Written by Jayta Szpitalak
We all know that we should be eating a range of fruits and veggies, healthy fats, protein and some super grains. But the question needs to be asked…are your superfoods being absorbed? The fact is that many superfoods are not being absorbed adequately by your body and may even be upsetting your digestive system? There is an interesting conundrum when it comes to superfoods – your body can potentially benefit immensely from them. However, if not consumed correctly, these superfoods and their nutrients will not be absorbed as your body lets them pass right through your digestive system. With a little research, you can maximise the nutrition your body can gain, with natural processing, such as sprouting seeds and fermenting of grains.
Here are a few ideas to help ensure that your superfoods are being absorbed as much as possible.
1. Activate Your Food Wherever Possible.
Consider nuts and grains. All seeds, nuts, grains, even the mighty chia and flax have seed coats that limit digestion in the gut. Flax, for example, is hard for digestive system to break down so we have been told to mill or pulverise it in the hopes of achieving greater absorption. Unfortunately, milling a grain does not completely remove the outside barriers that protect the seed, so these ‘super-flours/powders’ may still not be absorbed completely and not be digested.
2. Try Sprouted Alternatives to Your Favourite Foods.
When it comes to grains, you can improve your digestion by consuming them in their sprouted form. When you soak grains to sprout them, the harsh outer coating of the seed is broken down when the seed germinates, changing the nutrient profile. The sprouting process produces enzymes that assist in breaking down the carbohydrates and proteins. It also can increase the antioxidants, vitamins and proteins found in the grain or seed while often lowering the calories and alkalizing the grain.
Sprouting stimulates the production of enzymes that essentially pre-digest the grain, so it breaks down complex sugar molecules, making it more readily bioavailable. According to a research paper, fermentation of cereals for a limited period of time improves amino acid composition and vitamin content. Sprouted chia seeds for example, contain more vitamins and antioxidants compared with unsprouted seeds. As well, sprouted grains also improve the microflora in our gut.
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3. Combine Cautiously.
Combining certain superfoods with other ingredients can increase but also can decrease the availability of the nutrients.
Matcha is ground Japanese green tea leaves. The leaves are grown and dried in specially designed processes, after which they are ground to create a fine powder. Matcha is used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It has a high antioxidant profile and is great for your metabolism. However, when a ‘matcha latte’ is made with milk, the antioxidants may become bound in the dairy product and thus prevents the body from absorbing the antioxidants and minerals from the tea.
Turmeric is a spice known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties however, it’s incredibly hard for the body to digest. Pairing it with black pepper or healthy fats makes it more digestible. Fermenting it has also shown to be beneficial as the curcumin is metabolized, allowing for quicker absorption into the blood stream.