Bioavailability! Ok, so it probably doesn't sound that fascinating but here is the thing, even among the health gurus out there, health club nutritionist and so on, this is one of the subjects that almost never gets talked about. People just stand around talking about all the carotenoids in fresh vegetables, the potassium in broccoli, or the vitamin C in orange juice without talking about whether or not your body will absorb it when you eat it.
Think of this like a perfect pastry. You can't just take the ingredients of a pastry, put them all into a blender, let it go for two minutes, stick it in the oven for another ten minutes and have a pastry. To make a great pastry, you have to lovingly make the filling, and then carefully make the dough. And if all of that goes well, you then combine the two in proper proportions, bake them and garnish them with the icing you also lovingly made. Only at the end of all that, will you have that perfect éclair like the one you had in Paris.
That is what bioavailability is to your body. Any idiot can look up a bunch of nutrients, find those in some store bought supplements, and take them with a glass of water. But that doesn't make that amazing pastry we spoke of earlier. Even finding all the raw foods with the target nutrients, putting them in a bowl, and eating them straight up won't get you where your body wants you to go. For those of you still on the fence about what I am talking about, read the following hypothetical story.
Your doctor just diagnosed you as anemic (iron deficient). You go ask your neighbor, who is a huge health nut, what you should eat. She informs you that you should double down on leafy green veggies, and if you must eat some meat with your salads then you should try some delicious marinated tofu or chicken breast. For your beverage, she tells you to try to stick to water and to avoid soda at all cost. So you follow her advice to the letter. You eat the salads and even some kale chips. And if your salads had no chicken or tofu, you drank skim milk to keep your protein intake at a minimal level; otherwise, you drank only water. At the end of three weeks, you go back to your doctor brimming with confidence... only to have him tell you that you are still anemic and it's getting worse. So, what happened?
When she told you that leafy green vegetables are a great source of iron, she wasn't wrong. Unfortunately, leafy green vegetables are a terrible source of iron for us humans. The problem is with non-heme iron. That is the form of iron we don't absorb. Don't get me wrong, salads are very good for you and you should continue to eat them, but not to get your iron. Secondly, she didn't tell you to avoid the one drink you should have-milk. Calcium is an inhibitor for iron absorption. The calcium in dairy products is the most bioavailable calcium source out there, which also makes it the best inhibiting agent of iron you can find. The one thing she implied is that you should avoid red meat which is probably the best source of heme iron. And thus, is the most efficient cure to anemia there is.
So what can you expect from this blog? Simple, I am going to be talking about many of the fad diets, crazy supplements and various super foods, but all from the standpoint of their bioavailability and some possible implications to what the claims of that food or diet program are. Also, I am going to be dropping some good rules of thumb to maximize the bioavailability of all foods.