Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Food Combinations for Great Digestion

Did you ever eat a meal and feel like you had so much gas it was just embarrassing to be around people?  Or maybe your stomach hurts sometimes and you aren't sure why?  Or maybe you know someone who eats Pepto or takes Alka Seltzer like they're candy?

It may be the combinations that food is being eating and drank in that are reeking havoc on your innards!

I very rarely post things I haven't made myself a guinea pig for first, and food combining is no exception.  The first topic here has made a very thankful change for me...


bowl with berries
Fruit should be eaten separately from other foods.  This is because fruit has a natural sugar content that quickly breaks down into the simplest of all sugars, glucose.

All foods are reduced to glucose for the use of energy.  Because fruit is so near in form to glucose it breaks down into glucose much quicker than other types of food.

So what happens if you have a stomach full of let's say an orange and scrambled eggs?  The orange quickly turns to glucose, but is still sitting in with the eggs that have a long way to go in getting digested.  While the digested orange is stuck waiting for the eggs to break down, the orange beings to ferment.

Remember that gassy and bloated feeling?  Yeah that's where that comes in.  I used to have an embarrassing issue with this and couldn't figure out what was happening.  I guessed it was just part of getting older.  But no, as long as fruit is eaten separately it is easily digested, and tummies everywhere are happier!

Proteins and Starches

Steak and potatoes, hamburger on a bun, chicken and rice, etc...
Beef steak with vegetablesWhen protein and starch are eaten together, ptyalin is not effectively produced
in the saliva, and so the starch is not predigested in the mouth. It enters
the stomach and begins to ferment, producing gas. To make matters worse,
protein needs to be digested in an acidic environment and starch in an alkaline
environment. So, when starches and proteins are combined, the acid and
alkaline digestive juices neutralize each other. All this decaying food is held
up in the stomach, causing gas and discomfort. This dietary cycle can eventually lead to premature aging and illness.
When speaking of protein foods, we mainly refer to animal proteins. Some
plant foods, such as beans, contain natural combinations of starches and proteins.
If these foods are eaten alone, the body is able to digest them well by
releasing the proper digestive juices in the appropriate sequence. Even so,
some people do feel discomfort after eating beans. (source below*)

Protein Alone or with Veggies

vegetable salad
Vegetables are high in water content, and so are easy to digest.  The extra enzymes and fiber that vegetables bring allow for easier digestion of the protein with it.  Also fat soluble vitamins in the vegetables benefit from being eaten with the bit of fat in most protein sources.

Starches Alone or With Veggies  

Vegetables don't require their own specific digestive juices, so they can be digested in the same alkaline environment that starches need.  Starches include bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.

Maybe try eating grains with vegetables for lunch, then meat and vegetables for dinner, or something like that.

Don't Drink With Meals

beverageYou know that Coke you like to drink with your hamburger.  Yeah me too, but it is probably reeking havoc on your insides.  The sugary beverage digests quicker than the meal, the cold ice makes for poor digestion of food in with the drink.

Any drink had with a meal is going to water down digestive juices in the stomach and make them less effective.

So What Should We Do?

  • Eat fruit by itself, perhaps as breakfast in a bowl or all fruit smoothie, or as a snack between meals.  Try to wait 1-2 hours after eating fruit before eating other foods.  
  • Eat proteins by themselves or with vegetables.
  • Eat starches by themselves or with vegetables.
  • Don't drink much at all with meals.  If you find yourself needing to drink a lot see if the meal can be made with less sodium.  
  • Drink between meals.  Finish drinking at least half an hour before eating to allow stomach acid to refresh.  
  • Wait 1-2 hours after a meal to drink a lot or to have dessert. 

When food is eaten in combinations that work for your body, then you are healthier and retain more of the nutrients from the food you eat.

I have had great success with separating out fruit and not drinking much with meals.  However, I haven't tried separating out starches and protein too much, but look forward to giving it a try sometime to see what the results are.

Now we all have different bodies, and these are ideals.  Try different combinations and see what is or isn't working for you.  You'll know if it isn't working by the gasiness, bloating, and heart burn.  I believe that if caught in time these combinations can keep a lot of people from developing long term digestion problems.

One final thought.  This isn't a religion, it's an ideal, as I mentioned.  If you are hungry eat.  If you are thirsty drink something.  Then just aim to do what works best for your body most of the time.

Source- *Global College of Natural Medicine Module 1, Section 3 Page 42.

Disclaimer:  None of this is meant to be, or should be taken as, medical advice.  It is not meant to substitute the diagnosis or help of a doctor.  If you have medical issues you should seek medical help.

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