Following yesterday’s puff piece, I promised more heady stuff this week, so let’s start with a short post on bioavailibility of foods by my colleague, Denis Faye. He’s been busy in academia, but the Nutrition Nerd is now back with an, albeit, fairly academic piece. However, the gist of it has a lot more to do with rationale and common sense. You hear a lot about foods losing their ability to be used by your body for various reasons, some so nit-picky it would seem that nothing we eat will ever get into our system anymore. Denis tackles this, evaluating the science, and coming to this conclusion.
So, I’m happy to explain to you how bioavailability works and even give you a few pointers, but given the vast amount of interactions, it’s almost impossible to get everything right, every time. And the negative interactions are rarely an issue in the Western world. For example, some people get down on physic acid in legumes, claiming they block the absorption of mineral, which they do. However, it’s only ever been shown to be an issue in severe malnutrition circumstances, like people starving in the middle of Africa. You’re just not going to miss out on calcium or iron because you ate an extra serving of three-bean salad last night. Furthermore, you’re going to profit from all the other micronutrients, amino acids, and fiber that legumes tend to provide.
So instead of fretting over the minor points of interacting nutrients, your best bet is to take a shotgun approach. Eat a wide range of foods that contain those nutrients–and all other nutrients. You shouldn’t need to add extra vitamin C to help with iron and vitamin D to help with calcium because you should be consuming plenty of both already anyway.
This trick applies even if you have specific dietary standards. If you’re vegan, you avoid dairy and fish. If you’re Paleo, you avoid dairy and legumes. That’s fine. Just make sure to have plenty of all the other calcium and iron-rich foods available to you.
Since this is weight loss month, the big takeaway in that arena is another cautionary note about “starvation mode”, which you’ve already been warned about. But it’s also nice to know that eating the right foods will help. I often think the bioavailability naysayers are just making up excuses to say, “fuck it, Dude. Let’s go bowling.”
Next, we delve into the weird world of cutting diets.