As I said before, digestive enzymes are my favourite supplement because without digestive enzymes we can’t get all the nutrients we need from our food. Although taking them in supplement form can very beneficial (especially if you suffer from indigestion), there are other ways to get the most from your food.
1. Vitamin A/beta carotene and Iron – A study carried out in Venezuela found that by adding either vitamin A or beta carotene to cereals-based diets, iron absorption increased by between 0.8 and 3 times. Some foods that contain vitamin A: Sweet Potato, Carrots and Spinach
2. Take vitamin C to absorb Chromium, Zinc and Iron – By simply drinking a glass of orange juice with a meal you will increase the absorption of Chromium, Zinc and Iron. Other foods that contain Vitamin C: Red and Green Peppers, Tomatoes and Broccoli.
3. Ginger – ginger has been used in China and India for around 5000 years as a “cure-all”. Just one of the reasons to include ginger in your diet is that it can help digestive movement through the stomach and stimulates digestive enzymes. Either use it in cooking, such as stir fries or curries, or drink it as a Tea.
4. Mint – Ever wonder why mint and lamb is such a popular combination? Well, it’s because mint aids digestion by stimulating the flow of bile to the stomach as well as calming the muscles of the digestive system. Perhaps it’s also the reason so many restaurants give out mints at the end of a meal?
5. Lycopene and Tomatoes – A tomato has been genetically modified to have 3 times as much lycopene as normal tomatoes. This may sound great but is there really any point? If you want to make sure that you have plenty of lycopene in your diet, simply grill or fry your tomato lightly. The heat naturally increases lycopene levels. Processed foods containing tomatoes such as ketchup and baked beans are also ideal.
6. Brown Rice – it was discovered over 100 years ago that some Javanese prisoners were suffering from beriberi whilst others weren’t. It was found that those who ate white rice had the disease but those who ate brown rice were fine. Some years later it was found that the reason for this is because thiamine/vitamin B1 is found in the outside of the grain (ie the brown bit).
I was brought up eating brown rice so I enjoy it but many people prefer white. If this is the case you can buy Rice Bran and add it to a milkshake/protein shake. It’s also a gentler way to get fibre in your diet compared to the likes of Psyllium which is quiet harsh on the stomach.
7. Never chew gum on an empty stomach – a lot of people like to chew gum because they think it’ll help them lose weight because they aren’t eating. The problem is that the act of chewing tells our body to produce digestive enzymes. Obviously when we chew gum nothing actually goes into our stomach which means our bodies are producing enzymes that it doesn’t need to.
As I explained in a previous blog post about digestive enzymes, we don’t have an unlimited supply of them. So by chewing gum on an empty stomach can cause problems later on with indigestion and malabsoption of nutrients as well as irritating the lining of your stomach.
8. Avoid drinking tea with your meal – although tea has many health benefits, it seems that we shouldn’t drink it with our meals. This is because tea generally contains caffeine and can interfere with iron absorption. This is particularly bad for women who tend to have lower levels of iron. Avoid drinking tea for an hour either side of a meal.
9. Some other foods that aid digestion – pineapple (contains Bromelain), papaya (contains Papain), figs, licorice and bean sprouts.