There's plenty you can do, short of surgery, to reduce signs of aging. The key? Pampering your skin's inner structure, the collagen and elastin fibers that keep your face looking firm.
What Causes It
Sun exposure, smoking, genetics, aging, skimping on produce and "good" fats, eating a diet high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, and other factors all conspire to erode collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin smooth, flexible, and firm.
When dermatologists checked the skin and diets of 453 people from Australia, Greece, and Sweden, they found that while a healthy diet can't erase damage done by years of unprotected sunbathing or smoking, it can help. Here's what to eat and what to avoid.
Have More of These
Water and tea
Fruit and vegetables
Nuts and nut butters Beans
And Less of These
Cakes and pastries
1. Put more fruits and vegetables on your plate.
When British researchers checked the diets and wrinkles of 4,025 middle-aged women, they found that vitamin C–rich foods reduced the risk of significant wrinkles by 36 percent. This antioxidant vitamin may protect skin by mopping up free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules that damage collagen. Increasing your intake of vitamin C is as easy as having berries or a glass of orange juice at breakfast, red peppers and grapefruit at lunch, and broccoli at dinner. Other studies show that the more produce of all kinds you eat, the lower your odds of wrinkling. 36%: The reduction in your odds of developing deep wrinkles if you eat several servings of vitamin C–rich fruits and vegetables every day.
2. Order salmon when you're dining out.
This bumps up your intake of the good omega-3 fatty acids that the researchers found reduced the risk of old-looking skin by 25 percent. Walnuts, canola oil, fish-oil capsules, and flaxseed are also great sources.
3. Have a cup of sugar-free cocoa.
In one study, antioxidants called epicatechin and catechin in cocoa protected skin from sun damage and boosted circulation to skin cells.
4. Cut back on white bread and sugar.
Each 50-gram increase in your daily carbohydrate consumption (the amount in two eight-ounce soft drinks) increases your risk of wrinkles by 28 percent, according to the British study mentioned earlier. The link may be "advanced glycation end products," molecules made from sugars and proteins that attack collagen as well as elastin, the stretchy protein that keeps skin looking firm.