Best Food Combinations for Digestion and Absorption of Nutrients (2022)

Micronutrients are an unsung hero in wellness. They are essential for every cell in our bodies and influence our mental health, energy levels, skin appearance, weight distribution, digestive system, and more. Nutrient absorption primarily occurs in the small intestines and is completed in the large intestine. Therefore, optimizing your gut bacteria with nourishing foods will aid the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Want to make this process easier? Try these gut-friendly food combinations!

Nutrient-Boosting Food Combos

Want food pairings that go together like peanut butter and jelly...but healthier? Give your digestive tract a break and your energy levels a boost. Maximize your meals with some of the best food combinations for nutrient absorption.

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Fiber and Protein

Fiber is something that most people in the US need a lot more of. According to a 2017 study from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, only about 5% of people consume enough fiber 1. This statistic is unfortunate because fiber acts as prebiotics for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is rich in high carbohydrates, processed sugar, and saturated fats. On average, people choose fatty cuts of meat for protein sources. They are more filling and, at times, can be tastier. Without moderation, they can also be harmful to gut health.

Diets rich in saturated fatty acids can slow down the digestive process. That's why going hard on Taco Tuesday can cause some gas!

If you choose lean protein like salmon, poultry, or plants then issues like feeling bloated, gassy, or constipated are rarely an issue…especially if you have healthy levels of beneficial bacteria. You can find out for sure by getting your gut tested with Ombre.

Lean protein sources are also rich in essential amino acids that support neuroplasticity, weight management, digestive health, and more.

We get it. A burger is nice once in a while. Make sure to incorporate some greens in the bun...and on the side. Try swapping out a fatty beef patty for protein and fiber-rich quinoa or lentil patty.

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Consuming fiber helps eliminate bloating. Not to mention, fiber also fills you up. If you eat your lean protein with fiber, you will consume less.

Start your day off right with a glass of water and Ombre Rise Prebiotic Powder. Just one scoop is scientifically proven to feed and nourish good bacteria. Treat these gut bacteria well! They help break down our protein sources.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Approximately 65% of people have a Vitamin D deficiency 2. That statistic makes sense as we spend the peak sunlight hours inside our offices. However, it’s also scary because we need Vitamin D for so many essential functions.

Research shows that Vitamin D and calcium are both essential for the body to absorb the other nutrient. A study following up on the original hypothesis further confirmed that Vitamin D assists with calcium absorption in the small intestines.

Most notably, Vitamin D transported calcium to the third section of the small intestines, the ileum, where it absorbed 70% to 80% of the essential nutrient 3.

Seeing as we don’t go outside as much as we should, we need to go the extra mile in preserving our calcium levels. That way the calcium can aid our body in whatever Vitamin D we are able to sneak in.

Try these meals out:

  • Herring and sardines with grass-fed buttered steamed collard greens
  • Fortified tofu and pasture-raised egg scramble
  • Shiitake mushroom Buddha bowl with dark leafy greens

Vitamin D is also a fat-soluble vitamin. Keep that in mind as we discuss these types of vitamins even further!

Vitamins A, E, and Fat

Fat gets a bad rap. In fact, many micronutrients are fat-soluble vitamins. That means we need fat to absorb these key nutrients.

Boost the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins by pairing fruits, veggies, and whole grains with healthy fat sources:

  • Whip up a vibrant salad with extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing
  • Spread dark chocolate and peanut butter on a sprouted grain bagel
  • Serve wild-caught fish with sweet potatoes, beets, or sautéed spinach
  • Add homemade guacamole with peppers on lime chicken tacos with freshly grated cheese
  • Craft a yogurt bowl with berries, almonds, and chia seeds

Phytic Acid and Distilled Water

Phytic Acid is most commonly found in nuts, seeds, beans, and grains. Like lectins, phytic acids are known as antinutrients. In high amounts, phytic acids can prevent the absorption of iron and zinc from these foods.

The best way to reduce the amount of phytic acid in these foods is through:

  • Milling - Breaks down outer shell of grain
  • Fermenting - Brine leeches antinutrients AND becomes probiotic
  • Soaking - Soak grains for 30 minutes before using

Soaking legumes is why tofu is okay for a gut health diet but soy milk might not be. The tofu block no longer has a high level of antinutrients. Instead, the water it’s packed with does. Whereas, soy milk is the water the antinutrients were soaking in.

Vitamin B12 and Folate

Vitamin B12 and Folate (Vitamin B9) are like friends when it comes to nutrition. Both vitamins are essential in creating purines and pyrimidines 4. These are critical in the formation of DNA.

Both of these nutrients are found in animal products, but despite this, many people, including vegans, are low in B12.

Try these Vitamin B12 and folate-rich pairings:

  • Yogurt bowl with spirulina, fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds
  • Lean cut of beef with a side of liver/kidneys, and farro salad
  • Egg omelette with black beans and fermented salsa and fresh fruit juice with Ombre Rise

A good way to get both of these nutrients is by consuming a typical multivitamin. Folate is easily found in just about any food that has protein in it as well. Being low in B12 can lead to severe nerve damage, so making sure that you get enough is vital to your health.

Finding Food Combos That Work For Your Gut Health Diet

So, the most important thing in any diet or lifestyle is finding foods that you are willing and able to eat. If you feel as if you are forcing yourself to eat something simply for the nutrients, you are not likely to stick to that way of eating for long.

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With Ombre, we can help you find foods you enjoy that are in line with your gut. Since we know the bacteria in your gut due to microbiome testing, we know which foods will drive the harmful bacteria out.

Resources

[1]http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124841/

[2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28028727

[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3405161/#R54

[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257642/

Resources

  • 1 “WHO and FAO Announce Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 12 Nov. 2014, www.who.int/nutrition/topics/WHO_FAO_ICN2_videos_hiddenhunger/en/.
  • 2 Fitzpatrick, T. B., Basset, G. J., Borel, P., Carrari, F., DellaPenna, D., Fraser, P. D., … Fernie, A. R. (2012). Vitamin deficiencies in humans: can plant science help?. The Plant cell, 24(2), 395–414. doi:10.1105/tpc.111.093120.
  • 3 Calton J. B. (2010). Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7, 24. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-24.
  • 4 Hibberd, M. C., Wu, M., Rodionov, D. A., Li, X., Cheng, J., Griffin, N. W., … Gordon, J. I. (2017). The effects of micronutrient deficiencies on bacterial species from the human gut microbiota. Science translational medicine, 9(390), eaal4069. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aal4069.
  • 5 Bamba, T, et al. “The Pathogenic Role of Bacteroides Vulgatus in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis.” Journal of Gastroenterology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 1995, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8563888.
  • 6 Quagliani, D. (2017, February 1). Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124841/.
  • 7 Faulkner J.A., Larkin L.M., Claflin D.R., Brooks S.V. Age-related changes in the structure and function of skeletal muscles. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2007;34:1091–1096. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2007.04752.x.
  • 8 Carrillo-Vega, María Fernanda, et al. “Vitamin D Deficiency in Older Adults and Its Associated Factors: a Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Mexican Health and Aging Study.” Archives of Osteoporosis, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28028727.
  • 9 Wasserman RH. Vitamin D and intestinal absorption of calcium: a view and overview. In: P JW, Feldman D, Glorieux F, editors. Vitamin D. Acedemin press; San Diego, CA: 2005. pp. 411–428.
  • 10 Batra, Sukhsatej. “The Bioavailability of Calcium From Spinach.” Healthy Eating | SF Gate, 2 Dec. 2018, healthyeating.sfgate.com/bioavailability-calcium-spinach-1796.html.
  • 11 Nutrition, D. (n.d.). Calcium and Bioavailability | Dairy Nutrition. Retrieved from dairynutrition.ca/nutrients-in-milk-products/calcium/calcium-and-bioavailability.
  • 12 Gupta, R. K., Gangoliya, S. S., & Singh, N. K. (2013). Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of food science and technology, 52(2), 676–684. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y.
  • 13 Suma PF, Urooj A. Nutrients, antinutrients and bioaccessible mineral content (invitro) of pearl millet as influenced by milling. J Food Sci Tech. 2011.
  • 14 Lynch, S R, and J D Cook. “Interaction of Vitamin C and Iron.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1980, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6940487.
  • 15 G, Mario, et al. “Carotenoid Bioavailability Is Higher from Salads Ingested with Full-Fat than with Fat-Reduced Salad Dressings as Measured with Electrochemical Detection.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Aug. 2004, academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/80/2/396/4690323.
  • 16 O’Leary, F., & Samman, S. (2010). Vitamin B12 in health and disease. Nutrients, 2(3), 299–316. doi:10.3390/nu2030299.

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