One day you’re looking in the mirror and notice a line where you hadn’t seen one before. Oh my, you have wrinkles! At first, they tend to pop up around the eyes, forehead, and mouth because normal facial expressions tend to weaken the skin. Also, you may see some in areas that are exposed to the sun since the sun causes skin damage that leads to wrinkles.

But before you run out for Botox, take a minute to look at other lifestyle causes of these newly appearing wrinkles. As a Registered Dietitian, I always recommend diet-related changes that can be made first, before moving on to more extreme measures. And although wrinkles may just be a normal part of aging, your diet can definitely speed up the process. And a benefit in changing your diet is that it doesn’t require much money and no needles are involved! Win-win in my book!


What causes wrinkles?

Skin is made up of two proteins: collagen and elastin. These proteins work to keep the skin smooth and wrinkle free. Keeping these proteins healthy is what will also keep your skin looking great.

The sun is our first offender. It damages collagen, breaking down the structural fibers underneath the skin. Once the collagen is damaged, the skin will weaken, leading to sagging. Combine sun damage with the natural weakening of the skin that comes with aging, and wrinkles are an inevitable result.

Another culprit of wrinkles are advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. These molecules are left over debris, formed as part of the normal process of digesting sugar. But over time AGEs tend to build up, attach themselves to the collagen and elastin, damage their structure and lead to wrinkled, sagging skin. So which foods lead to AGEs, and what should you avoid if you want your skin to look great?



Sugar increases the formation of AGEs, which damage collagen. Collagen fibers must remain linked together to help maintain the skin’s structure. Sugar damages the link between the collagen fibers, which is then exacerbated by exposure to UV light from the sun. The more collagen breaks down, the more wrinkled the skin will appear.

In order to prevent wrinkles, reduce your sugar intake. High-sugar foods, such as candy, cake, or ice cream, should be eaten only occasionally — and not as part of your daily diet. Stay away from sugary beverages, such as soda or blended coffee drinks, which can provide up to 100 grams of pure sugar depending on the size. Also, make sure you check the label on other products — like yogurt, ketchup, or tomato sauce — that may have hidden sources of sugar. Instead, base your diet on whole foods that don’t contain any additional sugar: vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and healthy fats.



After being digested, carbohydrates get broken down into pure sugar, which, as we know, causes AGEs. But not all carbs are created equal. Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates and many of them have amazing nutritional properties that can actually prevent wrinkles. So, totally avoiding carbs to avoid wrinkles would actually be detrimental to the health your skin.

Instead, avoid carbs that are highly refined and processed, which have little nutritional benefit and can be damaging to the skin. Ideally, to help prevent wrinkles, limit concentrated sources of carbohydrates such as bagels (which average 50 grams of carbs each), muffins, breakfast cereals, white bread, cookies, pastries, and cakes. Focus on eating healthy, less-processed carbs which provide nutrients that improve the appearance of skin. Base your diet around whole grains, fruits, and vegetables — all of which are carbs, but also contain antioxidants and wrinkle-reducing vitamins.



For a long time, margarine was touted as a better choice than butter because of its lower saturated fat content. But this was before we learned of the damaging effects of the polyunsaturated fats found in margarine. A study published in an issue of 2001’s Journal of The American College of Nutrition found that people who regularly consumed margarine had more wrinkles than those who ate less margarine.

This may be related to the type of fat found in margarine, which tends to increase inflammation, leading to an increase in oxidative stress. Uncontrolled oxidative stress damages all the body’s organs, including the skin. Therefore, inflammation not only increases your risk of disease, it also causes damage to skin, leading to a dry, dull appearance and the formation of wrinkles. Avoid margarine and opt for small amounts of real butter instead. Better yet, top bread with some type of nut butter, which will give you the right types of fats for healthy skin.

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