If you are interested in living a healthier and longer life, you already know just how important it is to give your body all the nutrients it needs.
However, you should also understand that nutrient intake is not just about the foods we pick to consume.
More precisely, even if you are eating food that is high in all kinds of nutrients such as antioxidants, iron, calcium and vitamins, you may still be getting far less out of it than you think depending on the food pairings you go for.
A vegan dietician by the name of Catherine Perez explains that there are many different factors that contribute to how the human body absorbs food.
“Regardless of all your dietary choices, your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is going to sort of change throughout your life cycle,’ the expert mentions.
For instance, she notes that due to their active lifestyle, children need more nutrients than grown-ups.
During adulthood, on the other hand, the body is no longer able to digest certain vitamins such as B12 as well as others, this being the case because the acid in our stomach decreases with age.
As it turns out, for vegetarians and vegans in particular, “certain plant based foods have different absorbability rates, and they can change, depending on how you treat the foods and even what you may be eating those foods with.”
Thankfully, there are some nutrients that can increase one’s ability to absorb them when paired together.
- Zinc and Sulfur
Perez notes that “Zinc is another nutrient that tends to be quite a concern for those looking to go plant based.”
You can find it in seeds, legumes such as chickpeas and in grains and can be better absorbed by the body when paired with sulfur.
The good news is that you’re probably already doing this by cooking chickpeas, for instance, with sulfur sources such as garlic and onion.
- Calcium and Vitamin D
Bone health is obviously really important whether you’re vegan or not and calcium plays a vital role in this.
Perez says that “When you have those calcium rich foods and you have enough vitamin D in your diet, your body’s going to be able to absorb it better.”
Some calcium rich foods are almond and soy milk as well as plant based yogurts and the way you can pair these foods with vitamin D is to simply take a walk after your meal since sunlight is the source for it.
- Antioxidants and Fats
“If you are making a tomato sauce and you are using extra virgin olive oil with the tomatoes and cooking them down, that is going to help you activate and absorb lycopene a lot better than if you did not have that fat there at all.”
As a vegan, properly absorbing antioxidants can be tricky so make sure to pair your tomatoes with fats such as olive oil and you should be good.
- Iron and Vitamin C
Many people who follow a plant based diet struggle with iron deficiency but the good news is that plant based iron gets absorbed better when paired with vitamin C sources.