Savor the Flavor of Eating Right: 3 Little-Known Tips for Maximizing Healthy Eating

Whether you’re young or old, good nutrition is essential to maintaining strong focus and energy to face the demands of daily life. When we neglect our nutrition, it's common to feel run down and experience brain fog. You want to ensure you are getting as many nutrients from your food as possible.

Truth is, many factors can contribute to how much goodness you are getting from your food. Information about what we should be eating abounds, and the educated consumer knows that maximizing fresh, whole foods and minimizing processed foods will get us on the pathway to becoming our healthiest selves.

Yet our knowledge of nutrition is constantly growing, and as we gain greater insights into the complex systems and functions that make up the human body, this new information can help us make the most of our healthy eating plan.

To jump start the year of your healthiest self and in honor of National Nutrition Month, here are three little-known tips to help you get the most nutrients from each bite.

#1 Maximize nutrient absorption through symbiosis. That's a fancy way of saying eat certain foods together, and you'll get more bang for your nutritional buck! According to WebMD, some foods, when eaten together can up the amount of goodness you get. Some examples of winning combinations include:

  • Salmon and turmeric – boosts the properties of omega 3 fatty acids
  • Whole grains and onions – boosts the absorption of iron and zinc
  • Beans and greens – allows better absorption of iron and may aid in weight loss
  • Tomatoes and olive oil – improves absorption of lycopene, and may also help fight hypertension and improve liver function
  • Broccoli and mustard – improves absorption of compounds with anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties. Also shown to combat bacterial infections

#2 Add prebiotics and probiotics to support your body's digestion. From Harvard to Wayne State University, there's a lot of emerging science about probiotics these days, and maybe you've mindfully incorporated them into your diet by upping your low-fat yogurt intake, or adding things like miso, sourdough bread, kombucha, kefir, fermented foods and sauerkraut to your meals. Probiotics introduce beneficial bugs to your system that support your body's digestion and immune system, even your mental health. But did you know it's important to feed those little bugs? That food, known as prebiotics, has been shown to increase mineral absorption, especially calcium and magnesium. Commonly-found foods that rank among the top prebiotics include: dandelion greens, garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, wheat flour and bananas.

#3 Chew, chew, chew! We are so rushed in our busy lives, we often don't have time to eat at all. But even if you're noshing at your desk while working on an important project, take a minute to be mindful of your chewing. The average person chews a bite only six times. By chewing your food well, you'll release more nutrients so your body can absorb them. It's an easy way to up your nutrition game. How much should you chew? Researchers at Ohio State University say you should chew each mouthful at least 30 times, although softer foods like mashed potatoes can be chewed as little as five to 10 times.

Research shows we will eat an average of 35 tons of food in our lifetime, or 1,500 pounds of food per year. Make it count by embracing these three easy tips.

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For more information, visit www.nationalnutritionmonth.org.