Bioavailability: Have Your Nutrients And Absorb Them Too

October 07, 2020 3 min read

Bioavailability: Have Your Nutrients And Absorb Them Too

If you're reading this, one can assume that you take a vested interest in your health and wellness. You follow a diverse, plant-based diet, moderate caffeine, and alcohol intake, engage in some sort of physical activity daily (be that a brisk walk or barre class), and generally strive to do right by your body (and mind, and soul, of course).

But are you *really* reaping the benefits of these admirable actions? When it comes to diet, consumption of nutrient-dense food is key, but there is a missing link for many: bioavailability, the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Confused? Consider the aforementioned barre class as a point of comparison. Sure, you’ve taken the critical step of showing up to your boutique workout. But, once the sweat session begins, if your form is wrong, you won’t work your muscles as intended, and you won’t see the desired results of a lean, toned physique. Think of poor plié form as equivalent to ignoring your meal’s bioavailability.

In short, we need to eat well - and strategically - for optimal absorption of food’s nutritional content. Fret not! It’s easier to eat with bioavailability in mind than it is to detach yourself from your iPhone. You can ensure optimal absorption through two game-changing techniques:

Eat foods in their most bioavailable forms.

  • Raw is right for absorption of B vitamins, folate, and vitamin C from foods like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, peas, and spinach.
  • Cooking tomatoes and carrots increases the bioavailability of antioxidant lycopene and beta-carotene (vitamin A), respectively; asparagus, mushrooms, squash, and potatoes are among other veggies best consumed cooked (Pro Tip: steam or cook veggies whole at low heat, as up to 25% more nutrients can be retained versus a cut-then-cook method, plus, high-temperature cook methods can actually diminish nutritional value).
  • Soaking legumes and nuts before consumption reduces "anti-nutrient" coatings that block iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium absorption.
  • Crushing or chopping garlic enhances its disease-preventing, heart-protecting properties, triggering an enzyme reaction that increases the bioavailability of the antioxidant allicin and other healthy compounds.

Food combine for optimal nutrient absorption.

  • Iron & Vitamin C: Plant-based iron is best digested when paired with Vitamin C, so add some citrus to your bed of spinach to maximize the bioavailability of iron in your greens. Rather stick with a savory combo? Serve up a dish containing iron-rich black beans and Vitamin C-rich yellow peppers.
  • Healthy Fat & Vitamins A, D, E, K: These vital vitamins are fat-soluble, and therefore best absorbed when there’s fat in the mix (or, in this case, in your dish). Add avocado to your kale caesar, or dress your salad with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for optimal absorption.
  • Sulforaphanes & Selenium: These two antioxidants are best absorbed as a dynamic duo. The former is prevalent in veggies like bok choy and brussels sprouts, while the latter is found in foods like chicken, fish, and nuts. Basically, these duos are what dinner dreams are made of.
  • Turmeric & Black Pepper: Turmeric, everyone’s favorite anti-inflammatory hero, packs a more powerful punch when consumed with black pepper, which increases the bioavailability and potency of Turmeric’s all-star compound, curcumin. Apply this combo to pretty much any veggie or protein dish for a delicious, nutritious result.

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