Need another reason to ditch the fruitcake that Aunt Tillie sends every year? Board-certified cosmetic plastic surgeon Jennifer Walden warns that there are some traditional holiday treats that midlifers would do well to avoid if they want to look their best. Everything in moderation, of course, but here are the top four items to push away from your plate if your goal is to avoid wrinkles.
1) Yes, the almighty fruitcake.
Sad truth is that many of our favorite holiday treats are loaded with sugar that causes wrinkles and dull skin. Sugars negatively affect collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin firm and youthful. Sugar makes skin dry, and that leads to wrinkles and sagging. Fruitcakes have a high glycemic index -- meaning they are loaded with sugar. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that a low glycemic diet can reduce acne by up to 50 percent. By the way, ruggaleh falls into the same category.
Walden's suggestion: Eat a fresh fruit salad instead.
2) Alcohol -- and yes, we mean egg nog too.
While alcohol may be a quick fix for the awkward family moments that seem to populate the holidays, alcohol is simply not a friend to your skin, said Walden. It is extremely dehydrating, which leads to a dry and often pale appearance the next day when you are hung over. It also causes dilation of the small blood vessels of the skin, which can be an aggressor for rosacea. "You want to feel rosy this holiday season, not look it," said Walden.
Walden's suggestion: Water -- a drink your skin will embrace.
3) Fried foods.
From potato latkes (pancakes) to fried apple fritters, your skin is begging you to refrain. Overindulgence in trans-fats and fried foods contributes to diminished blood circulation, said Walden, and that can cause clogged pores, acne, bacteria build-up and flaky skin. Limit the latkes, she said, and your skin will thank you.
The good news is you can go wild with the sour cream when you cut back on your latkes. "Fermented foods like cultured vegetables and probiotic drinks such as coconut kefir are important as these foods not only contribute to better digestion but also boost energy," Walden said.
Manna from heaven turns out to have a lot of sodium. Indulge in those bread rolls and wake up wearing puffy bags, said Walden.
Try to find true happiness with sweet potatoes, tabbouleh with couscous and tomatoes or an Israeli salad. Your skin will approve. Walden also "loves lox," because she said, omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods like wild salmon help keep skin moisturized and also help it maintain elasticity.