Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv Dip Nut Med)
1. Add fats
Vitamins A, D, E and K are all known as ‘fat soluble’ meaning they require fats present to be absorbed. Vegetables are rich in these guys so best way to increase absorption? Add some butter to your steamed veggies, drizzle that salad in olive oil or have a baked potato with cheese
2. Spice things up!
Using spices and herbs to flavour your foods just increases the nutrition and ultimately the health benefits of your dish. Food IS medicine after all!
Herbs and spices are healing and each contribute their own unique array of benefits – so always good to use a variety. Some faves of mine…
Turmeric – bright yellow spice which I use in EVERYTHING I possibly can. I mix a shot each morning of turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar with a splash of warm water or a little kombucha to fire up my digestion and circulation first thing. Can be added to warm coconut milk to drink, into scrambled eggs, curries, soups – you name it. Its highly anti-inflammatory, potent antioxidant, detoxifying and immune building – so many reasons to include it daily
Paprika – deliciously smokey flavour and rich in carotenoids – which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, also great source of vitamin C and as part of the pepper family is also a source of capsaicin which helps with pain relief and circulation
Cumin – great for digestion and nutrient absorption
Parsley – source of iron, vitamin C and detoxifying for the liver
Mint – calming and great for digestive support – peppermint oil capsules have shown benefit in those suffering with IBS.
Rosemary – great for cognition and memory!
Coriander seeds – also detoxifying, helps to bind to toxins within the body and eliminate them
Fennel seeds – a digestive aid and adds a slight subtle sweetness, I love these sprinkled on a breakfast bowl of greens and eggs w avo – yum!
Cayenne – stimulating, warming and clearing. Great for immune support and an analgesic (pain relief)
Ginger – helps to reduce nausea and stomach cramps, as well as soothing for the digestive tract. Also anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, immune supporting
Cinnamon – blood sugar balancing, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon on foods is like giving yourself a warm hug
3. To up your iron
Iron is present in 2 forms: haem and non-haem. Haem iron is what we find in our animal products – red meats, eggs etc and its much more easily absorbed and used by the body. But for our vegetarian friends who rely on non-haem sources from chickpeas, lentils, spinach and seeds to help get more out of your meal try adding a little vitamin C. You can do this by drizzling lemon juice over your salads, or pairing a meal with a white wine (note that red wine can reduce iron absorption).
What not to do: have a black tea or cup of coffee with meals, this can actually block the absorption of minerals
4. Soak your grains
Phytates present in grains, nuts and seeds reduce the absorption of nutrients from these foods. Best way to rid your food of these compounds? By simply soaking them in water, drain and then rinse prior to cooking – easiest way is to leave them soaking overnight (hello overnight oats), it also makes things easier on your digestive system.. its not ‘you are what you eat’, but rather ‘you are what you absorb’!
5. Read the ingredients, not the calories
When sussing out a nutritional panel on packaged foods, rather than look at the total calories or even just the carbs, fats or protein content look at the ingredients. You’ll want to be able to understand and know what is listed, when weird numbers and letter combos are popping up and you have no idea what that is, best not to put that into your body cos’ it probably has no idea what that is either, or what to do with it.
6. Learn to cook
Digestion begins long before you take your first bite. The smell, the look, the thought starts the whole process as your body prepares to eat, saliva and other enzymes begin to secrete – but when we’re relying on take away, ‘convenient’ meals, shakes and snacks this whole process is skipped. Meal times should be sacred, less distractions, a quiet time to sit, eat, chew your food and be mindful of everything that’s happening. Digestive problems are rampant now-a-days and I believe that the way we approach meal times and cooking can have a great impact on how we feel after foods. Try to avoid eating on the run if you can, or eating lunch at your desk while still hard at work and avoid eating when stressed/anxious – try some deep breathing to get your body to a relaxed state & then, take a bite.
7. Just Eat Real Food #JERF
You may have seen this hash-tagged over social media already. The meaning behind it is simple: just eat what the earth has provided us to eat. Investing into eating the right foods now, a varied diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, quality meats, eggs and wholegrains that have been minimally processed is worthwhile to avoid the costs of ill-health later down the track. Make your plate a rainbow with each meal, getting a wide variety of foods. Mother nature has so wonderfully packaged our foods with vitamins and minerals in perfect ratios as well as fibre, antioxidants and other plant compounds known as phytonutrients that provide a whole host of health benefits that fortified foods and synthetic supplements just cannot give us.
This doesn’t mean you must deprive yourself - have that cake, or go out for a treat, eat some pizza, but rather have these things in balance with a good, wholesome diet.
Food is to be enjoyed, to be shared, to nourish and to respect
Yours in health,