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You know that age-old adage, “Asians don’t raisin?” Well, while there certainly is some truth behind that, it is a sad fact of life that we all age eventually.

And the first place where ageing tends to show? Your skin. Yup, we’re talking everything from wrinkles, to fine lines, to sun spots. If you find that your skin is exhibiting signs of pre-mature ageing (and none of that magical Asian genes that supposedly keep you young), well, the answer might actually lie more towards your diet than anything. Say what?!

Yup, so don’t go switching up your skincare routine just yet! Here are 11 foods that are making you look older than you are. (Trust us, you won’t see some of them coming.)

1. Sweets


Sweets — or anything with a high sugar content, really — aren’t just responsible for teeth decay or cavities, unfortunately. Apparently, an sugar overload can kick start a process known as glycation, which causes excess sugar molecules to combine with proteins.

This then creates advanced glycation end products which ultimately affects your skin’s collagen, accelerating the rate of skin ageing. Yikes! No amount of anti-ageing facials can reverse this damage, so remember to limit your sugar consumption from now on. If you’re craving sugar, we recommend reaching for your favourite fruit instead— they’re good for your overall health, at least!

What to eat instead: Everything in moderation, but try to consume more fruits instead. Or, failing that, some high-quality dark chocolate.

2. Alcohol


And that includes alcohols that are supposedly not too bad for you like red and white wines. Those actually work to stain and discolour your teeth, making you look older than you actually are!

Your other hard liquors and beers, on the other hand, impacts your liver. Drinking too much leads to a build up of toxins within it, which leads to further skin issues such as acne, sallowness, and wrinkles. Uh, years of skin ageing for a few hours of fun? We’d rather not.

What to drink instead: Everything in moderation, right? You’re fine as long as you’re not drinking excessively. If anything, though, try to replace alcohol with H2O instead.

3. Charred meats


No, the best part of your satay isn’t the chao tah (charred) bits. In fact, this black char marks actually contains pro-inflammatory hydrocarbons, which causes the break down of collagen in your skin. Luckily, you don’t have to banish all BBQ foods from your diet: simply scrape the blackened bits off your meats, and remember to clean your grill thoroughly afterwards.

What to eat instead: Try to go for more boiled or steamed options instead.

4. Processed meats


Everything from sausage, bacon to ham is equally as guilty when it comes to causing pre-mature ageing. This is mostly because such processed meats contain sulfites and other preservatives, which can trigger inflammation and accelerate the appearance of ageing. The high salt content also makes you look more puffy, which is not a good look on anyone. 

What to eat instead: Lean meats such as chicken and turkey. Failing that, simply load up on more greens instead!

5. Red meat


As a general rule, red meat isn’t all that great for your health, but did you know it causes your skin to look older than it is too? This is due to how it generates free radicals, which snags electrons from healthy cells and damages them, thus affecting your skin’s ability to protect itself and generate precious collagen.

What to eat instead: Go for lean meats like chicken and turkey, or even fish instead.

6. Spicy foods


This is probably a deal breaker for most of us, considering how much us Singaporeans love our spicy foods! Unfortunately, spicy foods are known to aggravate rosacea-prone skin, and can even damage your skin further if you’re experiencing menopause. Not only do they dilate blood vessels, leading to a more blotchy-looking complexion, but they could also lead to spider veins, puffiness, and or permanent redness. We don’t know about you, but that’s probably good cause to skip out on a few ma la Mondays from now on.

What to eat instead: You’re good as long as you’re not overindulging in too much spicy foods! As always, everything in moderation.

7. Salty foods


You know how bloated you tend to get after you finish a whole big bag of salted popcorn? Well, that’s because salty foods actually retain moisture, leading to puffiness that makes you look just about ten years older. Eek! You can combat this by drinking lots of H2O as you devour your chips, but it is recommended that you cut down on your salty food intake as a whole. Beware of foods containing a high amount of sodium in general, too, such as canned goods.

What to eat instead: Fresh foods are your best friend! Go for those in favour of salty, processed meals.

8. Trans fats


Aside it being incredibly unhealthy, trans fats also promotes inflammation, which makes you more vulnerable to UV damage. And considering we live in hot and humid Singapore, well… that pretty much spells disaster, if you ask us. A weakened skin barrier can lead to hyperpigmentation and sunspot galore, thus ageing your skin up to a whole decade. Uh, no thanks.

What to eat instead: Avoid anything with hydrogenated oil on the label and opt for fresh, healthier options instead.

9. Lemonade


This one is not so detrimental to your skin than it is to your teeth — but considering how whole, white teeth is essential to maintaining a youthful appearance, there’s no doubt that lemonade is one of the foods out there that can make you appear a lot older than you actually are. The citrus in the drink wears away your teeth’s enamel, creating stains and decay, with the addition of sugar in there leading to glycation and plaque buildup. That’s a triple whammy if we’ve ever seen one!

If you have to drink lemonade, sip it from a straw instead to limit the contact it has on your pearly whites.

What to drink instead: Drink in moderation, and have more water instead.

10. Energy drinks


Energy drinks are no different from lemonade, really — think a stripped enamel which leads to stains and decay on your teeth, and waaay too much sugar, which causes glycation that affects your skin’s collagen production abilities. They are pretty bad for your overall health, too, so drink them in moderation.

What to drink instead: Water, or fruit juices, if you’re looking to treat yourself to something a little special for the day.

11. Coffee


… Or anything with caffeine in it, such as your sodas. It’s primarily because caffeine acts as a diuretic, which makes you excrete fluid. This, in turn, depletes your skin of moisture, making it look dull and aged. There’s also the small matter of it staining teeth, eroding your pearly whites over time.

Need your daily cup of coffee to function? Well, make sure to follow it with a glass of water. It has a neutral pH, which washes away the acid that comes with your cuppa.

What to drink instead: Drink in moderation, and opt for water if possible!