8 Foods That Can Make You Age Faster

Updated: Apr. 21, 2020

Nutritionists share the foods you should avoid, from baked goods to alcohol, which can make you age faster.

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Foods that can make you age faster

You are what you eat, and that can be true whether you’re talking about your heart, your waistline, or your skin. That’s why nutritionists stress the importance of getting your recommended nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for better overall health and extended longevity.

So exactly what foods should you avoid? Which ones can trigger inflammation and lead you to age faster? Our nutritionists reveal the top 10 culprits and explain how they induce can induce aging. Also, check out the best healthy-eating secrets nutritionists use.

French Cheese Platter with Spanish Dulce de Membrillo as top view on a wooden board


Though every person is different, Amy Shapiro, RD, founder and director of Real Nutrition in New York City, explains some people might age quicker when they eat dairy. Since dairy is one of the most common sensitivities for adults, it’s important to take note of adverse reactions and make a change if necessary. “Dairy foods can cause some individuals to get skin reactions, such as eczema or psoriasis, itchy red, scaly patches on the skin that are red and inflamed,” Shapiro says. “They can exacerbate these skin issues and, oftentimes, when we eliminate dairy, the skin improves.”

Cooked sizzling hot tasty crispy bacon on a skillet ready for breakfast overhead shot
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High-fat proteins

Bacon and sausage may be classic breakfast foods, but they are super high in saturated fats and have trace amounts of trans fats, explains Paul Salter, RD, sports nutrition consultant. Here’s what that means for your body: When you eat these foods, your cholesterol and blood lipids are negatively impacted, contributing to weight gain and inflammation. This is very taxing on your body—and your skin. “High-fat proteins require significant time, energy, and resources to digest and absorb, which ultimately takes resources away from the rest of your body,” he says.

Homemade Nachos with chips salsa guacamole and cheese, overhead view

Super salty foods

A little bit (a tiny little bit) is good for you. However, says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, PhD, who specializes in obesity, child nutrition, and family dynamics and associate clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, it’s important to enjoy salt in moderation, since it can have a negative impact on your body, particularly on your skin. After eating a dinner that’s high in sodium, you’ll likely wake up the next morning looking puffy-faced and even a tad swollen, he explains, since having an overdose of salt causes you to retain water. That’s why he recommends steering clear of too much salt the evening before or the morning of a big presentation at work, an important date, or any other time you want to look and feel your absolute best. If you eat too much, whether at a restaurant or in the dinner your mother-in-law cooked, drink lots of water to undo the damage the following morning. “By the afternoon, you may notice you’re urinating out a lot of that retained water,” he says. Here are 8 more habits that are making you age prematurely.

High angle shot of assorted wine and champagne bottles on a rustic wood table. Horizontal format.
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To retain its firmness and elasticity, your skin needs proper hydration. That’s why anything that takes away that much-needed H20 from your pores can pack on the years. When you throw in the additional side effect of poor sleep hygiene, it’s no surprise that drinking alcohol is bad news for your appearance. As Ayoob explains, a study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology has shown just how much a lack of sleep and dehydration can impact the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “Drinking alcohol can make you sleepy at first, but there’s a rebound effect later on that can prevent good quality, deep sleep,” he notes. “One or two drinks are fine, but more than that also puts a strain on the liver, which is the body’s detox organ.”

Fried donuts on a baking sheet. Donuts lie in several layers.
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Deep-fried food

They’re delicious, sure, but these foods are off-limits to those in search of the fountain of youth. How come? They offer little-to-no nutritional value. Plus, they are often prepared in frying oil that is packed with fat. And while many of the larger fast-food chains have altered their oils to be free of dangerous trans fats, even without it, fried foods present yet another downfall: weight gain. Since nearly all are high in calories, Ayoob says the added pounds won’t do much for your skin’s longevity. It could also make you age sooner than you’d think. Instead, stick with these 12 anti-aging foods that can add years to your life.

Cola in glass with ice from top view on table.

Sugary drinks

There are countless reasons to avoid soda, powdered drink mixes, and other beverages that are filled with sugar. Here’s one more: These gulps aren’t only bad for your health, but they also do damage to your teeth. “Colas contain phosphoric acid, which can speed up erosion to the enamel,” Ayoob says. “Bad teeth will make you appear older than you are, and all those empty calories aren’t doing you any favors either.” He adds that if you need a sugar fix in your coffee, you can substitute Stevia, since it doesn’t contribute to tooth decay. Ayoob points to evidence published in 2016 in the journal Molecules: It suggests Stevia compounds may even be antibacterial. Also, check out these easy food swaps to reduce your sugar intake.

Close up Wooden Chopping Board with Raw Beef Meat on a Rustic Table with Herbs and Spices

Saturated fats

A diet high in red meat, dairy, and cheese can make you look older than your years. That’s because they contain saturated fats that can speed up the clock, says Rebecca Lewis, RD, head dietitian at HelloFresh meal service. “Over-consumption of saturated fats, especially when they are combined with high sugar foods, will contribute to inflammation. Moreover, a diet that is high in both fat and sugar will lead to weight gain, which indirectly creates inflammation in the body.”

Wooden bowl with raw sweet corn and popcorn on wooden background


This movie theater favorite is heavy on the salt and fat. This is especially true if you go for the extra butter or the microwave kind. Therefore it’s important to be mindful of this, but you don’t need to feel completely guilty. Check out the several reasons why eating popcorn is healthy. Make sure you don’t miss the ways dermatologists wake up with younger-looking skin.