As winter germs threaten our good health, boost your chances of staying healthy with a variety of fresh produce and teaming up certain nutrients that work best in pairs.
As the winter chills seeps into town, so does a swarm of colds and flu strains. One of the best ways we can protect ourselves is by eating a healthy diet high in a broad range of vitamins and minerals. Before you raid the vitamin C jar in the medicine cabinet, did you know many nutrients need a partner-in-crime to be properly absorbed by the body?
Vitamin C is the perfect example of a good teammate, due to its ability to boost the absorption of iron. For those of us lacking in iron, red meat is well-known as a great source (it also provides a healthy dose of zinc and vitamin B-12) but adding a tomato-based sauce to your meal will provide the body with the means to properly absorb the big hit of iron.
According to dietitian Julie Meek, another important combination is calcium and Vitamin D. “It’s estimated one third of the Australian population is Vitamin D deficient, which is pretty huge,” Julie says. “I think it’s partly due to the sun cream message working so well, which we can’t criticise of course, but without vitamin D we greatly reduce our calcium absorption as the two need to go together.”
So while we can focus on upping our dairy intake for a bone-strengthening calcium boost (many milks have the added bonus of being fortified with vitamin D), spending a short stint in the sunlight each day provides one of the best vitamin D hits and allows your calcium-intake to be properly utilised.
Other interesting allies include sodium and potassium, zinc and copper, turmeric and pepper (hence why your turmeric latte is always spicy), vitamin B-12 and folate (especially important in pregnancy), and antioxidants and healthy fats.
Julie recommends eating a minimum of 20 different foods each day to enhance your nutrient profile and get these pairs working together.