foods that will make your skin look older:
Sugar has proved to be one of the most damaging substances to human health and is a major factor in premature aging. Sugars, especially refined sugars that are separated from their whole food form, cause acidity, oxidation, inflammation, glycation and AGEs*, hormone issues, and blood sugar imbalance. These are all involved in causing the aging process and development of disease.
*Glycation happens when sugar gets bound to the proteins and enzymes in your body. Glycation produces "advanced glycation end products" (AGEs), which play an detrimental role in skin aging because your skin's fragile collagen matrix is made from protein. (Read more about The Structure of your Skin.)
Fructose in particular is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent and quickly produces AGEs that accelerate aging. Read your labels! Sugar often comes in many names such as: agave nectar, sugar cane, brown rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, glucose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, etc.
Grains (non-sprouted, glutinous, and refined)
Grains are carbohydrates that when digested, break down into simple sugars in the body (like the ones I just mentioned above). Most grains of today are made into refined flours that are stripped of all nutrients and most fiber. And not only that, they deplete the body of its stored nutrient reserves. The grains wheat, barley, and rye also contain the protein gluten, which causes digestive issues and inflammation. In the “good ol days” people soaked, sprouted, or fermented their grains before using them in order to reduce their natural anti-nutrients such as phytates and lectins. Their grains were not refined and the fiber remained. However, modern-day, refined breads, cereals, pastries, crackers, chips, and pastas are ubiquitous and virtually poison to the health of your skin. (Read my post A Grain of Truth.)
Blood sugar dysregulation is a major player in the development of modern-day chronic diseases and the aging of the skin. Ingesting too many sugary or processed foods, or eating excess amounts of carbohydrates (even fruit) can trigger imbalances in blood sugar. The skin really takes a beating and aging ensues. I recommend learning about the glycemic index and glycemic load of foods, which helps you to understand how various foods affect blood sugar and insulin.
Also, print my convenient Guide to Choosing Carbohydrates.
Unhealthy fats and oils
Fats and oils that are destructive to your health and to the skin are those that cause oxidation and inflammation. These are the fats that contain mainly Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) compared to the amount of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 PUFAs cause health problems because their molecules are unstable and become oxidized or rancid when subjected to heat, oxygen, and moisture when cooked and processed.
In a study on premature aging, of the subjects who ate a diet high in polyunsaturated oils, at least 78 percent showed marked signs of premature aging of the facial skin, with some appearing more than twenty years older than they were!
Most prepared foods and restaurant foods are cooked in unhealthy Omega-6 oils. The fats to avoid completely include: safflower oil, canola/rapeseed oil, margarine, sunflower oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, and cottonseed oil. And note, it is extremely important to avoid the oils and foods that have been hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. These are trans-fats that the body cannot digest.
Print my convenient Guide to Choosing Fats & Oils.
Foods that disrupt gut flora
The health of your digestive system is directly linked to the health of your whole body. There is a whole ecosystem of friendly bacteria in your gut. These beneficial bugs support us in many ways. They help to fight infections and disease, stop diarrhea, manufacture nutrients, digest food, regulate hormones, break down toxins, and absorb nutrients. This ecosystem must be in good balance. If too many bad bacteria inhabit the gut, your health can decline. (Read more.)
Any food, additive, or medication that is designed to kill bad bacteria will also cause imbalances in good bacteria. Conventional meat and dairy products are infamous for this because the animals raised in feedlots are given antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection. Foods sprayed with pesticides (which are designed to kill small pests) cause imbalances in gut flora. Artificial sweeteners can alter the gut microbiome, too (see study). Plus, they trick the body into thinking it’s getting something truly sweet, which can also raise blood sugar levels and cause havoc in the body just like real sugar.
See my guides to choosing the best Meats and Dairy Products.
Foods with toxic ingredients
Is your body a bad science experiment? Many foods contain “economic poisons” – they contain zero nutritional value, just $$$ value to the producer or manufacturer.
Toxins are poisons that contaminate our bodies. However, one does not have to work in a chemical plant to worry about toxins. There have been 80,000 new chemicals introduced since the turn of the twentieth century, most of which have not been tested for safety. Basically, we’re swimming in toxic soup! They contaminate our bodies, but our liver and kidneys usually do a good job to cope with them. Unfortunately, with the unprecedented number of chemicals bombarding us every day, that burden can sometimes outweigh our bodies’ ability to get rid of them effectively. This leads to illness, accelerated aging, and to metabolic/weight problems. (Read more about toxins, how they compromise your health and your weight, and how to lessen your toxic burden here.)
The food-toxin list is quite long. Additives, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, coloring agents, artificial flavorings, chemical sweeteners, synthetic vitamins, emulsifiers, bleaching agents, refined salt, BHA/BHT, added nitrites and nitrates, MSG, sulfites, and toxic plastics are all foreign to the body and harmful to your health. There is also large debate over the efficacy and safety of genetically modified GMO foods. (Read more about how to avoid food toxins in my post here.)
To conclude, the foods to avoid are those that are not in healthy, whole-food form. They are unnaturally refined or full chemicals that harm your health, cause premature aging, and rob your skin of its beauty. Good news! To nourish your skin, I've put together a list of The 10 Best Foods For Beautiful and Youthful Skin. Go check it out!
Want to learn much more?
Take my e-course about the skin & how to age gracefully:
Jenny Yelle, MHNE Holistic Wellness Educator
Hello lovelies! Thanks for visiting Au Naturale Nutrition and sharing my passion for holistic living and whole foods. I love to help my readers take a natural approach to beauty and aging gracefully. Radiate beautiful health!
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