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Dietitian Shares the 3 Most Important Nutrition Anti-Aging Tips


In this article

Aging is a natural process we all undergo, but the way we eat can have a significant impact on how quickly or slowly this process occurs. In this article, we discuss the three most important nutritional tips against accelarated (skin) aging to maintain a strong, firm and vital body.

Written by A.L. Oosterling BSc sports dietitian, NSCA-CPT, ISAK anthropometrist

Tip 1: Eat colorful and spiced as a anti-aging diet

Harmful emissions, sunbathing, smoking, alcohol, lack of sleep, stress, as well as normal situations such as our metabolism and exercising cause “free radicals.” There is evidence that too many of these free radicals accelerate aging and increase the risk of chronic disease. This means that in some cases, these substances cause serious damage to cells and tissues. Fortunately, there are antioxidants. Antioxidants are a collection of substances such as vitamins E, vitamin C, selenium, but also bioactive substances from plant-based foods such as “flavonoids.” It may sound a bit technical, but “flavonoids” is a collective term for subgroups like anthocyanins, flavonols, phytoestrogens and catechins.

What you want to remember is that antioxidants defuse excess “free radicals” at the cellular level, thus preventing accelerated aging. So, foods rich in antioxidants are important if you want to slow down aging.

vegan foods high in protein

What are high in antioxidants?

Foods high in antioxidants are colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc and flavonoids.

Colorful food

Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants; they are responsible for the bright colors in many fruits and vegetables. A type of flavonoids with antioxidant activities are “anthocyanins.” Anthocyanins are blue, red or purple pigments found in plant-based foods. Examples of foods high in anthocyanins are berries, dark green leafy vegetables, colorful tubers and colorful roots. It is important to note that the most colorful version of the same type of fruit or vegetable contains significantly more anthocyanins. This means that a red onion or red cabbage is just a little bit healthier than a white onion or white cabbage.

There is not 1 food that contains all antioxidants. So, it’s important to eat a mix of various colorful foods. Our favorite foods rich in antioxidants can be found in the table below.

ProductVitamin C per 100grVitamin E per 100grBeta-carotene per 100grSelenium per 100grZinc per 100gr
(high in athocyanins)
Spinach leaves28mg2mg5630µg1µg1.1mg
Oregano, dried2.3mg18.3mg1010µg4.5µg2.69mg
Cocoa, powderx0.1mgx14.3µg6.8mg
Chia seeds2mg0.5mgx55µg4.9mg
Broken Flax seeds0.6mg0.7mgx13µg7.8mg
Foods high in antioxidants. Source: NEVO-online, USDA

Tip 2: Eat More Protein Against Aging Inside and Out

Sufficient muscle mass is crucial for a tighter, stronger, more vital, and healthier body. Unfortunately, as we age, we lose more and more muscle mass. The speed in which this happens increases with age too. This is because we are becoming less and less sensitive to the muscle-building and recovery properties of protein (and strength training). This breakdown process starts around your 30th life year. Starting at age 50, we can lose 1-2% muscle mass per year. As a result, we become increasingly fragile, weaker, our metabolism slows down and the body starts to “droop.” We call this phenomenon “sarcopenia.” It is important to eat enough protein (and combine it with weekly strength training) to protect our precious muscle mass.

Why is protein important?

  • Tissue Repair and Maintenance: Proteins are the building blocks of the body and play a crucial role in repairing, renewing and maintaining tissues, organs and cells.
  • Hormone production: Proteins are involved in the production of hormones.
  • Immune system: Antibodies, which are essential for the immune system, are made up of proteins.
  • Enzymatic Functions: Many enzymes involved in biochemical reactions in the body are proteins. These enzymes play a role in speeding up chemical reactions that are essential for various body processes.
  • Transport: Proteins can serve as carriers for the transport of molecules such as oxygen (hemoglobin in blood) and fats (lipoproteins).
  • Structure: Proteins give structure to cells and tissues. One example is collagen. Collagen is a protein that provides strength and elasticity to skin, bones, tendons and cartilage.

What contains a lot of protein?

Many proteins can be found in tofu, chicken, seafood, meat, fish, egg (white), (soy) milk, (soy) yogurt, pea milk, legumes such as lentils and lupin, seitan (wheat protein), (protein) whole wheat pasta and protein powder.

protein powder for women

Tip 3: Eat collagen-producing foods against skin aging

Collagen is a crucial protein that supports the structure and elasticity of our skin, cartilage, bones and tendons. As we age, our body makes less and less collagen. You may notice this in your skin or joints.
Besides aging, other factors that can negatively affect collagen production include sunbathing for too long, smoking, alcohol, lack of sleep, and eating too many unhealthy processed foods (too much sugar and white processed carbohydrates cause inflammation and damage collagen).

What foods make collagen?

The body can make collagen. To do this, it needs enough protein high in amino acids (especially proline, glycine), vitamin C, zinc and copper on a daily basis.

Foods high in protein (amino acids)

Foods with most vitamin C

  • Red bell pepper (150mg per 100gr)
  • Yellow kiwi (135mg per 100gr)
  • Brussels sprouts (132mg per 100gr)
  • Kale (93mg per 100gr)
  • Strawberries (60mg per 100gr)
  • Red cabbage (60mg per 100gr)
  • Oranges (51mg per 100gr)

Foods with the most zinc

  • Oysters (59.2mg per 100gr)
  • Pumpkin seeds (7.9mg per 100gr)
  • Broken flax seeds (7.8gr per 100gr)
  • Sesame seeds (7.75mg per 100gr)
  • Cocoa powder (6.8mg per 100gr)
  • Pine nuts (6.45mg per 100gr)
  • Sunflower seeds (5.4mg per 100gr)
  • Cashews (5.8mg per 100gr)
  • Crab (5.7mg per 100gr)

Foods high in copper

  • Oysters (7.93mg per 100gr)
  • Sesame seeds (4.08mg per 100gr)
  • Cocoa powder (3.79mg per 100gr)
  • Sunflower seeds (2.27mg per 100gr)
  • Cashews (2.2mg per 100gr)
  • Hazelnuts (1.72mg per 100gr)
  • Pine nuts (1.32mg per 100gr)
  • Buckwheat (1.1mg per 100gr)
  • Lupin (1.02mg per 100gr)

best collagen building foods

What foods are high in collagen?

Animal bone-drawn broth and gelatin are high in collagen. A 200 ml serving of animal broth contains about 4 grams of collagen. In addition, the skin of fish also contains significant amounts of collagen. For example, sardines, anchovies or mackerel with skin. There is also collagen in powder form. This is a supplement whose efficacy for firmer skin is still under research. In fact, there’s a possibility that our stomach acid break down these collagen proteins, preventing the collagen from reaching the skin. There is also no consensus (yet) on what amount of collagen from a supplement is effective. Too much collagen in supplement form may not always be good and may possibly have conflicting effects.

Vegan collagen

Plant-based or vegan collagen does not exist (unfortunately), but specific plant-based foods are needed to support the body’s own collagen production.

Bonus Tip: Eat anti-inflammatory foods against skin aging

In general, a diet rich in unprocessed products with lots of plant-based foods has an anti-inflammatory effect. This way, we can help balance the inflammation that happens daily in our bodies. This reduces the risk of (long-term) damage to cells and tissues. There are also some specific foods known for their mild anti-inflammatory effects:

  • Foods high in omega 3: Omega 3 is abundant in (fatty) fish, walnuts and broken flaxseed.
  • Foods high in vitamin D: For the most part, the body makes its own vitamin D with the help of sunlight. The body does this through the skin. Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and trout, but vitamin D is also added to margarine.
  • High-fiber foods: fiber is found in all vegetables, fruits, whole grain products and legumes. Animal-based products do not contain fiber.


Our food choices can speed up or slow down the process of aging. Is your food mostly beige? Then change this to colorful, spiced ánd protein-rich foods, rich in essential amino acids.

In addition to specific nutrition tips, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, how we decide to live, where we live and how we eat directly affects how and how fast we age.

Therefore, in addition to nutrition, it is important to exercise sufficiently daily (works anti-inflammatory), train weekly with weights for sufficient muscle mass, get enough sleep, relax daily, do not smoke and do not sit in the sun for too long. In other words, an overall healthy and active lifestyle keeps the body vital, strong and healthy.

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