Not only is it important to eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients we need, it’s also important to combine them properly to maximize absorption.
Create attractive and tasty dishes, however The bringing together of the specific ingredients improves the absorption of minerals and vitamins into the bloodstream. This is also influenced, among other things, by the type of preparation or the condition of the intestinal flora. This allows:
- Increase bioavailability. There are theories about how good or bad it is to combine different foods and nutrients, as proponents of “dissociated nutrition” claim, but there is no scientific evidence to support ideas like that carbohydrates cannot be mixed with proteins. However, we know that combining certain nutrients is beneficial to increase bioavailability. This is also influenced, among other things, by the type of preparation or the condition of the intestinal flora.
- Get maximum intake of vitamins and minerals. The most sophisticated alchemy occurs between micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) and some botanicals. There are also food combinations that can reduce the absorption of a micronutrient. We will highlight the beneficial and non-beneficial combinations.
1. Grains and vegetables
Some popular combinations are not optimal for a nutritionally complete intake. For example, toast with jam or muesli with fruit, as they only contain carbohydrate-rich foods that cause blood sugar levels to rise too much, which promotes weight gain and, in the long term, diseases such as diabetes.
So that the sugar level remains stable and the cells retain their sensitivity to insulin It is better to combine high-carbohydrate foods, like grain and potatoes, with lots of vegetables. These provide fiber, which slows down the absorption of sugar. In addition, fiber also reduces the risk of digestive diseases such as ulcers, acid reflux, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and cancer.
2. Proteins and Vegetables
Pairing high-protein foods helps achieve adequate proportions of amino acids for better assimilation, although the body can combine amino acids from different intakes. Definitely, It is convenient that the amounts are moderate and do not accompany them in the same meal with an excess of fat so as not to aggravate digestion.
Again, vegetables are the ideal company. Remember that a complete plate contains the three macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats).
3. Iron and Vitamin C
They make a good pair because only 40% of the iron contained in plant-based foods such as legumes, dark green leafy vegetables or seeds is absorbed. That means most of it is lost. Nevertheless, If these foods are taken together with other foods rich in vitamin C, the bioavailability can be increased up to 67% (when taking 100 mg of vitamin C).
Foods rich in vitamin C are citrus fruits, raw red peppers or berries. A good combination would be quinoa with kale, for example and citrus vinaigrette.
4. Vitamins A, D, E, K and fats
Fat-soluble vitamins are only absorbed in the presence of a fat. This combination occurs naturally in some foods, for example in avocados and nuts. But vitamin K from a vegetable, vitamin D from mushrooms, or provitamin A from carrots are much better absorbed when taken with olive oil.
Because vegetables generally contain vitamins and fat-soluble antioxidants, It’s always a good idea to prepare them with a small amount of healthy fat.
5. Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D
The bones will appreciate this combination because they need it Calcium and magnesium, and to be absorbed they need the “sun vitamin”. Legumes and vegetables provide calcium, but few plant-based sources of vitamin D (sun-dried mushrooms) exist.
The most important way to achieve this is to expose the skin to direct sunlight for at least 15-20 minutes a day. Getting used to sunbathing after lunch can be a good idea. You can also take a supplement.
6. Iron, Zinc and Sulfur
Sometimes reactions occur in a chain. as we said iron, improves the absorption of vitamin C, but the assimilation of iron is in turn favored by the presence of sulphur, and this facilitates the absorption of zinc.
The main sources of sulfur are garlic, onions, cabbage and eggs. These foods we can combine them with sources of iron and zinc such as legumes and quinoa, among others.
7. Turmeric and Black Pepper
Turmeric has been used as a flavoring for centuries, but it also has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The problem is that curcumin, its main active ingredient, is poorly absorbed by the body. Black pepper doubles its use thanks to its piperine content.
In which traditional curry mixes Turmeric is already mixed with black pepper and other spices. It is also highly recommended to take it with a fat like olive or coconut oil. For example, you can prepare a dressing based on olive oil (50 g), turmeric powder (10 g) and black pepper (5 g).
Combinations that remove nutrients
When preparing the menu, food pairs that create barriers and hinder the absorption of nutrients can be avoided.
phytates and minerals
Phytic acid, found in legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts, forms strong bonds with iron, zinc, and calcium, making absorption difficult. Fermenting, soaking and sprouting reduces phytic acid content. However, a small amount of phytic acid is beneficial for the body because it has antioxidant properties and prevents the formation of kidney stones.
oxalates and magnesium or calcium
Foods rich in oxalate, such as cocoa, spinach or beets, can reduce the absorption of magnesium and calcium. Mix oatmeal with cocoa can lead to magnesium being less absorbed by the body. Likewise, combining dairy products or whole grains with vegetables, which are very high in oxalates, can reduce calcium absorption.
calcium and iron
These two essential minerals compete for uptake. Because of this, It is advisable to separate the intake of foods with iron by a few hours (legumes, pumpkin seeds, potatoes, mushrooms etc.), of calcium-rich products (milk, cabbage, tofu and nuts etc.).
legumes and cocoa
After a delicious dish of lentils, you might want a dessert with cocoa. Better not. We may have soaked the lenses to maximize iron absorption. We can even combine them with peppers in a salad to improve absorption of the mineral. but If we have cocoa for dessert, which is very rich in tannins, we build a barrier again so that the iron does not penetrate into the organism.
alcohol and fat
Alcohol is never good, but when taken with fat, its effects are worse. The liver prioritizes the metabolism of alcohol, because it identifies it as toxic and the assimilation of fats is delayed, increasing the risk of their accumulation.
Green tea, better alone
Neither with meals nor mixed with milk. To maximize the beneficial effects of tea it is better to take it a couple of hours apart from meals. In addition, it will not affect the absorption of iron.
Cooking that improves the assimilation of nutrients
When preparing the dishes, it is important not only to pay attention to the combinations, but also to pay attention to the preparation. In general, cooking makes many nutrients easier to digest and absorb, but it can also reduce the concentration of some nutrients. The temperature, the cooking time or the presence of water or fat affect the final nutrient content.
- Do not remove skin: If it is edible, it should not be removed as a higher concentration of nutrients and antioxidants is usually found in or just below it. For example, it is convenient to use the green and outer leaves of lettuce for the same reason.
- In big chunks: Another way to preserve the soluble vitamins and minerals in vegetables is to steam them, cut them into large chunks, or cook them whole. You can also use the cooking water to prepare soups, purees, vegetable creams or sauces.
Take care of the microbiota
Intestinal bacteria are involved in the breakdown and utilization of nutrients. For example, certain carbohydrates are fermented by bacteria to release beneficial short-chain fatty acids. Gut bacteria also help synthesize biotin, folic acid, and vitamin K.
For the well-being of the microbiota:
- The diet should be low in fat, with no added or refined sugars, and very high in fiber (fruits, vegetables and legumes).
- Hydration improves the absorption and transport of nutrients to the tissues where they are needed. Water is the medium for most chemical reactions in the body, especially energy production.
- Rest, relaxation, is another essential ingredient. Stressful situations increase our nutritional needs, especially vitamin C, B vitamins and magnesium. In fact, digestion stops in a state of panic. On the other hand, relaxation favors the proper development of all the physiological processes in which nutrients are involved.
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