Proper food combination facilitates easy and efficient digestion and ensures after-meal comfort. Digestion is not merely chemical or physical process, but also a physiological one. When food enters the body, it undergoes several changes before it is broken down into its constituent parts and assimilated. The chemical part of digestion is accomplished by a series of juices and their enzymes. The juices alternate between alkalis and acids, and their character is determined by the requirement of the enzymes they contain. These enzymes remain active in suitable media of well defined acid-alkaline ranges and are destroyed in unsuitable media. For instance, the salivary amylase (ptyalin) or starch-splitting enzyme of the mouth is active only in an alkaline media and is destroyed by a mild acid. The gastric enzyme, pepsin, which initiates protein digestion, is active only in the acid medium and is destroyed by alkalis. The body suits its fluid and enzymes to the character of the food eaten. It is possible to suit the juices to a particular food, however, complex it may be, but not to a variety of foods taken together. It is the combining of many varieties and incompatible foods at a meal that causes most of digestive disorders and gastro-intestinal fermentation. There is no fermentation and digestion will be much more satisfactory when the foods comprising a meal are of the same or compatible type.
The most important rule for combining foods is to avoid mixing protein and carbohydrate concentration foods. Although every food contains some protein, those regarded as protein concentrated foods demand the longest digestive time. They are held in the stomach for some hours until the gastric juices have performed its task. This may vary from two-and-a-half to six hours, depending upon the complexity of the protein in the food. If a protein food is mixed with starch-concentrated or sugar-concentrated foods, it will usually result in fermentation. This may lead to indigestion and gas in the stomach. Animal-food proteins, such as meats, fish and cheese, require very high concentration of hydrochloric acid. Their gastric digestion will be greatly inhibited by carbohydrate fermentation in the stomach. This will produce more gas and increased discomfort. Protein foods are best digested when eaten with fresh vegetable salad. Primary protein foods such as nuts, seeds and soya beans also combine very well with acid fruits like oranges, pineapples, grapefruit and lemons, and fairly well with sub-acid fruits, like grapes, pears, apples, berries, apricots and peaches. These vegetables and fruits are rich natural sources of vitamin C which aids protein digestion.
The second important rule for food combining is to avoid mixing proteins and fats at the same meal. Fat in foods inhibits the secretion of gastric juice through the small wall. Thus when fat-concentrated foods are taken with protein foods, gastric catabolism will decrease by the degree of liquid concentration in the stomach. Fat will remain undigested in the stomach until gastric juices complete their work on the complex protein molecule. Although all primary protein foods contain high concentration of fat, such lipids will be held in suspension, awaiting catabolism in the intestine, without impeding gastric action. Free fats like oil, butter, and milk tend to coat the gastric mucosa, thereby inhibiting its effort to secrete gastric juice. Fat surrounding fried foods is also regarded as free fat and it interferes with gastric Secrets of Food Combining catabolism.
Another important rule for food combining is to avoid mixing carbohydrates and acid fruits in the same meal. The starch-splitting enzyme ptyalin in the saliva plays an important role as the food is chewed. It converts the complex starch molecules into simpler sugars. Ptyalin requires a neutral or slightly alkaline medium for proper functioning and this is the normal condition of the saliva in the mouth. However, when acid foods are taken, the action of ptyalin is halted. It is, therefore, necessary to avoid acid fruits in the same meal as sweet fruits or starches. Refined sugar products are also acidic, both in the mouth and in the bloodstream.
We represent diagrammatically the food combining rules in an easy-to-follow chart below, followed by a list of foods in their group classification.
Food Combining Diagrammatical Chart
|Food Groups||Proteins||Fats||Starches||Vegetables||Sweet Fruits||Sub-acid Fruits||Acid Fruits|
Food Groups Classification.
|Food Groups||Types of Vegetarian food|
Nuts, Seeds, Soya beans, Cheese, Eggs, yogurt
Oils, Olive, Butter, Cheese, Margarine.
Whole cereals, Peas, Beans, Lentils, potatoes, Tubers
Leafy green, Sprouted seeds, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Green peas, Celery, Tomatoes, Onions.
Bananas, Fits, Custard apples, all-dried fruits, Dates, cherries
Grapes, Pears, Apples, Peaches, Apricots, Plums, Guavas, Raspberries
Grapes, Lemons, Oranges, Limes, Pineapple, Strawberries
In brief starches, fats, green vegetables and sugars may be eaten together as they require either an alkaline or neutral medium for their digestion. Similarly, proteins, green vegetables and acid fruits may be eaten together as they require an acid or neutral medium for their digestion. But starches and proteins, fats and proteins and starches and acid fruits should not be eaten together as a general rule, if the best results are required from the ingestion of the food eaten. Simple meals in every way are more conducive to health, than more elaborate ones, no matter how well they may be combined.
Conclusion is that a meal consisting of proteins, carbohydrates and fats may remain in the stomach for six to seven hours before the stomach is emptied. If carbohydrates are eaten without proteins, they remain in the stomach for a relatively short period. A fruit meal remains in the stomach for even shorter time. It is advisable to eat these different foods at different meals - a fruit meal, a starch meal and a protein meal. The ideal practice is a fruit meal for breakfast, a starch meal with salad and non- starchy vegetables for lunch, and a protein meal with a salad and non-starchy vegetables for dinner.