We may be aware of which foods are healthy in general and which foods are not, however, very often we find ourselves not able to make the most out of the food we eat despite it being healthy. The nutritional value of the ingredients separately is very different from the combined nutritional value and bioavailability once it’s cooked and it’s also very different from the nutrient uptake in our body.
This is why it is important for us to optimize what we are eating 100% to ensure that we make the most out of what we eat. There are several ways to optimize the nutritional value of food:
Eating Vitamin C rich foods with Iron-rich foods
Consuming Vitamin C rich foods (lemon, citrus fruits, amla, guava, broccoli, capsicum) with iron-rich foods (lentils, pulses, cereals, green leafy vegetables, dry fruits, meat) increase iron uptake by up to 67% in our body.
Not eating Iron-rich foods and calcium-rich foods together
In our body, calcium and iron compete for the same receptors because of which calcium inhibits the absorption of iron when taken together. This is why we should avoid consuming foods rich in iron (lentils, pulses, cereals, green leafy vegetables, dry fruits, meat) with foods rich in calcium (milk and milk products, ragi, soy, sesame seeds)
Pairing Vitamin D rich foods with calcium-rich foods
Both Vitamin D and Calcium are responsible for healthy bones. In our body, Vitamin D helps in the absorption of Calcium. To increase Vitamin- D levels in our body through diet and lifestyle, we must consume Vitamin D fortified foods (milk and oil) and expose our skin to sunlight for at least 20 minutes every day.
Eating fat-soluble vitamin-rich foods cooked in fat
As the name suggests, fat-soluble vitamins assimilate themselves in fats to get absorbed in the body. The fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A (naturally orange and red-colored fruits and vegetables), Vitamin D (fortified foods, exposure to sunlight), Vitamin E (green leafy vegetables), and Vitamin K (cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, eggs). To increase their uptake in the body, these food items should either be paired with healthy fats (nuts, oilseeds, avocado, fish) or cooked in fats (ghee/oil/butter).
Eating water-soluble vitamin-rich foods raw
Foods, especially fruits and vegetables containing water-soluble vitamins- Vitamin B (spinach, avocados, banana, watermelon, tomatoes) and Vitamin C should try to be consumed raw, steamed, boiled.
Germinating (sprouting) cereals and pulses
Germination (sprouting) has traditionally been used in Indian households to improve the nutritional quality of cereals and pulses. Germination reduces anti-nutritional compounds that are naturally present in cereals and pulses while also boosting the amount of free amino acids and available carbohydrates. Cereals such as wheat, barley, oats, rice, millets, and pulses such as green gram, moong, and masoor can be germinated.
Including superfoods in your diet
Superfoods refers to those exceptional foods that are loaded with nutrients. Some examples of superfoods include acai berry, blueberry, salmon, pomegranate, green leafy vegetables, eggs, turmeric, garlic, seaweed, and many more.
Eating locally grown, seasonal foods
When we purchase food that is local, we are assured of the freshness and thus the viability of the food. Fresher produce tends to be more nutrient-dense.
Soaking and chopping ingredients
Soaking grains and pulses reduces the anti-nutritional factors in the. Chopping up vegetables before cooking them also frees up some nutrients from the rigid cell wall structure to make them more available for us to eat.
Avoid overeating and actively eat food
The most important thing is to avoid overeating, consuming all foods in moderation, and enjoying what you eat.
While these methods optimize and increase the bioavailability of nutrients in our bodies, each of us reacts differently to all foods, afterall, health is dependent on not just one marker but an amalgamation of factors. To know the best way of optimizing nutrition that works for you, get in touch with us so we can create a customized diet plan for you!