Foods that Accelerate the Appearance of Aging
“You are what you eat” is a phrase supporting the numerous effects food and drink play within our physiology. Food stuff can affect how we feel, how effectively we engage mental or physical work, and even how we look. Not all sources of edible products are created equal and they all can have different effects on the systems of our body and even impact our organs, bones, connective tissues, fat stores and muscle. While some nutrients provide age-protecting benefits and assist in improving many aspects of health, others function to the contrary. There exist a few nutrient sources that seem to accelerate the aging process through a number of means when over-consumed in the diet. These foods consequently provide the consumer with the risk of aging more rapidly than their chronological age would indicate. Regular consumption and high doses increase the effects, so consumers should be aware of the types and quantities of food they are consuming.
The Big Five Problematic Categories
1. Cheap Preservatives – Salt and Sugar
It may seem like no matter what food you buy (unless fresh and unprocessed), salt and sugar find their way to a prominent place on the ingredient list. Two major reasons for this: they taste great and are cheap and effective preservatives. Everyone wants their food to have a long shelf life, but there is a price to pay for this relatively modern convenience. Salt is a major culprit with average intakes in America between 4-6 g per day (less than 2500 mg is recommended). Salt can have a bloating effect (abdomen and/or periphery) when consumed in excess, and may have an effect on collagen when excess intake takes place in the presence of hypertension. Cosmetic dermatologists state that excess salt consumption can increase puffiness around the eyes as well as wrinkles in areas of the body that have thinner layers of skin. Salt’s dehydrating effects negatively impact the appearance of skin anywhere on the body. Avoiding adding salt to foods and reducing processed foods can go a long way in reducing its impact. Excess sugar intake on the other hand may be worse, and for most Americans sugar represents nearly 25% of dietary intakes (it should be <10%). Dermatologists believe that excess simple carbohydrates (CHOs) in the diet can (1) cause the skin to produce extra oil due to insulin dynamics which may contribute to acne, and (2) have an impact on capillaries near the skin that hastens the aging process, especially in the face. Furthermore, elevated consumption of high-glycemic foods with ample quantities of simple CHOs, such as white breads and pastas, can create inflammatory reactions in the skin and additional production of free radicals – another major culprit of collagen breakdown. Collagen keeps skin strong and elastic so that it holds its form and does not sag; among many other functions. Overall, dermatologists state that if you appropriately reduce your sugar and salt intake you should experience clearer skin and a more vibrant and healthy skin tone. While cosmetic appearance is one age-reflective factor, the insides are what counts. Higher intakes of sugar increased risk for saturated fat production and adipose storage, whereas salt can negatively affect the cardiovascular system.
2. Pick-me-ups and Calm-me-downs – Coffee and Alcohol
Unfortunately coffee not only stains your teeth but can also have dehydrating effects when consumed as a staple to one’s diet. Direct or indirect dehydration can increase the prominence of wrinkles around the eyes. Some health professionals recommend drinking green tea instead due to its potent antioxidant properties that are beneficial for the skin (green tea extract is often included in skin care products). Coffee can certainly help the busy professional get through the day, but one should consume it is moderation and attempt to maintain optimal hydration. Alcohol is even more potent as it is a toxin that contains calories, and has direct dehydrating effects in response to adrenal hormones. Since alcohol is a toxin, it negatively affects organs and consequently appearance through the overall negative effects on the body when consumed in excess. Furthermore, it can increase the desire for salty foods, which then can make you thirstier, so you drink another beer. Combine the salt with the excess alcohol and you have a double-whammy as it relates to the appearance of the skin and risk for hypertension as alcohol reduces blood plasma.
3. The Wrong Meats – Excess Beef and Processed Products
Red meat contains healthy nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12, but according to a recent study from the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute eating it more than once a week is linked to wrinkling, as well as serious health risks. According to the research, the high level of carnitine found in beef can harden vascular walls, causing skin to crease prematurely. Likewise the charring serves as a carcinogenic. Red meat though does not have the “aging repercussions” of popular processed meat products. Most deli meats and hot dogs are pro-inflammatory due to the sulfites and other compounds used to preserve them. The inflammatory reactions can trigger conditions such as rosacea, or make the skin look ruddy in some areas and shallow in others. Any other processed “meat products” (e.g., Spam) can have similar effects. Interestingly, processed meats are also associated with the risk for obesity.
4. Soft Drinks
Soda is highly acidic and can therefore wear away tooth enamel and accelerate yellowing/stains. The relatively high sodium content in most soft drinks also promotes dehydration. Furthermore, most soft drinks are also infused with notable quantities of caffeine. Soft drinks do not equate to water.
5. Any “Fake” Foods
Trans fat is a good example. Trans fat is a manufactured form of fat used to increase the function of the lipid during food product processing. Therefore, it is primarily found in processed selections such as fast food, some peanut and other vegetable-based butters, as well as numerous pastries. It can have a major impact on the aging process due to its numerous negative effects on cardiovascular health. With minimized vascular function collagen elasticity can be reduced. On the other hand natural monounsaturated fats (olive oil) are rich in vitamin E, which helps stabilize cellular walls and protect against oxidation and free radicals that age skin. Many other processed foods have similar effects.
Clearly the aforementioned foods are not going to make a top five best choice list unless your goal is becoming overweight or diseased; nonetheless, they are common staples of the American diet. Clients should be educated to the pitfalls of a diet that promotes dehydration and inflammation, not only for vanity-related purposes, but for overall health and wellbeing.