In the mainstream medical community, it seems the jury is still out on whether food combining actually helps or hinders digestion. Extensive scientific trials have not been done but I have personally experienced success and have witnessed others experience great benefits through effective food combining.
I have witnessed positive effects on digestive upsets, like IBS, gas, bloating or acid reflux. So if you do experience any of these issues it may be worth experimenting with food combining yourself. If it works for you, then you may have found a missing link in your health renewal program.
The underlying theory of food combining is that different food groups take different amounts of time to digest and if you combine foods that are faster to digest with foods that take longer then it can impede in the optimal digestion of your food. The following 5 rules are the general principles and theories that food combining entails.
Rule #1 – Eat Fruit First and Eat Fruit Alone
Fruit is the most rapidly and easily digested food we can eat. It takes around 20 minutes alone for fruit to pass through the stomach and into the small intestine. Food combining theory suggests that some fruits like stone fruits easily ferment if they are ‘held up’ in the digestive tract by starches, proteins and fats. Fermentation causes the gaseous buildup, which is the major cause of discomfort. So the idea is to eat fruit well before you eat any other foods (at least 20 minutes). The exception being leafy green vegetables, which digest well with fruits, hence the green smoothie revolution, which is currently underway. Melons such as watermelon and cantaloupe should always be eaten alone because they are water rich and will digest even faster than other fruits.
Rule #2 – Proteins and Starches Don’t Mix
In actual fact all foods are a combination of the macronutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrate, but food combining theory proposes that foods that are highest in protein content, specifically those of animal products or high protein legumes, should not be mixed with starches. It is proposed that the reason for this is that proteins and starches require different digestive enzymes for digestion; protein requiring an acid base and starches requiring an alkaline base. Concentrated protein like meat, fish, hard cheese and eggs require large amounts of stomach acid and generally take up to 3 hours in the stomach. If you combine fast- releasing, refined carbohydrates or fruits with animal protein there will be fermentation and toxic bi-products will be produced. Instead, both proteins and starches are digested well with non-starchy vegetables, like green vegetables, eggplant, tomatoes etc.
Rule #3 – Leafy Greens go with EVERYTHING!
Fruit, starches, proteins. You name it, it can all be consumed and digested beautifully with leafy green vegetables. By adding liberal quantities of leafy green vegetables to your smoothies, salads, or steamed as side dishes, you’ll be increasing your daily nutrient status significantly while also increasing the digestibility and assimilation of those other foods you’re eating. Also, the increased fibre will help ease constipation and provide nourishment for good bacteria to thrive, as well as providing a supreme source of essential minerals.
Rule #4 Don’t Mix Fat and Fruit (or other sugars)
“Fat, sugar and salt” is the potent and addictive combination that is the secret weapon of the food manufacturing industry. But this combination, according to food combining theory, will also wreak havoc with digestion. Fruit is primarily made up of easily digestible simple sugars in the form of fructose and glucose. Fruit eaten alone does not cause problems. It’s when fats are combined with fruits that problems can start to arise. This follows the same principle from rule number one above, which is that fats slow down digestion of foods and this causes fruits to ferment in the gut. Those concerned about blood sugar levels from eating fruit should know that as long as you are not combining fruit with fat then blood sugar spikes should not occur. Combining fruit with green vegetables, however, will also help protect against blood sugar spikes.
Rule #5 Understand the time it Takes for Certain Foods to Digest
Proteins and fats can take up to 3 hours to digest, starches are generally digested in 1-2 hours, and fruit takes 30 minutes or less. Knowing these digestion times and planning your meals accordingly can really help in alleviating problems of digestion. Experiment with these simple principles for your self and see if you experience an improvement in your digestion.
For more information on alternative health principles check out my website which focuses primarily on a raw food diet.