As we navigate through life, our dietary choices play a pivotal role not just in our health, but in how we age—inside and out. From the radiant glow of our skin to the vitality that courses through our veins, what we put on our plates can either be our greatest ally or our biggest foe. It turns out, indulging in that extra slice of cake or daily frappe can have more consequences than just an uptick on the scale.

If keeping a youthful essence and avoiding the fast track to aging sounds like your goal, it’s time to get familiar with the foods and drinks that could be secretly sabotaging your efforts. Here’s the lowdown on what to enjoy in moderation and what to skip to keep feeling and looking vibrant.

*Information in this article is not intended as medical advice

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Soda & Energy Drinks

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Sugary drinks are like a fast lane for aging, thanks to their high fructose content which can mess with your liver, lead to insulin resistance, and boost belly fat. They’re also notorious for promoting the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can accelerate skin aging. Swap them out with water or herbal teas to keep hydration up and sugar levels down.

Alcohol

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Alcohol might be the life of the party but it’s no friend to aging. It dehydrates your body and skin, disrupts your sleep patterns, and can lead to liver damage over time. Regular consumption can also affect the body’s vitamin A levels, crucial for cell regeneration and turnover. Moderation is key, or opt for mocktails to enjoy the social vibe without the aging aftermath.

Fried Food

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Fried foods are delicious but a nightmare for aging. They’re loaded with trans fats that increase bad cholesterol and risk for heart diseases. Plus, the oil breakdown process forms AGEs, speeding up the skin’s aging process. Lean towards baking or steaming your meals instead for a healthier twist. Or, at least enjoy fried foods on occasion at home where you control the oil being used and how frequently it’s swapped out.

Chips

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Chips, while a go-to snack, are often high in salt and trans fats, contributing to dehydration, bloating, and high blood pressure. This combo can lead to vascular health issues, affecting your skin’s elasticity and youthfulness. Reach for unsalted nuts or homemade popcorn as a crunchy alternative. And yes, this applies to veggie chips and most newer plant-based options marketed as “healthy” too.

Store-bought Smoothies & Juices

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While they sound healthy, store-bought smoothies and juices can be sugar bombs, leading to spikes in insulin and contributing to cellular aging. Many lack the fiber found in whole fruits, which is essential for slowing down sugar absorption. Making your own smoothies at home lets you control the sugar and keep the fiber intact.

Flavored Yogurt

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Flavored yogurts often hide a ton of added sugar, negating the health benefits of yogurt. High sugar intake can lead to inflammation, which accelerates aging. Opt for plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey for a healthier, skin-friendly snack.

Charred Meat

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Charred meat carries polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), compounds that can cause inflammation and increase cancer risk. These compounds are also implicated in accelerating aging. Stick to less charred cooking methods or marinate meat to reduce PAH and HCA formation.

Trans Fats

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Trans fats are industrial fats linked to heart disease, inflammation, and higher LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, all of which can speed up aging. They’re found in many processed foods, so reading labels and opting for whole, unprocessed foods is a healthier choice. If you’re still using margarine, this is your wake up call to switch to a healthier fat source.

Salty Foods

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Excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure and strain on your kidneys, heart, and blood vessels, contributing to faster aging. It can also dehydrate you, making your skin look older. Season with herbs and spices instead of salt to keep the flavor but lose the health risks. If you’re eat a whole food diet this isn’t something to worry about. Process foods and frozen meals are notorious for higher sodium levels.

Processed Meat

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Processed meats are high in preservatives and salts, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease risks. They also contain AGEs, promoting faster aging. Swap processed meats for leaner cuts or plant-based proteins to support a more youth-preserving diet.

Coffee

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Coffee in moderation can be beneficial, but too much can dehydrate you and may contribute to the breakdown of collagen in your skin, leading to wrinkles and sagging. Stick to 1-2 cups a day and hydrate well to counterbalance the effects.

Agave

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Agave nectar, despite its natural image, is high in fructose, which can lead to insulin resistance and liver stress, speeding up the aging process. Use natural sweeteners like stevia or enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits instead.

12 Foods Containing The Most Pesticides That You Should Buy Organic

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It turns out that the crunch of an apple or the sweetness of strawberries might come with an unwanted extra: pesticides. These chemicals, aimed at keeping pests and diseases at bay, tend to linger more on some fruits and veggies than others. Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists the “dirtiest,” most heavily sprayed foods. Here’s what to avoid this year or choose their organic counterparts.

See Them Here: 12 Foods Containing The Most Pesticides That You Should Buy Organic

10 Foods Safe To Leave Out Overnight And Still Enjoy

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Ever found yourself wondering if that pizza slice is still good after spending the night on the counter? We’ve all faced the late-night dilemma of whether to fridge it or risk it. Here’s a list of foods that can safely hang out on your counter overnight and still be tasty and safe to eat the next day. No more need to guess!

See Them Here: 10 Foods Safe To Leave Out Overnight And Still Enjoy

Top 10 Most Common Food Safety Mistakes People Make At Home

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Navigating kitchen safety can sometimes feel like walking through a minefield of dos and don’ts. Let’s shed some light on the common food safety mistakes that sneak into our daily routines. By understanding and adjusting these small, often overlooked actions, we can significantly improve our food handling practices and keep our kitchens and families safe.

See Them Here: Top 10 Most Common Food Safety Mistakes People Make At Home

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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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