If you’re like me, eating a little of everything at a holiday buffet can lead to digestive distress and an upset stomach. Sometimes this is caused by the sheer quantity of food consumed, however other times it’s the after effects of combining foods that don’t digest well together, a topic that most people know very little about. Regardless of whether or not you are one of the lucky ones with a stomach of steel, knowing a bit about proper food combining can result in better digestion, increased nutrient absorption and enhanced vitality. This not only helps you prevent intestinal gas and abdominal pain, but also helps curve your appetite and even lose weight, the result of a nutritionally satisfied body and a more efficient metabolism.
The main issue with improper food combining is that eating foods that are not compatible can cause fermentation in the stomach and digestive tract, one result of delayed digestion. This can have many negative effects. For one, it can create an environment that produces more toxins that can potentially enter the bloodstream. Additionally, it can weaken the digestive tract, an outcome that can be especially harmful for those with Candida.
The number one thing to keep in mind when combining foods is that simplicity is best. Growing up on the American diet, we were often taught that every meal should be well balanced in itself. However, digestively speaking, it can be better to focus on a balanced meal plan for the day, covering different food groups in each of your 3+ meals as opposed to eating them all together in one meal.
With that said, there are two key things to keep in mind. The first is the order in which you eat certain food groups at a meal, remembering that a meal consisting of just a few different types of food is better for your digestion then one that covers them all. The second relates to the actual combining so that you have a basic knowledge of which foods work best together and which do not.
Each type of food requires unique digestive enzymes as well as different levels of stomach acids to digest properly. Therefore, it’s best to eat high protein foods first such as animal products, beans, nuts and seeds. If your meal also contains starches such as grains, bread or potatoes; eat those next followed by raw vegetables such as a salad, which requires the least amount of digestive power.
Ideally, you want to choose either a protein or a starch meal and combine it with green and non-starchy vegetables or sea vegetables for optimal digestion. Although some people can tolerate a “beans and rice” type meal, if eaten together it’s best that the rice or grain dish be the heavier portion of the combination. It’s also best to choose one type of protein when eating a protein meal and one type of starch when eating a starch meal to maximize digestibility.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that fruits and sweet foods should be eaten alone as a snack or small meal. As these types of foods when eaten alone digest quickly, in about 30 minutes or so, combining them with other foods delays their digestion as well as the digestion of the other foods eaten, resulting in fermentation. If you like to eat a fruit or sugar based desert following your meal, it’s best to wait 2-3 hours after your meal to do so. Additionally, dairy, which I have not mentioned yet, combines best with raw vegetables, nuts and seeds, and acidic fruits.
In summary, the two most important things to remember are to try to eat protein dishes separately from starch dishes and to consume fruits and sweetened foods alone. These two steps alone will improve your body’s digestive system substantially and make eating a more pleasurable experience for both you and your body.
The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
Published On: December 17, 2009