There are five reasons I’m going to talk about in this blog post about why you might not be getting all the nutrients from your food. There are other reasons, but I think these are the five key ones, and some of the practical ones you can try.
- Chewing fast: The problem with chewing too quickly is it can prevent the stimulation of certain enzymes which help us to break down food. It’s really important just to slow everything down when it comes to eating. Take your time, chew multiple times, enjoy the food, allow yourself to get the flavour from the food before swallowing, and you’ll put yourself in a good position to absorb the nutrients once it gets into the stomach and the intestine.
- Alcohol consumption: This can damage cells in the stomach and block the release of digestive enzymes, so consuming alcohol around food time or during food time is not always the best thing to do. It can have a counterproductive effect on the nutrients in the food. If you are drinking alcohol, try and keep it outside of food time. Although the food can help absorb some of that alcohol, you may pay the price with the nutrients.
- Age: Eat more nutrient-rich foods as you get older because as we age, we tend to be a little bit less efficient drawing out the nutrients from our food. So just be mindful as you perhaps get to 40 and above. It’s even more important to make sure you’re getting really good nutrition, preferably from your food but perhaps also taking a capsule or liquid as a supplement.
- Caffeine: Many of us tend to over-rely on caffeine to get ourselves pepped up for the day and then perhaps struggle to process that when it comes to sleeping, but another side effect of caffeine is it can inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients e.g. calcium and magnesium. Both alcohol and caffeine can prevent the absorption of these very important nutrients, but that’s not an exhaustive list, so just be mindful about the amount of caffeine you’re consuming.
- Stress: Many of us eat when we’re in a stressed state. We eat very quickly, very hurriedly, perhaps at our desks, perhaps while we’re on the move, but stress can really inhibit nutrient absorption. So it’ very important to prepare the body for food, and you can do this by just sitting quietly and taking two or three minutes to breathe before you eat a meal. Prepare the body for the food that’s coming. Relax the body.
When we are para-sympathetic dominant, which is one branch of the autonomic nervous system … it’s also called the rest and digest function … so when we’re relatively unstressed, relaxed and at ease, that’s when it’s optimum for us to eat because we’re going to get the most absorption out of those nutrients. I hope that’s helpful. As ever, if you’ve got questions about this, contact me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help you.
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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.