Knowing how effectively your body absorbs nutrients from food, can yield you a healthier life than you’ve ever anticipated. It’s not the six-pack abs or the toned glutes, i.e. the outcome of knocking the workout regime that makes you healthier enough to sustain. What gets ignored essentially is the role of nutrients and nutrient absorption in our bodies.
Is your life more oblivious than death? ask this question. If yes, here’s what you need to learn: “how to improve nutrient absorption” for your well-being.
Your body is solely built and powered by the food you consume. The body’s proficiency to convert food into nutrients is extremely sophisticated, which is incomparable and unbiased in itself.
The army of packed nutrients isn’t playing a role, unless properly absorbed by your GI tract, meaning that just optimizing the nutrition level doesn’t count for a healthier self. The right approach is to know “what happens to nutrients once down the gorge (the alimentary canal)”.
Whilst you have got a healthy stocked pantry — the seasonal aroma of fruits and veggies with fresh herbs and spices in handy, it all means nothing if your body cannot digest and absorb the goodness of it.
Without efficient nutrient absorption, the body’s functionality will deteriorate, leaving you susceptible to deficiencies and diseases. This is where you should take up a standpoint and learn how to improve nutrient absorption from your list of essentials and favorites — soaking up the goodness lying beneath!
The benefits of this process will be visible to you as it will support your body’s growth, development, and aging; according to your age, helping to maintain healthy body weight; promoting healthy pregnancy and conceiving; keeping chronic diseases at bay.
From my personal experience, better nutrient absorption keeps you energetic on the fast track, supporting your mental health like no other remedy.
The Nutrients that are needed for the growth and maintenance
The ultimate wellbeing duo that makes up your balanced diet, also known as the workhorses of our body are macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients — comprises carbohydrates, protein, and fats. They are the main energy reservoirs of the body, providing calories measured in terms of Kcal.
Micronutrients — Vitamins and minerals are nominated for this category, as they don’t provide calories but are essential in a precise little amount for cell growth and development.
Besides, water also counts as one of the six essential nutrients needed on a daily basis.
But, no one food contains all the nutrients, that too in the amount that’s necessary for you to be healthy.
How are nutrients absorbed by the body?
Before you take a morsel of food, imagine how nutrients are absorbed by the body.
It all happens in the gastrointestinal (or GI) tract, call it simply the “gut”, consecutively in two stages: digestion and absorption.
To put it simply, digestion is breaking down food mechanically and chemically into smaller units that are finally available as absorbable nutrients. This means chewing your tortillas, drowning them in an acid bath of your stomach, moving all the way down to the intestine.
While absorption is transporting those molecular tortilla bits from the gut into the bloodstream for circulation.
Here’s a sequential cheat sheet of the process:
- Chewing and introduction of enzymes in mouth (let’s digestion by 20%), with saliva making it easy to swallow.
- Drenching food in acid bath in the stomach for killing microbes and partially breaking them into pieces with the help of enzymes.
- Further breakdown in the small intestine by enzymes, i.e. the body’s actual absorption center.
- Nutrients enter the bloodstream for circulation throughout the body.
- Breakdown of complex fiber in the large intestine by trillions of microbes which support our health.
How to improve nutrient absorption?
Here are 5 simple ways to absorb nutrients from food:
- Eating slowly — “Don’t gobble your food, but eat more slowly”. Is there any truth to this old saying? If “No”, why do some animals eat slowly?
Gaze your sight at the cattle sitting on the grass field. Notice how slowly and peacefully they have been chewing. All for the purpose of getting the most out of the nutrients.
For the human body to absorb nutrients, they must be reduced to tiny building blocks. Chunks of macronutrients that didn’t get chew properly, will pass the body without getting absorbed.
- Pairing the right food — Adding whatever combination to the plate will not only cause an irritable stomach but also prevent the nutrients from getting absorbed. Here are some good pairings:
- Pair healthy fat with your dishes!
Fats help absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K found in a certain food. So, go ahead and add “green-butter” (flavor-packed avocados) to your salad or toast and never forget to toss your favorite virgin oil before baking some veggies.
- Addition of vitamin C helps absorb iron – an important key aspect for vegetarians.
Iron-rich food should be combined with vitamin C such as citron or lime juice. This isn’t necessary in the case of non-vegetarian sources of iron. That’s because meat, fish, and poultry contain the “Heme form”, which gets absorbed by the body easily. But, “Non-heme” iron is mainly found in plant sources.
- Caffeine interferes with nutrient absorption, including vitamin B group and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium. Thus, drink coffee in between meals.
- Pairing Calcium with vitamin D
3. Don’t ignore your gut health — As always, proteins are the talk of the town, but gut-friendly food goes missing from it. Taking care of your gut is vital, don’t ignore that. It’s where nutrients absorption takes place.
The gut has millions of active microbes that need to be preserved. Eating gut-friendly food such as yogurt, curd, kefir, sour milk, other fermented foods, and probiotics will improve gut health by restoring the microbiome culture.
4. Over-exercising is bad for you, stop that! — Exercising is good for health, but over-exercising will make leave a bad impact. After exercise, the body needs nutrients for repair and growth. Over-exercising and not giving enough time to your body to recover from the loss, can lead to nutrient deficiency.
5. Work on your stress factor — Stress can affect your digestion and absorption of food. A high level of stress is said to deplete the body of Vitamin B’s, essential for the nervous system. Stress over-produces the hormone “cortisol”, which is also said to deplete vitamin C, an important antioxidant in the body.