There is a conundrum when it comes to superfoods – your body can potentially benefit immensely from them; however, if not consumed correctly, you may be flushing them down the toilet as your body lets them pass right through you without absorbing the important nutrients. However, with a little research, you can maximise the nutrition your body can gain with the right pairing or natural processing such as sprouting or fermenting.
A Tough Nut to Crack
Take nuts and grains. All seeds, nuts, grains, even the mighty chia and flax are coated with digestive barriers such as phytic acid and other inhibitors that make it hard for it to digest. Flax, for example, is hard for our bodies to break down so we have been told to mill or pulverise it in the hopes of achieving greater absorption. Unfortunately however, milling a grain does not remove the outside barriers that protect the seed, so these ‘super-flours/powders’ may still negatively affect your digestion. This is because the acids that coat the seed are often the culprit of digestive issues such as indigestion and leaky gut.
When it comes to grains, you can give your body and digestion a leg up by consuming them in their sprouted form. When you soak grains to sprout them, the harsh outer coating of the seed is broken down when the seed germinates, changing the nutrient profile. Sprouting literally produces proteolytic enzymes that assist the body in breaking down the carbohydrates and proteins. It also can double or triple the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and proteins found in the grain or seed while lowering the calories.
Pairing certain the superfoods with the right partners can also be helpful when amplifying the nutrients. For example, matcha has a high antioxidant profile and is great at revving up your metabolism. However, when a matcha latte is made with dairy, you might as well throw that in the bin. The calcium from the dairy prevents the body from absorbing the antioxidants and minerals from the tea. It’s best paired with a non-dairy milk or warm water.
The same goes for Turmeric. Turmeric is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties however, it’s incredibly hard for the body to digest. Pairing it with black pepper or healthy fats makes it more digestible and fermenting it takes it one step above that as it metabolizes the curcumin and 300 other powerful compounds outside of the body allowing for quicker absorption into the blood stream.
Jayta Szpitalak is a Nutritionist, Psychologist and Found of Fermentanicals.