The fact that nutrients are derived from the food you seems like common knowledge, right? Just to overview: once you eat, the digestive enzymes and gut bacteria get to work inside the body to break down the food into molecules that travel through the bloodstream, which then provide nourishment to our bodies. Nutrients like proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals get absorbed through the intestinal wall, while harmful substances are kept out. However, nutrient absorption levels vary and can even be affected by various health conditions. Not being able to absorb enough nutrition from food over a prolonged period causes nutrient deficiencies and it can also lead to other health issues.
The key to maximizing nutrient absorption in your body often lies in what and how you eat, and the overall state of your gut system. Here are a few simple, easy-to-do tips to help get most out of the food you eat.
1. Eat fresh and local.
Eating organic whole foods is all the rage now, and there are several benefits to eating food that is not laced with pesticide or synthetic additives. But if you are looking to optimize the number of minerals and vitamins you get from your food, consider opting for locally-produced produce that has been recently plucked. A University of California study says that fruits and vegetables tend to lose their nutrients soon after harvest. (1) While growing your own produce may not always be a viable option, buying from farmers markets can be great value for this reason. As an added bonus, fresh produce tastes way more delicious than those week-old items found in local grocery stores.
2. Eat slower.
There are a hundred tasks to complete every day (as moms, we totally get it!), and a leisurely meal doesn’t often happen with a busy schedule. However, gulping down your meal means that you are probably not chewing your food properly, which can stand in the way of proper nutrient absorption. The process of chewing activates enzymes in the saliva of your mouth that aid in digestion. Chewing also makes the food easy to digest so you can get the maximum benefit out of the food you eat. Eating slowly can also help with portion control, which is an added benefit if you are trying to promote weight loss.
3. Add healthy fats to your meals.
Eating a healthy diet does not mean that you do away with fats altogether. Instead, it’s important to include healthy fats in every meal, since fat-soluble vitamins A, K, E, and D require these dietary fats to get absorbed into the bloodstream from the upper small intestine. Choose monounsaturated fats found in avocados, seeds, and nuts as well as unsaturated ones present in flaxseeds and fish for enhanced nutrient absorption. Another simple change is to switch to olive oil for cooking and to dress salads.
4. Learn the right food pairings.
Just choosing the correct food combinations can ensure a balanced diet that provides high nourishment to your body. For example, pairing tomatoes with olive oil is a great combination because the healthy fats unlock the nutrients present in tomatoes and boosts their absorption.
Overcooking can destroy the nutrients in food, so in case you are boiling vegetables, keep the water and use it later as vegetable stock for a soup. Strategic combination of foods can significantly improve nutrient absorption. Moreover, including different foods into your diet provides well-rounded nourishment – foods that are high in protein content boosts the growth of your muscles while calcium-rich food is great for your bones.
5. Supplement your diet with probiotics.
Plenty of research indicates that your gut health is a major factor in your overall health. Keep your gut healthy by adding quality probiotic strains to your daily diet. Regular intake of a good probiotic supplement can help maintain the population of good bacteria in the gut, which supports immunity and digestion, and aids the body in proper absorption of nutrients from your meals. You can additionally include probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, buttermilk, and kefir to your diet.
6. Juice it up.
Newer studies suggest that fresh fruit juices may be more helpful for better nutrient absorption as compared to eating whole fruits. (2) This is because the fiber content in whole fruits prevents certain micro-nutrients from getting absorbed. While fruit juices and smoothies have the benefits of the fiber content, they are easier on your digestive system and aid maximum nutrient absorption.
7. Manage stress and limit alcohol.
Stress hurts your digestive process and reduces the absorption of nutrients in your body. Find ways to manage stress, and avoid turning to alcohol or caffeine in mass consumption to deal with your worries. Abusing these liquids can damage the cell linings present in your intestines and stomach making it harder for nutrients from your food to enter the bloodstream.
Start Getting the most from the Food You Eat
Better digestive health and nutrient absorption lead to overall health and well-being. LoveBug Probiotics’ Here’s the Skinny is a digestive health supplement that has eight probiotic strains. These strains have been shown to support digestive tract health, improved energy levels, metabolism, nutrient absorption, and the immune system. The patented Bio-Tract delivery technology ensures that these supplements bypass the stomach acid barrier to get to the lower GI tract and do the work they are designed to do. In case you have been experiencing changes in your skin, hair, or nails or have altered energy levels and/or problems with digestion, check with a healthcare professional to see if you have nutritional deficiencies.
- Rickman, Joy C, Diane M Barrett, and Christine M Bruhn. “Review Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds.” J Sci Food Agric 87, (2007): 930–944. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.2825.
- Aschoff, Julian K., Sabrina Kaufmann, Onur Kalkan, Sybille Neidhart, Reinhold Carle, and Ralf M. Schweiggert. “In Vitro Bioaccessibility of Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and Vitamin C from Differently Processed Oranges and Orange Juices [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck].” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 63, no. 2 (2015): 578-587. doi: 10.1021/jf505297t.