The old saying, “You are what you eat” holds true now more than ever.
People who eat a healthy, natural, balanced diet will age more slowly than those who eat sugary, fatty, chemical-laden, and highly artificial food.
Because, as it turns out, certain foods contain ingredients that will accelerate aging, or are processed by your body in such a way that they slow down all of your internal functions and essentially “gum up the works”.
If you’re trying to age gracefully, here are a few of the foods you should avoid whenever possible.
Refined, processed white sugar is one of the worst things you can eat. Not only will it age your skin, but it’ll increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, brain dysfunction, and virtually every other health condition under the sun. And that’s no exaggeration !
The problem with processed sugar is that it’s not only going to cause all these health problems, but it’s very addictive. You’ll begin to develop a taste for sugar and sugary food and drinks that becomes very difficult to overcome. Many even crave sugary foods or develop full-blown sugar addictions .
Cut sugar from your life as much as possible. The less sugar you eat, the healthier you will be!
Sadly, the modern “vegetable oils” that prevail in the Western household (including canola and corn oil, as well as “vegetable oil” from unknown sources) are highly toxic. They are highly processed, with any potential nutrients refined out of them completely in order to extend their shelf life. But what makes them great for cooking makes them bad for our health.
Vegetable oils contain high quantities of Omega 6 fatty acids, which are naturally inflammatory and can have long-term negative repercussions for our health . Our bodies need more Omega 3 fatty acids, but they are much harder to come by. The ideal “ratio” of Omega 6s to Omega 3s is 4 to 1 , but sadly, in our modern diet, we end up eating closer to 10 to 1. And it’s largely thanks to vegetable oils.
Meat protein, and specifically red meat protein, has been proven to accelerate aging . Research has shown that animal proteins activate mTOR, a signaling pathway that increases the risk of cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, and a range of other diseases . It also triggers systemic inflammation that can both reduce your body’s functional performance and accelerate cellular deterioration, as well as contributing to inflammatory diseases.
Review of multiple studies suggested that individuals who followed a low meat, high plant-food diet experience material or marginally material decreases in mortality risk compared to other dietary patterns.
Processed meats are rich in sodium (which can contribute to high blood pressure and hypertension), saturated fats (which raise your cholesterol levels and can lead to heart attacks and strokes), and sulfites (which are known to cause cancer and will impair your gut microbiome) .
As if that’s not already bad enough, when you cook processed meat (especially at high temperatures), chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed. These chemicals are known mutagens, affecting your DNA and even changing it. They are also known to increase cancer risk. 
Alcohol contributes to aging in a number of different ways.
To begin with, it impairs liver function, which reduces your body’s efficiency at purging toxins and chemicals. Over the years, aging accelerates to liver breakdown, which means the strain on this critical organ will increase.
Alcohol is also known to decrease lean body mass , which in turn leads to increase in weight gain and a decrease in metabolic rate. Alcohol contributes to higher obesity rates thanks to its high calorie and sugar content, which then leads to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol can even affect your skin. Research has linked higher alcohol consumption among American women to rosacea , as well as acne. Some eczema patients even report that drinking alcohol makes their skin condition worse due to allergic or strong immune reactions .
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Energy drinks are rich in caffeine, a potent stimulant that can have positive effects on your health but also very negative ones. In particular, caffeine can act as a diuretic, flushing water from your body and increasing your risk of dehydration. When you don’t have enough fluids in your system, your skin is unable to release toxins, can’t produce enough collagen, and is at greater risk of wrinkles, dryness, and psoriasis.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, energy drinks also often contain a lot of refined sugars, which we talked about above. If you’re including energy drinks in your diet, it’s a good idea to cut them out starting now.
Spicy foods aren’t necessarily bad for your body overall—on the contrary, the capsaicin in spicy foods can improve circulation, boost your metabolism, and decrease your appetite .
However, be aware that spicy foods cause your blood vessels to dilate (and sometimes swell), which has been known to cause breakage in your capillaries. People suffering from rosacea will find they usually experience a flare-up following spicy foods. It’s not the best for your skin if you’re already showing signs of aging.
Grilled meat—and really any meat cooked at very high heat—often contains, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chemicals that are known to cause or contribute to cancer . HCAs are produced when the amino acids and creatine in the meat respond to high heat, while PAHs are produced when the fat burns.
It’s not a problem you have to worry about with grilled vegetables, only meat. Keep this in mind next time you’re planning your backyard BBQ menu.
White flour, and especially white flour bread, is rich in calories but contains virtually zero nutritional value. It’s also a high-glycemic food that will spike your blood sugar, because it has no fiber to slow the uptake of glucose in your blood. That should be enough to explain why it’s on our list—it’ll raise your risk of obesity, heart disease, and insulin resistance without really nourishing your body at all.
But what really makes white bread and any refined white flour products dangerous is the way they cause AGEs to form when mixed with other foods. AGEs , or advanced glycated end-products, form when refined flour mixed with proteins. The combination of refined carbs and protein results in these AGEs, which can trigger inflammation and increase oxidative stress.
Essentially, that white bread and sliced ham sandwich will speed up your aging far more than you realized!
On its own, salt isn’t inherently dangerous. It’s really only when you eat it to an excess that it can start to cause problems—beginning with water retention and leading to high blood pressure, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
Research has shown  that people who consume more sodium age faster biologically—in fact, their biological age is often higher than their chronological age. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they’re also at higher risk for chronic disease and premature death.
Definitely a good idea to scale back the amount of salt you use in your cooking!
If your goal is to age gracefully and enjoy a long, healthy life, it’s high time to cut or decrease your intake of these foods. You’ll find that scaling back consumption can go a long way toward helping to mitigate disease risk, and anything that helps you clean up your diet and eat better-quality, more natural food will always benefit your health.
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