Unlike drugs, nutrients are 'synergistic' and interconnected with each other. There are some known food combinations that have been scientifically shown to affect absorption of certain nutrients in our human body.
1. Iron and vitamin C
There are two types of iron in food: haem iron which is well absorbed in human body comes from animal sources like red meat, chicken, fish, eggs. Another form non-haem iron which is poorly absorbed in the body comes from plant sources like whole grains, legumes and dark leafy vegetables.
Science behind: There are some nutrient combinations that can help increase this absorption of non-haem iron. Combining non-haem foods with vitamin C sources like lemon, oranges, berries etc. helps change the non-haem iron to a form that is more easily absorbed by our bodies.
2. Vitamins and Fats
There are four Fat soluble vitamins named- A, D, K and E. After the ingestion these vitamins are transported to small intestine via stomach. These require healthy fat in order to be absorbed by the body. Vitamins require fat to be absorbed into the body and helps in providing energy, keeping cells functioning and supporting the immune system.
Science behind: the healthy fats act as ‘vehicles’ to carry these vitamins through the intestine, into the bloods and to the liver, where they’re stored until the body needs them.
3. Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D and calcium both are known to keep our bones and teeth strong and healthy. There are enough research studies available which shows that inadequate calcium and Vit D significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis, low bone mass and high fracture rates. One may maximum calcium absorption by combining food rich in calcium and some Vitamin D fortified cereals and dairy products.
Science behind: Vitamin D helps absorb calcium and support bones.
4. Magnesium and vitamin D
Magnesium and Vitamin D should be taken together in order to avoid vitamin D side effects and to maximize absorption of both nutrients.
Science behind: Magnesium is used up when Vitamin D is converted into its active form in the blood. Magnesium is also required to convert Vitamin D into its active form in the blood.
5. Zinc and Sulphur to boost immunity
Zinc exhibits anti-oxidant properties which promote body immune function. Red meats, lean meats, fish, whole grains, and pumpkin are all excellent sources of zinc. To maximize its absorption, combine zinc sources with foods rich in sulphur compounds like onion, garlic, beans, legumes, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts etc.
Science behind: This super combination helps fight infection, wounds to heal, promotes the healthy development of DNA in the body and boosts the immunity.
(The writer of the article is Corporate Nutritionist, RD, CDE)