Eating too much sugar certainly isn’t wise for your waistline, but did you know that overindulging in dessert can add years to your face? And even if you do strenuous cardio workouts each week, you’ll be missing out on potential anti-aging body benefits if your schedule doesn’t include yoga, weight training and rest.
Find out if you’re making one of these eight common diet and exercise mistakes, and get smart prevention strategies that can keep you slim and youthful for years to come.
1. You overdo dessert
The breakdown of sugars, called glycation, damages the collagen that keeps skin smooth and firm. To prevent this natural process from careening out of control, Dr. Naila Malik, a dermatologist in Southlake, Texas, sticks to low-glycemic carbs like whole grains. They’re naturally low in sugar, and the body processes them slowly to limit the loss of collagen. If you want to sweeten up your tea or oatmeal without making your skin look older, try all-natural stevia. It’s an easily digested herbal sweetener that doesn’t trigger glycation, said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, an adjunct professor of medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine.
2. You spin away stress
Taking your work angst out on the bike or treadmill might make you feel better for a little while, but incorporating yoga into your fitness routine regularly may help you look younger and prevent breakouts while whittling away stress. Sounds like a winning workout to us! “Yoga moves like child’s pose, downward-facing dog and sun salutations improve circulation – the boost of oxygen is what gives skin that lovely yoga glow,” said Dr. Hema Sundaram, a Washington, D.C.-area dermatologist. New research finds regular yoga practice may reduce the inflammation and stress that speed skin aging. If you need another reason to “om” away your stress: High levels of tension can spike hormone production that leads to breakouts or aggravates conditions like psoriasis. “Controlling stress keeps your skin calm,” said Dr. Annie Chiu, a dermatologist in Los Angeles.
3. You always pick coffee over tea
Research suggests that green and black tea contain protective compounds – like EGCG and theaflavins – that help prevent skin cancers and the breakdown of collagen, the cause of wrinkles.
4. You pretend to be allergic to dumbbells
Following a regular strength-training routine that creates better, more supportive muscle tone will help you firm sagging skin from the neck down. “I am religious about strength-training, and I always tell patients to do it more as they get older,” said Dr. Patricia Farris, a dermatologist in Metairie, La. “It’s like adding volume to the face with fillers, except on your body,” Farris said.
5. Your meat and dairy aren’t organic
“Hormones in traditionally produced dairy, poultry and meat may contribute to acne,” said Dr. Katie Rodan, a dermatologist in the San Francisco Bay area. She says that her patients who eat those less frequently – or at least choose grain-fed beef and poultry and organic dairy – often notice their skin looks better.
6. You don’t give your body a break
When your exercise routine is so intense that you’re tired all the time but can’t sleep at night, you’re setting yourself up for overuse injuries – not to mention dark circles and bags under your eyes from those sleepless nights. These symptoms could be a sign of overexhaustion, said Ryan Halvorson, personal trainer, IDEA Health and Fitness Association expert, and author. Other clues that you’re working out too much include extreme muscle soreness that persists for several days, unintended weight loss, increased resting heart rate, interruptions in your menstrual cycle or decreased appetite.
7. You’re missing alkaline-rich foods
Kimberly Snyder, a Los Angeles nutritionist and author of “The Beauty Detox Solution,” said she sees a big improvement in her clients’ skin and hair when they eat more alkaline-forming foods, such as parsley, almonds, kale, pears, lemons and apples. “If your body is too acidic, which can happen when your diet is unbalanced, it leaches the alkaline minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, that allow us to have strong, healthy bones, teeth and hair,” Snyder said.