What Are AGEs and How Do They Affect the Body?
AGEs (advanced glycation end products) are compounds that form when proteins or fats combine with sugars. Normally, our body has protective mechanisms that help it flush out AGEs in no time, but there are certain foods that contain so much of them that it becomes very difficult for our body to get rid of them in time, especially if you’re consuming them regularly.
When that happens, AGEs start wreaking havoc in the human body by creating oxidative stress, which makes our tissues age faster by breaking down collagen, which is essential to maintain our skin’s firmness.
Apart from that, AGEs have been associated with worsening different degenerative conditions: diabetes, kidney disease, atherosclerosis and even Alzheimer’s.
Keep in mind that it is not necessary to completely cut out foods high in AGEs to combat oxidative stress because, as we mentioned, our bodies know how to deal with them. It is frequent over-consumption that causes skin aging and other negative symptoms.
Do keep an eye on how much of these 11 foods you eat and make sure to eat them in moderation, or even better, replace them with a healthier alternative.
1. Swap White Bread For Sprouted Bread
Apart from containing a lot of AGEs, white bread or any pastry made of white flour is high on the glycemic index, which has been shown to cause inflammation in the body.
A healthy alternative to white bread is any bread made of whole grains or sprouted bread, as it is rich in antioxidants, whose job is to clear out AGEs from the body. These kinds of bread also usually contain much less sugar, so they will not create as many AGEs to begin with.
2. Replace French Fries With Sweet Potato Fries
Very few foods are as bad for your skin, as french fries, as they’re both salty and contain a lot of AGEs because potatoes are rich in sugars and they’re fried in oil at extremely high temperatures. So don’t be surprised if your skin feels extra dry and puffy the morning after you’ve eaten french fries.
A great alternative for french fries are sweet potato fries, especially if you cut down on the saltiness as well. Sweet potatoes contain a lot of copper, which can help counteract the effect of AGEs because it helps collagen production.
3. Instead of White Sugar Use Honey Or Fruit
White sugar is bad for our health for so many reasons: it has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease for at least for the past 50 years, so it is always a great idea to cut down on white sugar or to replace it altogether.
Apart from that, white sugar is a known trigger of acne and other skin concerns, and it can speed up aging by damaging the collagen in the skin. Clearly, it is nearly impossible to cut out added sugar from our diets for most of us, so opt for sweets that contain a lot of beneficial ingredients, such as antioxidants, apart from all the sugar.
All berries, honey and even dark chocolate are rich in antioxidants, and honey even has some antibacterial benefits, so it will aid your skin instead of damaging it.
4. From All the Processed Meats Buy Poultry
Most deli meats, such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage and pepperoni are very high in saturated fats and sulfite, which can decrease the level of collagen in your skin and may even cause inflammation.
To minimize the harm, opt for the leanest meats, such as poultry, which still have a lot of protein and amino acids other meats have, but won’t overload your body with fats.
5. Stop Eating Margarine and Use Olive Oil Or Avocados Instead
Studies have shown that people who consume little to no margarine or butter have less wrinkles and skin damage than those who like to stick to buttering their toast every morning. Margarine is especially harmful, as it contains a lot of trans fats, which can harm your body and promote aging if consumed regularly.
Swapping margarine for olive oil in cooking and replacing it with avocados in sandwiches will benefit your body greatly, as both replacements are especially rich in antioxidants. In fact, several people see benefits from applying avocado and olive oil on their skin topically as well, and many anti-aging and skin-plumping creams contain them as key ingredients.
6. Cut Out Soda and Coffee From Your Diet
Despite the fact that caffeine can depuff your eyes if used in a serum or cream, drinking caffeinated drinks, such as sodas and coffee will only harm your skin, especially if you drink too much of it. This is because caffeine can interfere with your healthy sleep schedule, and poor sleep will make your skin age faster.
On top of that, lattes and sodas contain a lot of added sugar, which we already touched upon above. The good news is that you don’t have to cut out coffee completely, as long as you don’t add a lot of sugar to every cup, just avoid it in the afternoon or before sleep.
7. Consider Limiting Dairy
Dairy is one of those foods that you either love it, or hate it. Some people find that consuming dairy makes their skin and hair oilier or makes them break out, whereas others swear by dairy skin masks and believe it helps them remain young (remember how Cleopatra used to bathe in goats milk to stay young?).
So it all boils down to individual preference and tolerance. Some scientists claim that dairy may increase inflammation in the body and contributes to oxidative stress, whereas others believe that the protein and calcium contained in dairy products can strengthen the skin. We advise you to experiment cutting out dairy for a short while and observing your skin.
Do keep in mind that you will have to compensate for the calcium and proteins if you decide to do that, so stock up on nuts and beans.
8. Limit Alcohol
Alcohol can disrupt your skin’s health in a variety of ways: it can cause redness, puffiness, and wrinkles. It has a lot of sugar, and can even deplete you from essential nutrients, such as vitamin A. The latter is very important for your skin’s health and youthful appearance, as collagen production is impossible without vitamin A.
Apart from that, alcohol is a trigger for rosacea, especially among people of Asian descent, as their bodies often cannot cope with the end products of alcohol, which, in turn, causes redness all over their face and body.
Once again, there is no need to cut out alcohol completely out of your diet to maintain your skin’s elasticity, but limit it to holidays and celebrations and opt for vine, which contains a lot of anti-aging antioxidants.
9. Avoid Frying On Very High Heat
Avoid frying foods at high temperatures if you’re using polyunsaturated oils, such as canola, corn, vegetable or sunflower oil. Bringing these oils to high temperatures can release harmful free radicals, which, in turn, will raise inflammation levels in the skin.
And though it may seem that you’re not consuming a lot of oil, just try blotting the foods you fry on a paper towel and you’ll see for yourself how much of coats your foods. Blotting oil off foods won’t help anyway, as the harmful compounds can penetrate your food.
Instead, choose olive or coconut oil for frying, as it can counteract inflammation and contains vitamin E, essential for skin health.
10. Counteract Fructose With Lipoic Acid
Did you know that agave syrup, the supposedly healthy alternative to sugar, contains more fructose than corn syrup? The bad thing about fructose is that it down collagen quicker than sucrose (regular sugar), so it can speed up wrinkle formation.
Some people, such as diabetics, have to replace sucrose by fructose in their diet, so what they can do is supplement their diet with brussel sprouts. They contain a lot of lipoic acid, a compound that can prevent the breakdown of collagen induced by fructose.
11. Don’t Think Rice Cakes Are Healthy
Rice cakes may be low in calories, but they will not benefit your skin, as they have a high glycemic index, which means that they can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. These spikes are infamously called an “aging accelerator” because it can cause or deepen wrinkles.
If you’re looking for an anti-aging midday healthy snack, it’s better to dip vegetables into some hummus. Carrots and red bell peppers are my personal favorites, as they’re high in vitamin C and carotene, both of which promote skin health and help produce collagen. Chickpeas, on the other hand, are a great source of protein and antioxidants, so it’s a win-win situation for your skin.
To sum up, let’s reiterate that you don’t have to stop eating or drinking any of the foods or drinks in this list completely. Also, we recognize that maturing is a beautiful natural process, and wrinkles are not a bad thing at all. Still, they are a concern for many people, and a healthy diet low in AGEs can promote graceful aging.