Nutrient Absorption: Make the Most of What You Eat
Effective Nutrient Absorption Is Key To Good Health
Nutrients are vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and other important substances your body and brain need to develop and flourish. You get your nutrients from the food you eat.
So, you might assume that if you eat a healthy diet, you’re taking in the nutrients you need for your body and brain to thrive. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. This is because we often don’t fully absorb the nutrients we ingest from our food or supplements.
Nutrient absorption occurs in the small intestine, where these substances enter your blood vessels so that they can be transported to whatever area of your body or brain needs them. But if the conditions aren’t right, nutrients can pass through your digestive tract without being absorbed. Over time, poor nutrient absorption can contribute to serious deficiencies and disease.
Here, we give you a few simple tips for creating the best conditions for effective nutrient absorption:
Eat for Gut Health
Having a healthy gut is key to effective nutrient absorption. To maintain a healthy gut, you need both probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are the live bacteria that live in your gut. It’s important to keep these flourishing by eating certain foods, particularly fermented foods such as tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Probiotic supplements can also be an effective way to make sure you are getting sufficient live bacteria in your gut.
Good gut health also depends on getting enough prebiotics into the gut. Prebiotics feed the probiotics. You get prebiotics from high-fiber foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Keeping your gut healthy with flourishing pro and prebiotics will help your body break down the food you eat more easily and better absorb the nutrients it needs.
Choose Potent Food Pairings
Another way to improve gut health and make sure your body absorbs the nutrients it needs is to eat certain foods together. These food pairings help break down the nutrients you’re ingesting into forms that the body can more easily absorb. Here are some easy combinations to get you started:
Vitamin C and Plant-Based Iron
Iron from plants such as spinach is absorbed best when it is eaten with a source of Vitamin C. Combining a source of iron with a source of Vitamin C within a single meal will give you the most benefit. For example, a smoothie that contains spinach and blueberries will help you achieve maximum absorption of the iron.
Tomatoes and Olive Oil
Tomatoes are full of lycopene, a disease-fighting antioxidant. Cooking tomatoes and combining them with olive oil helps the body absorb the lycopene. A homemade marinara sauce brings these ingredients together for maximum nutrient absorption.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D increases absorption of calcium from foods and supplements. Combine foods with Vitamin D such as mushrooms or eggs with foods that contain calcium such as collard greens, curly kale, okra, or spinach. Try an omelet with your favorite calcium-filled veggies for full nutrient absorption.
Fat and Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Certain vitamins need to be paired with a source of fat to be absorbed well. These include Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Leafy greens contain many of these vitamins which can be paired with a source of unsaturated fat such as avocado, olive oil, seeds, or nuts. A spinach salad with avocado dressing is the perfect combo for optimal nutrient absorption.
It’s important to eat a variety of proteins so that you are getting all the amino acids your body needs, including those from plant sources. Plant protein combos that boost nutrient absorption include black beans and rice, hummus and whole-wheat crackers, and quinoa and corn.
Watch What You Drink
Hydration plays an important role in your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Drinking water with your meal helps break down your food and transport nutrients via your blood. For optimal health, drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day, including water.
If you’re drinking tea and coffee, be mindful that both can inhibit nutrient absorption if you drink them with your meal. Save these drinks for when you aren’t eating. And reduce alcohol consumption as much as possible, as it too will interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Check Stress Levels
Stress is another factor that can affect nutrient absorption. When we are constantly in a state of low-grade fight or flight, the body often responds with biochemical byproducts such as indigestion or heartburn. This can affect the body’s ability to digest and absorb the nutrients it needs. Taking steps to reduce stress is important to increase nutrient absorption. Yoga, meditation, and walking in nature (without your phone) can help reduce stress.
Get the Full Picture
There are many more factors that can affect nutrient absorption and a wide variety of options for increasing your body’s absorption capacity. At Nature’s Link Wellness Center, we can help you uncover behaviors that may be affecting your body’s nutrient intake. Natural health consultations in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana focus on improving your health through a balance of proper diet, hydration, fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and rest. All recommendations are tailored to your individual needs, lifestyle, and goals.
To find out more about nutrient absorption in Breaux Bridge, Lafayette, and the entire Acadiana area, call 337-332-2705 or reach us online.