10 surprising foods that can give you wrinkles
1 – Tea
It’s an undeniable fact that for many of us caffeine is the fuel that powers us through our day and our mid-morning cuppa is as much a part of our routine as brushing our teeth or putting the bin out. The problem is that tea, or more specifically, the milky builder’s tea that so many of us are fond of here in the UK, is riddled with pro-ageing properties.
Among these, caffeine of course takes centre stage. Caffeine is a problem because it can act as a diuretic and, if you’re not drinking enough water, it could contribute to dehydration – never good news for your skin! It also doesn’t help that caffeine can inhibit your absorption of certain skin-boosting nutrients such as magnesium and iron, plus caffeine can actually linger in your system for a long time. That post-work cuppa at 4pm? It could still be affecting you come 10pm when you’re trying to get to sleep!
My quick fix: Surviving without at least one of cup of tea a day is probably a lot to ask so I’m not going to say boycott your Tetley’s completely. Provided you keep your intake limited to the morning and drink plenty of water to compensate, you should be fine, though it’s still worth considering alternatives. Green tea still contains caffeine but it’s also rich in antioxidants (it actually made it to my list of best anti-ageing foods!) so this is a good option. Just like milky tea though, avoid drinking this too late in the day and, if you still find yourself reaching for a tea bag after 2pm, why not consider our caffeine-free coffee substitute Bambu?
2 – Cheese
Mozzarella, gorgonzola, brie…when it comes to cheese, we’re spoiled for choice and most of us aren’t afraid to add it to our sandwiches, serve it over savoury biscuits or sprinkle some over bolognaise. Unfortunately, you’re going to want to avoid being too generous as cheese definitely isn’t a good accompaniment for ageing skin. It’s contains a decent amount of dairy which, in great amounts, can encourage inflammation however, cheese is also rich in another dubious ingredient you might not have thought about – salt! In small amounts, salt is actually quite beneficial for your body but in high quantities it can interfere with your blood pressure, kidney function and even contribute to water retention. This means your skin can appear puffier and more swollen, especially the delicate skin under your eyes!
My quick fix: These days many brands are offering low fat and dairy-free versions of foods such as cheese but I would still recommend giving these a wide berth if possible. These types of products often contain additives and preservatives that aren’t much better (and are often worse!) than what is found in the original food. Instead, moderate your intake – the odd cheese sandwich isn’t going to do much damage but if your life revolves around pizza, mascarpone and goat’s cheese tartlets, it might be time to reassess your diet!
3 – Cereal
Do you start your day with a bowl of cereal? Most of us do but the problem is that not all cereals are created equal – one example that springs to mind is the nutritional value of Lucky Charms! Nevertheless, even cereals that at first glance might appear healthy often contain plenty of unwanted ingredients. Granola might seem like a pretty safe option but some brands contain more sugar than a can of cola! If you’ve read my blog ‘The bitter truth about sugar and your skin’ you’ll know that sugar is definitely not good news for your skin but this is exacerbated in ageing skin as sugar contains advanced glycation end products or AGEs for short. These compounds can speed up the ageing process of skin – definitely not what you want.
My quick fix: It’s useful to pay attention to the labelling. Cereals aren’t only known for concealing sugar but also a surprising amount of salt too. You’re always better going for organic options that are as close to their original form as possible. Personally, I think porridge is a pretty good option if you’re looking to kick-start your day as oats provide a slow, steady release of energy as opposed to the rapid hit and crash associated with sugar, plus these also contain plenty of fibre! If you want some ideas about some healthy breakfast options, I’ve selected a few of my favourites from our Recipe hub.
Spiced Porridge Two Ways
Overnight Passion Fruit Chia Seed Pudding
4 – Red wine
I’m sorry but, despite the hype surrounding red wine, it may not be as good for your skin as you might think! I cover this entrant a bit more in my blog ‘Is drinking red wine good for ageing skin?’ so I’d definitely recommend reading this if you want the full details. Here, I’ll just say that while red wine does contain some antioxidants, it’s also a form of alcohol and any form of alcohol is going to impact your liver function and ultimately encourage the type of inflammation that can take a toll on ageing skin.
My quick fix: As with everything, moderation is crucial. The odd glass of red wine every now and again shouldn’t affect you too much but, if you’re drinking it on a regular basis, then problems may occur. If you are going to be drinking red wine, as always, I’d advise making sure you keep a glass of water handy. Not only will this help to ease any potential hangover, it will also ensure that you avoid becoming dehydrated.
5 – Ham
Ham, similar to cheese, is a popular filling option for sandwiches and rolls but just like cheese, it’s also perhaps something you might want to reconsider. Ham is a very processed form of meat so it has little to offer in the way of nutritional value besides some protein. It’s also extremely high in salt which, as I’ve mentioned, is a recipe for puffy skin. Plus, similar to other processed meats, it may also contain a preservative known as sodium nitrate. This chemical may help to keep your ham fresh but it also contributes to the breakdown of collagen, a key structural protein that your skin needs in order to maintain its health and elasticity.1 Unfortunately ham isn’t the only culprit here – bacon, cured meats, pepperoni etc. also share this problem.
My quick fix: A little ham here and there is fine but there are plenty other sandwich fillings out there so why limit yourself? Variety is essential for a healthy diet, especially if you’re trying to support your skin so don’t just stick to the same old option each day. Soup, salads, dhal – all of these are fantastic, tasty and bursting with nutrients to help combat premature ageing so why not try to include more of these into your day to day routine?
6 – White bread
Carbohydrates have, unfortunately, gained something of a poor reputation in recent years, with many trying to cut them out of their diets completely. This is a shame as carbohydrates are a crucial form of energy and often contain plenty of fibre and B vitamins to help support your metabolism and digestive problems. The real problem with carbohydrates are refined carbohydrates which have been stripped completely of these beneficial properties – think white bread, white rice, white pasta, cakes etc.
I’m choosing to focus more on white bread here because it’s more widely consumed on a regular basis. This particular form of refined carbohydrates, like cheese, contains AGEs which can age your skin plus, it may also have a negative influence on your friendly gut bacteria, affecting your digestion and how you absorb certain nutrients.
My quick fix: If you’re worried about your intake of refined carbs but don’t want to give up bread completely, a simple compromise would be to convert to brown or wholemeal varieties instead. These still retain their inherent nutrients like fibre and B vitamins so they’re a much better option from a nutritional standpoint and shouldn’t upset your skin or contribute to the overall ageing process.
7 – Fizzy water
In her blog, ‘Could fizzy water make you fat?’ our Nutritionist Emma analyses fizzy water in a bit more detail, delving into research which has linked this popular drink to weight gain. According to the findings of this research, fizzy drinks can increase your levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, which ultimately results in cravings and snacking. While binging on sugary, carb-heavy foods certainly isn’t great for ageing skin, these types of drinks also contain a variety of sweeteners.
On the whole, artificial sweeteners are often used in ‘low sugar’ products as a way of providing sweetness but without the drawbacks. The problem is that sweeteners aren’t that good for our health either – they can place pressure on the liver and affect our population of friendly gut bacteria which in turn can influence the health of our skin.
My quick fix: The taste of plain, still water isn’t for everyone; that’s why there’s such a demand for alternatives in the first. Instead of relying on drinks like fizzy water though, it might be best if we look at ways to make water more appealing. Fruit infuser bottles have risen in popularity recently and for good reason. This style of bottle allows you to infuse your water with fresh fruit, providing a sweet flavour but without any of the harmful additives or sweeteners!
8 – Spicy foods
Spicy foods aren’t inherently bad – in fact, spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon all have potent health benefits but, when it comes to ageing, food quantity and quality matter. One of the big, unavoidable issues with spicy foods is that they inevitably raise your body temperature and, as a result, dilate your blood vessels. If you suffer from a skin condition like rosacea, this can be a major problem and you may experience flushes, irritation and redness; however these symptoms aren’t exclusively linked to rosacea sufferers. During menopause, for example, women may find that their blood vessels are more sensitive which means that spicy foods may have a reaction here too.
My quick fix: Okay, if you’re a fan of ordering a curry at the weekend, it might be time to look at adjusting this habit. Not only do take-away curries share the same problems as above, they’re also loaded with extra fats and salts too! Preparing your curry at home is definitely the way to go if you’re craving some spice but try to keep things mild or make it an occasional treat.
9 – Tinned soups and sauces
Do you rely on tinned soups and ready-made sauces when you’re in a hurry? They may seem ideal for a quick-fix but these types of pre-packaged foods can be disastrous for your skin. They generally tend to be heavily processed which means that not only are you not getting the nutrients from the original food, you’re also getting a heap of extra preservatives, additives, sweeteners, sugars and salt! All of these can encourage the breakdown of collagen which inevitably causes your skin to lose its lustre, becoming less firm and more prone to fine lines – hello wrinkles!
My quick fix: It’s not always easy to cook from scratch – it requires time and that’s not something most of us have a lot of. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with relying on the odd quick fix for dinner but if you have time at the weekend, it’s great to try and batch cook so you have meals prepared throughout the week. This ensures you have a nice supply of home cooked food, plus it’s definitely kinder on your skin!
10 – Chips
Chips accompany a lot of meals here in the UK – fish, steak and ale pie, macaroni cheese – the list could go on and on! Is this British staple really that healthy for your skin though? Well, unfortunately, as with most fried foods, chips are rich in transfats that can raise your bad LDL cholesterol whilst simultaneously lowering good HDL cholesterol. This might increase your risk for heart disease but it also raises your level of inflammation – one of the primary enemies of your skin, especially if you also suffer from a condition like acne or eczema!
My quick fix: Ideally you should be limiting your intake of frozen or ready-made chips to at the very most, a couple of meals a week. If you do find yourself struggling to find another suitable accompaniment for meals, then why not try creating your own roast vegetables? Sweet potatoes, carrots or even kale are great options here and, provided you use an organic, extra virgin oil such as olive oil or coconut oil, they are a healthier alternative to traditional chips.