In the world of performance nutrition, we’re always looking for ways to be at our most optimal.
That doesn’t stop at picking the right foods to eat or drinks to drink. Once you make the clean choice, there are also ways to get the most out of it.
For instance, sometimes the break down of fruit in a fast food smoothie removes some nutrients and what remains is the sugar. And in the words of the Wall Street Journal this week, “Is sugar killing us?” . You can also read the full breakdown on the health risks of sugar.
Here are five tips to keep all of your nutrients. These are all simple lifestyle changes you can apply today to make sure you are getting the most nutrients out of your already healthy choices.
1. Don’t Drink and Eat
We’ll rip the band-aid off right away. Alcohol can keep your body from fully absorbing your meal’s nutrients, even if your eating and drinking is separate. Drinking beyond moderation will especially affect your B vitamin, zinc, and folic acid intake. There’s no other way around it then to simply consider reducing your alcohol intake.
2. Add Fat to your Veggies
Now this is sounding better.
Our list of foods with healthy fats include avocado, nuts, and olive oil. The latter is a versatile add as your go-to cooking oil and as a healthy, tasty dressing for your salad.
The reason for the healthy fat addition: your body needs fat to digest carotenoids. Vegetables are some of the highest sources of antioxidants and the fats also help the absorption of the phytochemicals in those antioxidants.
3. Pair Foods that go well together
You know when you buy some new shoes and you justify it by saying it’ll go well with an old shirt, or jeans, or what have you? Well, you can find the same value from mixing and matching healthy foods.
One of our favorite examples is having green tea with foods that are rich in Vitamin C. It increases your absorption of antioxidants. For your heart, eating foods that combined have the three major B vitamins (thiamine, B-6, and B-12) will work more efficiently to prevent artery damage.
Some more exact combos are being researched, and this WebMD article lists a few more if you’re interested. Also check out the infographic for more Food Synergy below.
4. Chew Your Food (Seriously)
This is actually where it all begins.
You know when you’re so hungry and you eat so fast that you just gulp down big gulps of, for example, steak? Well, you’re not getting the most of these large, quick bites.
When you chew that steak, or any food for that matter, into smaller particles it first and foremost helps to reduce stress on your esophagus and when the food reaches the stomach, the smaller pieces metabolize better. Furthermore, when you release more saliva on your chews, you also release more digestive enzymes.
I remember the first time I read it was important to be mindful of chewing your food into small pieces. The concept is so simple and seemingly obvious, but in fact overlooked. At the end of the day, it’s a game-changer.
One tip to apply next time you eat, via Heritage IHC and according to experts at Ohio State University: you should chew softer foods 5-10 times, and more dense foods (meats/vegetables) up to 30 times before swallowing. At the very least, the act of counting will help your mind get into that comfort zone where your chewing will become natural.
5. Take a Daily Probiotic
Here’s a study from Harvard describing the benefits of a daily probiotic including how it will help your gut-dwelling bacteria to keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, how it can even contribute to your immune function, and of course the probiotic’s ability to aid digestion and nutrient absorption.
Simply put, it will ease any pain and inflammation in your stomach allowing the digestion process to work more efficiently.
For further reading on all of the above tips, check out Daily Health Post which was the basis for this post and contains even more research on the subject.