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There are two main culprits that accelerate the aging process of our skin: sun exposure and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs form when protein or fat combine with sugar. While these aging culprits aren’t 100 percent in our control, using sunscreen and taking mind of your overall diet can help with how our body protects and heals our skin.

And although minding your diet is easier said than done, it always helps to have a little reminder of how certain foods can affect your skin health. Our list can help with that.

But remember, every person is unique. Not everyone will benefit from eating raw, clean, or whole only. And regularly eating one or two of these foods won’t lead to less collagen and totally damage your skin. It’s straying away from a moderate diet that’s best for you that will change your health, skin or not.

So, go through this list with a grain of salt (pun not intended). Take the information that’s most helpful to you.

1. Sweet potato fries for french fries

French fries can hit the spot — both in the satisfaction department and the AGE production department, as they’re fried and salty.

Foods fried in oil at high temperatures release free radicals that can cause cellular damage to the skin. Exposure to free radicals accelerates the aging process due to an action called cross-linking. Cross-linking affects DNA molecules and can weaken skin’s elasticity.

What’s more, consuming too much salt can draw water out from the skin and lead to dehydration. That may make your skin more prone to wrinkling.

If you want: Swap french fries for baked sweet potato fries or fried sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are rich in anti-aging copper, which aids in collagen production.

2. Sprouted bread for white bread

When refined carbs integrate with protein, it causes the formation of AGEs. AGEs have a direct effect on chronic diseases as well as the aging process.

Foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, can cause inflammation in the body, which is directly linked to the aging process.

If you want: Try an alternative to traditional bread, such as sprouted grain breads that contain no added sugar. Sprouted breads also contain antioxidants that are beneficial to the skin.

3. Honey or fruit for white sugar

Sugar is one of the infamous contenders to unwanted skin concerns like acne. As mentioned above, sugar contributes to the formation of collagen-damaging AGEs.

When our sugar levels are elevated, this AGE process is stimulated. It’s sped up even more if sunlight is involved. So, instead of eating ice cream on the beach, opt for refreshing frozen fruit or a popsicle with no sugar added.

If you want: Reach for fruit or dark chocolate when craving something sweet. Blueberries, specifically, prevent loss of collagen (as shown in animal studies).

4. Olive oil or avocados for margarine

Take it easy with that butter knife. Older studies have shown that those who don’t consume margarine or butter have less skin damage and wrinkles than those who do.

And the science checks out: Margarine is worse than moderate amounts of real butter due to the fact that it’s high in partially hydrogenated oils. These trans fatty acids make skin more vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation, which can damage skin’s collagen and elasticity.

If you want: Swap butter for olive oil or smear avocados, rich in anti-aging antioxidants, on toast instead.

5. Stick with poultry for processed meats

Hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon, and sausage are all examples of processed meats that can be harmful to the skin.

These meats are high in sodium, saturated fats, and sulfite, which can all dehydrate the skin and weaken collagen by causing inflammation. For inexpensive protein options, swap processed meats for eggs or beans.

If you want: Opt for leaner meats like turkey and chicken. These meats are packed with protein and amino acids that are essential in the natural formation of collagen.

6. Feel out dairy

Got mixed feeling about dairy? Science does, too.

Some have seen positive skin changes from dropping dairy. Others have seen no significant difference at all.

It all depends on the person. For some, dairy may increase inflammation in the body, which leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of premature aging.

Diets low in dairy products may protect sun-exposed skin from wrinkling.

If you want: Dairy is a great source of calcium, which is essential to overall skin health. For other sources of calcium, eat seeds, beans, almonds, leafy greens, and figs.

7. Think twice about soda and coffee

What soda and coffee do to your health have more to do with sleep than skin. First, both are high in caffeine, which, if you drink frequently throughout the day to night, may affect your sleep.

Poor sleep has been linked to increased signs of aging and more dark eye circles, wrinkles, and fine lines.

If you want: If you’re concerned about the sugar content, take a look at how much you’re drinking. See if you can decrease the amount or make swaps, like having golden milk instead of coffee. Turmeric, the main ingredient in golden milk, is rich in antioxidants and one of the most powerful anti-aging compounds around.

8. Drink alcohol in moderation

Alcohol can cause a host of problems when it comes to the skin, including redness, puffiness, loss of collagen, and wrinkles.

Alcohol depletes your nutrients, hydration, and vitamin A levels, all of which have a direct impact on wrinkles.

Vitamin A is especially important in regards to new cell growth and the production of collagen, ensuring that skin is elastic and wrinkle-free.

If you want: Drink in moderation. That’s one drink per day for women and two for men. Make sure you’re well-hydrated with water. Try experimenting with some fun and creative mocktail recipes as well.

9. Avoid cooking in high heat

Some polyunsaturated oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, like corn or sunflower oil, can cause harmful free radicals and can increase inflammation levels. If you’re frying or using high heat every day, that adds up.

But this doesn’t mean that all oils are unhealthy. When it comes to oils and wrinkle prevention, opt for monounsaturated fats to help keep the skin hydrated.

If you want: Swap vegetable oils for olive oil. It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and phytosterols, and reduces inflammation.

10. Switch out rice cakes

While rice cakes are usually touted as a good snack, this isn’t the case for the skin.

Rice cakes have a high glycemic index and can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Increased blood sugar levels act as an “aging accelerator” that can cause wrinkles.

If you want: For an anti-aging snack, try hummus with red bell pepper strips. Red bell peppers are high in vitamin C, making them great at producing collagen. Chickpeas are chock-full of skin-healthy antioxidants, too.

11. Counteract fructose with lipoic acid

Many people are surprised to hear that agave can contain more fructose than high fructose corn syrup.

As we know from above, fructose breaks down collagen much quicker than regular sugar, which can speed up wrinkle formation.

If you want: Since lipoic acid may prevent the collagen-damaging effects from fructose, if agave is the only sweetener you can have, remember to include lots of Brussels sprouts (which are high in lipoic acid) in your diet.

While interpretations about falling dreams should not be thought of as facts or diagnoses, it may be worth considering the different meanings of your falling dreams.

You find yourself falling down a cliff head-first, hurtling towards the ground — and just before you reach it, you wake up.

Many people dream about falling. It’s one of the most common recurring dreams.

Some people seek out meaning from their dreams. If you often find yourself dreaming about falling, you may be curious about how to interpret it.

However, you may want to avoid overreacting to dream interpretations. Dreams may not be signs of impending doom or proof of mental health disorders, but they may be a symptom of or related to some conditions.

Let’s look at these interpretations and how you can manage their effects on your life.

What does it mean if you’re falling in a dream?

Falling in a dream may reflect feelings of fear, anxiety, or betrayal.

Other common interpretations of falling in a dream could include:

  • feeling out of control
  • feeling unsupported
  • fearing taking a risk

Instead of viewing a dream as definitive proof that you’re feeling a certain way, you might want to check in with yourself.

Are you feeling anxious about something? Do you need to ask for help? Is there a risk you want to take?

Also, nightmares are common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you’ve had a trauma that relates to falling, this may play a role in your falling dream.

Generally, falling dreams may prove an unpleasant experience that may bring about feelings of helplessness, fear, or betrayal.

Like many other common dreams, falling dreams may reveal to you important lessons about what’s affecting you in your daily life.

The psychology of dreams 

Many people are interested in interpreting their own dreams.

Superstitions may offer explanations for your dreams. For example, some people believe that dreams about your teeth falling out might mean you’re about to get a large sum of money.

But viewing dreams as signs of luck in the external world may prove problematic or disappointing.

Psychology offers people more systematic approaches to interpreting their dreams. However, there’s no general or single approach to dream analysis. It’s still a complex field of psychology.

There’s no scientific consensus on what dreams mean. In the fields of psychology and psychiatry, there are many different schools of thought on interpreting dreams.

Early psychiatrists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung believed that dreams were messages from your unconscious that held significant meaning. Unlike Freud, Jung argued that analyzing our dreams may help us understand our internal conflicts and how to overcome them.

However, other contemporary psychologists disagree. Over the past few decades, numerous approaches to dream analysis have been developed, many of which complicate or refute Jung’s dream theories.

Here are some common theories:

  • Dreams may be a way to regulate emotions.
  • Dreams are simply a reflection of what we do, think, and feel during the day.
  • Dreams may be a way to practice identifying and responding to potential threats, according to threat simulation theory.
  • Dreams may be a random selection of images and ideas generated by our brain during sleep, according to activation-synthesis theory.
  • Dreams are a kind of screensaver that plays while your brain focuses on processing memories in your sleep, according to continual-activation theory.

Depending on which school of thought resonates with you, you may interpret your dreams about falling in a number of different ways.

Types of dreams about falling

You may also find that different types of dreams about falling reflect different emotions and experiences.

Dreaming about falling in water

Dreams about falling into water might represent a literal fear of swimming or the ocean.

However, the feeling of being suspended in water may be a reflection of feeling like you’re in limbo. You may feel unsure of where you stand on a social, career, or emotional matter.

Dreaming about falling from the sky

Many people interpret dreams about falling from the sky as a reflection of their feeling out of control.

Feelings of indecisiveness, fear, or doubt may bubble up during the dream and after you wake.

Dreams about falling through the floor

If you dream about the floor opening up beneath you, it may represent a few different things. It may be that you feel unsafe, or that something you thought was certain suddenly changed.

If you’ve felt like you’ve had the rug pulled out from under you, your feelings might be reflected in your dreams. Examples of these sudden life changes may include you losing a job, losing your house, or ending a relationship that meant a lot to you.

Dream interpretation of someone else falling

A dream about someone else falling can bring up feelings of impotence and shame — especially if you tried to save them but couldn’t.

This may represent tension in your relationship with that person. It might also suggest that you’re trying to help someone, but can’t.

Perhaps you find it more alarming watching someone else falling in a dream rather than yourself.

If you feel as if you’ve been spending so much mental effort trying to save someone else in a romantic or platonic relationship, you may want to look into the signs of codependency.

Jerking awake during your dream

You might find that you jerk awake just before you hit the surface. This is called a hypnic jerk, also known as a “sleep start.”

Hypnic jerks are involuntary muscle contractions that usually happen just as you fall asleep. It happens as you transition from a wakeful state to a sleep state.

Also called sleep starts, hypnic jerks are generally considered harmless, although they may sometimes be unpleasant.

How to stop dreaming about falling

Dreaming about falling can be distressing. Nightmares can cause you to have a poor night’s sleep, and you might wake up feeling groggy or anxious.

Although nightmares are something almost everyone experiences, you might want to seek help if you’re experiencing nightmares often — especially if they make it difficult to sleep adequately or function during your day.

Persistent nightmares may be a sign of a sleep disorder or an anxiety disorder.

Good sleep hygiene might help you sleep better and reduce nightmares.

This can include:

  • avoiding caffeine, especially before bedtime
  • sleeping in a quiet, dark room at a comfortable temperature
  • ensuring that your bed and pillows are comfortable
  • meditating, journaling, or engaging in deep-breathing exercises before bed
  • sleeping and waking up around the same time every day, if possible
  • avoiding blue light before bedtime
  • avoiding daytime napping, if possible

If you’re still having difficulties with nightmares despite having good sleep hygiene, consider speaking with a therapist. This might help you get to the root of your sleep issues.

You may also benefit from PTSD treatment, if you’ve been diagnosed with the disorder or think you may have it.

You might also want to try imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT), a kind of therapy for people who often have nightmares.

Next steps

There’s still plenty of debate within psychiatry and psychology about the science of sleep and dreams. There’s no scientific consensus on what dreams mean and how to interpret them.

Dreams about falling are common, but they can be quite unpleasant. If you often have nightmares, you may benefit from practicing good sleep hygiene and talking with a therapist.

If you’re looking for mental health support, the following resources might help:

  • Find a Therapist: Mental Health Resources for Everyone
  • Find a Therapist and Mental Health Support
  • What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy
  • How To Find the Right Therapist: 10 Tips

Avoid the urge to overreact if you’ve experienced a falling dream. They may just be a sign of your unconscious thoughts or worries.

If you find your nightmares reoccur and impact your day-to-day life, consider the resources above and seek some professional help.

There’s no one-size-fits-all interpretation for your dreams. But don’t be afraid to write down your dreams and consider ways they can inform your everyday life.

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