Protein, the most commonly discussed macronutrient, is an integral part of each and every cell in your body. It is a multitasker and plays a major role in the growth and repair of your bones, muscles, skin, hair, and other tissues.
It is a part of every cell in your body and no other nutrient is as versatile as protein in keeping you alive and happy. Without it, your body would lack the enzymes and hormones you need for metabolism, digestion, and other important processes.
Your body needs protein for a variety of functions but needs a proper balance and environment for its proper digestion and absorption. To save your protein for its best utilization by the body, you need to focus on a healthy and balanced diet that enhances protein digestion and absorption.
Since protein is so important, you feel that you need too much of it and sometimes you go overboard. Fortunately, you can easily get all the benefits of proteins by combining them well with all other vital nutrients, especially those coming from plant sources. Adding enough protein alone doesn’t help.
Here are a few simple tips to enhance your protein absorption and utilization:
Chew food properly: The healthy process of digestion starts in the mouth even before the food is swallowed. The precious salivary juices start working on the broken food particles in the mouth far before it reaches the stomach; the smaller the bites and the more each and every bite is chewed, the better digestion and absorption of protein happens when it is transported down to the stomach.
A balanced diet: Focusing just on protein is not enough; you need to eat a balanced diet with all the essential nutrients for better digestion, absorption, and utilization of proteins.
Complex carbs: Give special attention to including moderate portions of healthy complex carbs in your meals as it helps the muscles to absorb the amino acids better.
Smartly choose acidic foods: Eating a portion of acidic fruit/ food just an hour after eating a protein meal will support protein digestion and enhance its absorption.
Vitamin B 6: Vitamin B 6-rich foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, etc. play a crucial role in healthy digestion, easier absorption, and assimilation of proteins.
Improve gut health: Maintain a healthy gut microbiome and include plenty of prebiotics like oat, onions, banana, berries, beans, and asparagus and probiotics like fermented foods, yogurt, pickled veggies, etc. Try to eat raw salads 20 minutes before your meals. Avoid eating too much sugar-rich foods, drinks, processed high salt, and high-calorie foods.
A balanced and healthy combination of the right foods in the right amounts eaten with a positive mindset and relaxed environment will certainly enhance your protein absorption and utilization.
The writer is a nutritionist and freelance consultant in Oman