The Mediterranean diet is well-known by many and touted by nutritionists for its health benefits. There are limitless recipes from this diet that can be incorporated into a healthy eating routine. However, our bodies can only absorb somewhere between 10 and 90 percent of the nutrients that we consume. Luckily, with some simple tricks, there are ways we can increase our body’s ability to get the most nourishment out of our meals.
Barring any dietary or medication restrictions, here are some great ways to make the most of the healthy foods we eat!
1. Absorb more nutrients with pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, which can increase food nutrient absorption by up to 25%. By adding black pepper to salads, sauces and cooked meats, the elevated digestion enzymes that result allow the food to travel through the system more quickly, which also reduces constipation.
2. Add more vitamins by the handful. Include a variety of vegetables, fruits and protein for an assortment of vitamins. Try different cooking methods too: when eaten raw, our bodies can absorb more folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin and potassium found in spinach. When spinach is steamed, the body is better able to assimilate its beta-carotene and antioxidant properties.
3. Add more healthy fats. Not all fats are the same. Olive oils and nut oils can actually help lower the bad cholesterol, raise the good cholesterol and allow our bodies to better accept nutrients such as beta-carotene. Avocados, coconut oil and nuts provide excellent unsaturated fats and are versatile in that they can easily be added to smoothies or other dishes.
4. Consume more foods with probiotics. Probiotics can assist digestion by encouraging “good” bacteria to grow in the gut, which we need for proper and consistent breakdown. Raw onions, raw garlic, bananas and artichokes can increase this effect. Other foods that provide “good” bacteria growth include fermented foods and drinks, such as Kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi. These foods will create a better environment for nutrient absorption overall.
5. Boost what’s already good. Some foods can enrich what already exists in a healthy meal. For example, vitamin C has properties that increase the ability to absorb the iron found in a dish. For example, by eating spaghetti Bolognese, we get the most iron out of the beef by introducing the vitamin C found in the tomato sauce.
There is no one-size-fits-all diet or lifestyle. Balance is key in eating well and getting the right amount of exercise. Lean meats, healthy oils, and a rainbow of vegetables and fruits can provide variety and flavor.
Because ninety percent of adults over the age of 60 prefer to remain in place in their current residence, Senior Helpers firmly believes that a balanced lifestyle with a wholesome diet diverse in vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, combined with moderate exercise and personal relaxation techniques, is key to happy and healthy longevity for adults striving to age successfully at home. Keep reading our blog for other ways for delicious recipes and ways to get the most out of your nutritional food.