6 Foods that may be causing your wrinkles

Jan 19, 2016 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Image: David Hartwell/Moment/Getty Images

If you don't know that the sun's UV rays contribute to wrinkles, then you must be living under a rock (in which case, then I guess sun rays don't really matter). But everywhere we turn, it seems someone is advising us to slather up with SPF. However... did you know that some of the foods you eat may be causing those crow's feet as well?

In her latest book Eat Pretty, Jolene Hart — former journalist and beauty editor for InStylePeople and Allure — has done some firsthand research on how the foods we consume affect our beauty on the outside.

Some foods actually give us that "healthy glow": Peppers support a good blood flow, cherries decrease inflammation and apple cider vinegar balances your pH.

More:The truth about pH balance and how to tell if yours is in good shape

But some things, like alcohol, can make us look worse. Alcohol upsets hormone balance and stresses the liver — which has an impact on blood flow to your skin. Without a healthy blood flow, your skin is going to look sullen, tired and dull. Have you ever seen anyone look good during a hangover? Me either.

So! Moral of the story: You are what you eat. Therefore, if you are trying to stave off wrinkles like the plague, then avoid these six foods at all costs:

1. Coffee

Coffee

Image: Nadine Avola

Yeah... sorry, ladies. Unfortunately, caffeine amps up your stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol breaks down collagen — and collagen is what we need to keep our skin plump and baby-like. So, with an excess of cortisol, the skin can't repair itself and weakens, leading to wrinkles. (Hint: Drink coffee only when cortisol levels are naturally low).

2. Fried foods

Fries

Image: Keith McDuffee/Flickr

Fried foods use oils and fats that are heated to higher temperatures, a process that releases free radicals. Hart explains free radicals are "reactive oxygen molecules that steal electrons from healthy molecules in your body, causing cellular damage in the process." This cellular damage shows up as wrinkles... and age spots.

3. Gluten

Sliced bread

Image: Stacy/Flickr

If you are sensitive to gluten, your digestive system may not be operating as well as it should and, therefore, may be cheating you of absorbing healthy nutrients. So, if your body isn't getting the vitamins and minerals it needs, then you can't fight off the bad things (like free radicals) that cause wrinkles.

More: 14 New gluten-free products to watch for in 2015

4. Overcooked foods

Grilled foods

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Whether you're charring vegetables or an 18-ounce filet mignon, overcooked and burnt foods lose nutrient value and contribute to advanced glycation end products. These glycation end products create stiff bonds (think crackly, sagging skin) in your body instead of the supple, elastic ones that come with eating healthy foods.

5. Soda

Soda can

Image: Jannes Pockele/Flickr

Soda is bad for you. Not only does each can of pop give you an extra 150 calories, but it also gives you lots of phosphates. High levels of phosphates contribute to early aging, thinning skin and bone loss. Hart adds, "Caramel color in colas is a direct source of AGE formation, an aging, wrinkle-causing process."

6. Sugar

Sugar candy

Image: Nakimusi/Flickr

You knew this one was coming. And Hart makes it clear: "Sugar is just plain toxic to your beauty." As a major contributor to AGEs (advanced glycation ends) in the body, "sugar directly contributes to wrinkles, age spots, blemishes, lackluster skin and cellulite." No thanks.

Pass the Brussels sprouts, please!

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