The old saying "you are what you eat" holds true for your health. And, it turns out, your skin. Fill up on junk like refined carbs, sugar, and trans fats, and well, your skin is going to look like it. A poor diet can cause inflammation, which triggers oxidative stress and in turn damages collagen and DNA, making you look older. Here are the top 10 food offenders to keep off your plate.
1) RICE CAKES
Once hailed by supermodels—and the women who wanted to be them—as the quintessential fat eraser, we now know that rice cakes cause your blood sugar to soar, which speeds up the formation of wrinkles. How? Your body metabolizes the simple carbs in the cakes the same way it does sugar by converting them to glucose. Once they've been converted, they stick to wrinkle-fighting proteins like collagen and damage them.
In our candy craze culture, adolescence is synonymous with pimples. But in countries without diets heavy in processed sugar, kids go through puberty without acne. Even if you're well out of your teen years, this finding is a pretty good indication that the Hersey bar you stash in your desk drawer may be a culprit for your adult breakouts. And to add insult to injury, sugar also degrades collagen and elastin, the proteins that keeps skin soft, supple, and springy.
3) "HEALTHY" CEREAL
Don’t let the virtuous packaging deceive you. While whole grains are generally lower on the glycemic index (a measure of how a food affects blood sugar) compared to white ones, many "healthy" cereals are often highly refined and full of added sugar. And that means they can lead to wrinkle-inducing glucose spikes.
It may do a body good, but your skin? Maybe not.. Especially the skim variety. Milk can be full of growth hormones and growth factors that remain biologically active even after pasteurization. Studies show that they appear to make their way into our blood stream where they can affect insulin, cause inflammation, and ramp up oil production. The result: breakout. Organic milk may be a good alternative, as it contains only regularly occurring hormones instead of added ones that are found in non-organic options, though more research is needed to say for certain whether organic options won’t negatively impact skin.
Teeming with refined carbs, these noshes increase the inflammation that triggers DNA- and collagen-damaging oxidative stress. Over time, you’ll notice more fine lines, wrinkles, and aged appearance. Plus, according to a 2014 study in The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, refined carbs are the main culprit in the rise of adult acne cases.
6) SUGARY SMOOTHIES
Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day; roughly three times the recommended amount. Most come from hidden sources of sugar, and one of the biggest culprits is smoothies. But it’s not the natural sugar found in fruit that’s the problem. Store bought bottled smoothie versions or made-to-order options from chains may include juice, frozen yogurt, or even sherbet in the recipes, all of which are packed with added sugar. If you're making them at home and using only "good-for-you" ingredients like unsweetened nut milk or yogurt, you're safe from the sugar explosion.