Gone are the days where only people who eat unhealthy suffered from poor nutrient absorption.
Today, even vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters who consume healthy food are prone to malnourishment and certain nutrient deficiencies. Some healthy eaters complain that they try their hard to exercise regularly and consume the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals – and some take supplements, but still have nutrient deficiencies, low energy levels, and health issues.
Why does it happen? There are dozens of reasons why.
First of all, it depends on the quality of the foods you’re regularly putting in your body. It’s not a secret that the majority of food items available in the supermarkets these days are of poor quality.
However, the reason might lie deep within the gut and it’s all about the microbes that thrive there. Before we discuss the ways to absorb more nutrients from your food, let’s discuss the major reason for possible malnourishment.
What’s happening in your gut?
Synthesizing the nutrients from the consumed foods is one of the major functions of your gut system. It doesn’t mean you should eat a lot of food during the day.
Even if you eat five big meals, you might still experience certain nutrient deficiencies. It all depends on how well your body absorbs all the essential vitamins and minerals from your meals and supplements.
You could eat the healthiest diet and live a super healthy life, but if your microbiome and digestive system are subpar, your nutrient absorption and the ability to combat illnesses will be subpar as well.
How to Absorb More Nutrients from Your Food
Keeping your gut healthy is key to a better nutrient absorption, albeit sometimes a few actions can be taken to optimize your vitamin and mineral absorption.
It doesn’t mean you should eat more food or rely on supplements. Check out some simple yet effective ways you can help your body absorb more nutrients from meals you eat daily.
1.Maintain a strong gut barrier
Made up of the mighty gut microbes and the intestinal wall, your gut barrier is considered as the divider between the external environment and the bloodstream.
The most interesting thing is that your gut barrier allows nutrients in – that’s why it’s called selectively permeable – while keeping bad bacteria, antigens, and toxins out.
When your gut barrier functions improperly because of a lack of good bacteria and friendly flora, your body has trouble absorbing vitamins and minerals, which might lead to bad immune reactions and allergies.
The regular consumption of glutamine-rich foods helps your body absorb nutrients better and maintain the integrity of your gut barrier. Glutamine-rich foods, such as beans, lentils, tofu, dairy, spinach, cabbage, fish, etc., help to protect the intestinal wall.
You should also add prebiotic foods to your weekly menu in order to keep the inner ecosystem healthy. Prebiotics are essential indigestible fibers that feed your good bacteria in the gut while strengthening the immune system, supporting your gut barrier, keeping the body weight in check, and enhancing vitamin and mineral absorption. Bananas, asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, and dandelion greens are all excellent sources of prebiotics.
Additionally, you should also include probiotics in your daily menu, such as pickles, yogurt, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir. If you’re vegan or you’re on a raw diet, you might consider taking a daily probiotic supplement.
Probiotics will supply billions of good bacteria to aids in maintaining your intestinal wall strong. Probiotics are highly required and here’s why…
2.Increase your consumption of probiotics
The gut contains trillions of various bacteria and most of them are good bacteria that work hard to maintain a lot of vital bodily processes, especially the digestive system.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that aid in breaking down the food you consume daily into tiny components, which the body is able to absorb, producing enzymes that improve digestion and enhance nutrient absorption.
Probiotics have many health benefits. For instance, there are certain probiotics that stimulate lactase production that help lactose-intolerant people to digest foods that contain lactose.
Luckily, the microbes in your gut supply the body with about a third of all the essential vitamins, vitamins, and chemicals your body needs.
When it comes to improving nutrient absorption or you frequently face certain nutrient deficiencies, consider increasing your intake of probiotics. If you have difficulty eating probiotic-rich foods, look for a high-quality probiotic formula. It’s supposed to deliver a plethora of live organisms into your gut.
3.Consider intermittent fasting
There are many disputes around intermittent fasting and many scientists and doctors don’t recommend it. But, multiple researches have shown that individuals who have no health issues can benefit from intermittent fasting.
As strange as it sounds, you don’t have to eat a lot in order to boost your nutrient intake. Intermittent fasting can help you diversify your gut bacteria, but it’s important to consult a doctor or a nutritionist first.
According to a research, intermittent fasting helps to ward off chronic inflammation, which is linked to a variety of diseases. How does intermittent fasting work? Everyday or weekly fasting lets your whole digestive system and your hardworking gut microbes take a short break, allowing you to get rid of toxins.
This short break also helps your friendly flora to reset and take care of functions other than digestion. For instance, this break will help your friendly flora increase its good bacteria population.
Moreover, intermittent fasting also helps to ward off a leaky gut barrier. A research shows that everyday fasting helps to keep the gut barrier strong, protecting against harmful bacteria, which tend to get into the bloodstream, triggering an inflammatory and immune response.
Since intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, you can alter it to suit your needs. For instance, you can include intermittent fasting in your meal plan by having an early dinner and eating a late breakfast in the morning so that you have at least a 1-hour break between the meals.
Keep practicing such eating habit for at least a week or so, and gradually increase the time between breakfast and dinner until you reach a 14 to 16-hour break between your two main meals. Do it for a month and see how healthy your gut will become.
4.Pay attention to what you eat
As mentioned before, today’s foods are packed with the opposite of vitamins and minerals. All those processed foods, artificial ingredients, sugar, and salt negatively affect your gut health by weakening your beneficial bacteria and sometimes even killing them, triggering multiple diseases.
Furthermore, it’s important to know that the foods you consume can change your gut bacteria within a few hours after eating. Check out your grocery store’s lists or fridge and see what can destroy your gut health.
Switch unhealthy stuff to whole and plant-based foods, which are loaded with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants. You don’t necessarily have to become a vegan or vegetarian, but try to take breaks from meat. How about having a meatless Monday or Thursday?
Also, quality foods tend to be expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, you might think you can’t afford to buy healthy food. In reality, it’s much cheaper to eat healthy. Look for budget-friendly healthy meal plans on Facebook or YouTube that consists of whole and plant-based foods only.
5.Reduce your stress levels
Stress is the major culprit in many health issues. The increased levels of stress can result in malnourishment, too. The state of your nervous system can greatly impact how well you digest the food you put in your body.
If you live in “fight or flight” mode and your stress levels keep raising instead of decreasing, it will make your body to get ready for urgent actions and change a lot of functions, which aren’t needed for your frequent survival.
Your digestive system suffers in the first place. It slows down or even stops functioning altogether as your body focuses on the processes, such as boosting your heart rate.
The thing is, the high stress levels directly affect your digestive system and gradually destroy your whole system, especially your gut microbes, reducing your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals.
In order to begin the “rest and digest” mode that is responsible for the muscle relaxation, enzyme release, enhanced saliva, and healthy gut bacteria, you should meditate, exercise, get enough sleep, and keep a full control of your stress levels. In other words, do whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed.
6.Be careful with antibiotics and other microbe depleters
Modern life is full of chemicals that make more bad than good to us. From toxic and antibacterial cleaner products for the home to medications and pesticides, there are many things that secretly ruin your beneficial bacteria that you need for a proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
Antibiotics are the most popular good bacteria depleters. Even if you don’t take antibiotics as medicine, you can get it from the food you eat daily, especially meat and meat products.
There are other medications, including NSAIDs, antacids, and birth control, might also be harmful to your friendly flora working and the entire digestive system.
The majority of antibacterial products like personal care products and home cleaners are created to destroy all bacteria, including beneficial bacteria.
Protect your beneficial bacteria by staying away from anything that can destroy them in your gut. Avoid taking medications – unless you truly need it, and using toxic chemicals and antimicrobial products.
Moreover, ensure the water and food you drink and eat is from as a clean source or organic. Look for the labels that contain words like antibiotic-free, preservative-free, pesticide-free, and organic.
7.Avoid drinking tea or coffee at mealtimes
Actually, drinking any beverage – be it a glass of fresh orange juice or a cup of green tea – can negatively affect your nutrient absorption.
While both black and green teas are rich in healthy polyphenols and numerous compounds that help to decrease the likelihood of developing chronic illnesses and conditions, these compounds help to inhibit absorption of essential minerals like iron.
When eating, avoid having juice, tea, or coffee to ensure your body will be able to absorb all the vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.
When dining out, we often drink alcohol while eating. This is a bad habit, as well. Alcohol reduces the production of digestive enzymes, damaging the cell linings of the intestines and stomach, making it hard for the vitamin, minerals, and antioxidants from digestion to enter your bloodstream.
Keep your body hydrated by drinking filtered water. It might not be as tasty as wine or coffee, but it’s super healthy.
8.Store your food right
Sometimes the food you eat loses its nutrients long before you cook it. That’s why it’s important to store your food right. For instance, store your veggies, except the root ones, in the fridge.
When it comes to fruit, keep them away from direct light and store at room temperature. Tomatoes and avocadoes are better to be stored in the fridge.
Cut veggies and fruit quickly lose their vitamin C content, so as soon as you cut your veggie or fruit and don’t need it, squeeze some lemon juice on the cut side and place it in an airtight container. Herbs can quickly lose their phytonutrients if they’re stored incorrectly. You can either chop up your herbs and freeze, or play it in a glass of water and away from direct light. Store seeds and dried fruit in airtight containers in your pantry.
It may seem overwhelming right now, but making a few lifestyle changes can play a significant difference in how your body will absorb nutrients from your food. Pay attention to the way you cook your food.
Fried food can contain fewer vitamins and minerals than steamed or boiled food, for example. Don’t forget to move your body, hydrate it, give it a rest from stresses, and provide it with enough sleep.
The overall healthy lifestyle can enhance your nutrient absorption for sure.