Did you know that you can promote or inhibit good digestion with certain combinations of foods?
Were you aware that the way in which you ingest certain foods can actually waste nutrients and even affect your health in a negative way?
It is true, some commonly combined foods actually cause our bodies to absorb far less nutrients and work much harder than they were meant to in order to complete the digestive process.
And some foods we normally combine do actually promote healthy digestion and the most efficient use of nutrients.
When healthy digestion occurs, nutrients are absorbed, energy and metabolism increases, as does cell repair, and muscle mass.
Different foods require different conditions in in digestive system. Although we are omnivores, in most of our history we did not eat the variety of foods available to us at any one time as we do today.
You may find it difficult to swallow that your favorite food combinations might be wreaking havoc in your digestive process, but it will at least help you to know in order to make better decisions from time to time.
And certainly, if you do not experience issues with your digestion then moderation is probably good enough.
However, many people, even that I know personally, have found combining foods in certain ways to alleviate problems in their digestion.
There has been some debate over this in the past, and so I’ve collected a few research papers (to start with, I have more which I plan on adding) which I’ve posted here.
Some Things Weren’t Meant to be Eaten in Combination
High protein foods, particularly meat, require an acidic environment in the stomach to properly break down the protein for absorption.
Conversely, starches require a slightly alkaline balance in the mouth and small intestine for the best energy production.
When your body attempts to create the proper conditions for digesting these two food groups simultaneously, can you guess what occurs? Right. A neutral pH environment. Neither food is optimally processed.
And at the same time, the body uses a huge amount of energy continuing to try and produce the environment needed for digesting these foods, using up all the enzymes, minerals, and nutrients in the process.
Is it no wonder that we feel tired and bloated after a heavy meal of protein and starches?
Meat alone would normally take about 3 hours to digest before it reaches the small intestine. But when combined with starches, the process of digesting the meat then increases to up to 9 hours.
And worse, the proteins that have begun to break down and decompose, with the starches which have now begun to ferment, cause chemical reactions which are more harmful than good for your system. The microorganisms that result then begin to feed on the nutrients that were meant for you.
This is why you may so often feel tired upon waking in the morning, after your body has worked all night trying to digest your food and you did not benefit from the nutrients it contained.
What Combines Well and What Doesn’t
- Vegetables and low sugar fruits (less than 8% sugar) can be eaten with starches or proteins, and healthy fats and oils.
- Vegetables are particularly good to eat with animal protein, which in itself should be eaten in limited quantity.
- Lemon,lime and tomato (acid fruits) combine well with green and non-starch vegetables
- Lettuce and celery (green vegetables) combine well with all fruits.
- Fats and oils combine well with starches, and do not retard their digestion as do the proteins.
- Nuts, oil-rich seeds, cheese, yogurt, and other fermented dairy foods combine well with acid fruits. However, any excess of fatty or oily foods is extremely hard on the liver.
- Sweet and acid fruits do not combine well with one another.
- Milk should be taken alone, and particularly not with meat. Milk will tend to curdle around other foods and inhibit digestion of those foods. However, fermented dairy products and cheese do not cause this problem.
- Nuts can be combined with any food except for high sugar fruits.
- High sugar fruits should be eaten on their own. These foods digest extremely rapidly, and so when combined with foods that digest more slowly, will sit and rot in your stomach while the other food is digesting (for example, up to 9 hours if combined with meat and starches!). Drinking fruit juice between meals compromises digestion unless two hours past a starch meal and four hours past a protein meal.
Try not to eat while stressed, because your body does not produce the hormones and enzymes it needs for digestion during stress. And do not drink icy liquids while eating. The temperature change also disrupts the digestive enzyme production.
These might seem a bit tough for one to consider adhering to all at once, but if you are aware and at least try limiting combinations that you now know have a disruptive affect on your digestion, you will be able to start making a few changes.
Particularly if you are eating late, or under stress, or feeling run down, give your body a break by allowing it to process the nutrients it needs. You will feel better and be more inclined to be proactive about your choices in the future.
Here is a chart on Recommended Food Combinations that contains a graphical representation along with the bullet list above to help you out — print it and keep it handy in the kitchen!