• Dirk Bakker-Alvarez

Bring out the best in your food with these science-based tips

Nourishing our minds and bodies doesn’t always require a big shift in diet. In fact, when it comes to mindful eating, tweaking the little things we do often leads to longer-lasting change.


Listening closely to our cravings, making tiny swaps here and there, and introducing variety little by little all boost what it is we get out of our food. Something as simple as paying attention to how we pair ingredients can help us reap more benefits out of what it is we are already eating!


Read on to learn a few simple tricks for bringing out the best in your food so that it can bring out the best in you!


A breakdown on how your body breaks it down! Once you eat something, it can take up to several days to digest it. All the while, your body works on breaking down your food - deriving energy and nutrients from it, and separating out the things your body doesn’t need.


For fruits, veggies, and other fiber-rich foods, this breakdown process can take less than a day. For meat, this process can take up to 72 hours. Keep in mind, too, that factors such as gender, metabolism, exercise, sleep, and overall health determine how long food stays in your system, and what you get out of it. That is why the journey of mindful eating is so individualistic and personal!


This breakdown process happening within you occurs around the clock, so it is affects how you feel and function. It also determines how much nourishment you pull from the foods you eat.


Bringing out the best in the foods you are already eating. Luckily, studies continue to reveal ways we can get involved in our own digestive process - boosting our nourishment, and just making us feel good! Here are a few simple evidence-based tips for bringing out the best in your food:

  • Pair Vitamin C with iron. There are two general forms of iron; one comes from meat, and one comes from plants. Meat-based iron is absorbed readily by our bodies, while our bodies only absorb 1-10% of the iron derived from plants. Can we boost the iron we get from plants? Yes! Simply pair Vitamin C (found in abundance in in citrus, broccoli and peppers) with any plant-based meal. Vitamin C both boosts iron absorption and reduces the presence of absorption-blocking acids during the digestive process. (Lentils and broccoli, anyone? Yum!)

  • Pair fats with veggies. This one may surprise you! Certain vitamins need fats to bring out their superpowers. Carrots and tomatoes, for example, offer the most nourishment when paired with up to 6 grams of fat. So, consider pulling out the full-fat salad dressing and keep the fat free dressing on the shelf.

  • Pair – or don’t pair – antinutrients with dairy (depends on you!). Some of us need more calcium in our bodies (generally speaking, women who are breast feeding), and some need less (for example, kidney stone sufferers). Depending on your situation, consider that anti-nutrients (compounds that, when paired with food, make it insoluble) such as spinach, chocolate, strawberries, and nuts decrease the amount of calcium your body can pull from dairy products.

Show your mind and body extra love by keep up to date on what research reveals about the science of eating. Look beyond fad diets, and put science to work in a way that makes sense for you!


To dive deeper into everyday, science-led wellness ideas, follow us on our sister company page here.


References


Beck, K. L., Conlon, C. A., Kruger, R., & Coad, J. (2014). Dietary determinants of and possible solutions to iron deficiency for young women living in industrialized countries: a review. Nutrients, 6(9), 3747-3776.


López, M. A., & Martos, F. C. (2004). Iron availability: An updated review. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 55(8), 597-606.


Massey, L. K. (2007). Food oxalate: factors affecting measurement, biological variation, and bioavailability. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(7), 1191-1194.


McConnell, E. L., Fadda, H. M., & Basit, A. W. (2008). Gut instincts: explorations in intestinal physiology and drug delivery. International journal of pharmaceutics, 364(2), 213-226.


Milani, A., Basirnejad, M., Shahbazi, S., & Bolhassani, A. (2017). Carotenoids: biochemistry, pharmacology and treatment. British journal of pharmacology, 174(11), 1290-1324.