The role of quality food oils in nutrient absorption (part 1)
Mary Poppins once said, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.”Move over, Mary. In the world where food is our medicine and medicine is our food, it’s not sugar that we need. It’s… fat.No joke. Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins are water soluble and can be absorbed by the body with a bit of water. But vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble – which means they require a lipid carrier. If you take a multivitamin everyday but don’t take it with a little bit of fat, you may have some very expensive urine because you’re not absorbing everything in that pill.Think you get a break with your minerals? Certain minerals are in a careful and delicate balance with vitamin D in your body, and if you don’t have enough vitamin D (also known as the hormone “calcitrol”), then you can bet you’re not absorbing enough calcium. If you’re not absorbing enough calcium, then levels of phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and other essential minerals (which are used as enzyme co-factors in your body) may also be at lower levels than you need, as they’re in a balance with calcium as well.
Food needs to go through three different basic steps to get into the body.
First you need to actually eat it. Eating the right foods requires conscious effort on your part, and sometimes training on how to do this properly again.
Secondly, your digestive system has to be able to break down the food and package it so it can be absorbed from the intestines into the blood stream.
The third step is where the nutrients in the blood stream can be absorbed into all the cells of the body.
A quality oil increases the bioavailability of the nutrients in your food.
“Bioavailability” is how nutritionists and pharmacologists measure how much of a substance gets truly absorbed into your body. In a 3-part series, I’ll show you how high-quality oils can help (and are in many ways essential) for proper nutrient bioavailability. This piece will introduce you to how olive oil can help with the first step – training you to eat properly again.
There is a reason why you love to drizzle your salad with olive oil – we know that dark leafy greens are rich in lutein, vitamin K and calcium – and not only does oil make your salad taste better, but your body knows that marrying your greens with a great salad dressing (like Ottobratico!) is the best way of getting those nutrients into your body and into your cells where they can do their work best.
If you’re not getting enough fat, you can literally feel yourself starving – psychologically, physically, and nutritionally.
For those of you who are still on the January weight loss bandwagon: a tablespoon of olive oil is half the calories of a danish pastry. Many people who are watching their waistline often try to reach for the less-calorically dense option, but this option is not necessarily better for you in the long run (and also think how quickly you can polish off a pastry! How long are you really taking to enjoy it anyway?).
Olive oil can help you enjoy the taste of your meal, helping you reach a psychological/emotional level of satiety during meals so you’re less likely to crave that pastry later on. High quality oil also activates the lipid receptors in your stomach. This increases your leptin levels to decrease overall appetite both short term and long-term – so you can go longer without feeling that physical tummy-rumble and empty feeling that so many people panic over. Lastly, high-quality oils increase absorption of nutrients so your body can function optimally, and it does not increase your insulin levels so you can regulate your blood sugar levels and stay in “fat-burning mode”. The result? Going for the oil prevents you from starving at the nutritional level, prevents you from feeling hungry at the tummy-rumble level, and prevents the psychological/emotional impression of lack.
In my next article, I’ll explain the second step: how oils can help those nutrients get from the food in your tummy and into your blood stream.
Health and happiness,