How Food Combining Can Affect Your Health
Ever wonder why some meals make you feel bloated, gassy or just plain terrible afterwards? Well, the theory of food combining could be influencing your digestion. (As you might have picked up on, many of the topics I write about are not actually brand spankin’ new topics, rather they stem from various cultures’ ancient traditions. Food combining is no different and is a theory that has been around for years.)
Depending on what you are eating, (protein, carb or fat) dictates where the digestion, both mechanical (chewing) and chemical, takes place. The type of food the body will be digesting also determines the environment needed (acidic, alkaline), the time it will take to be digested and the necessary enzymes for the digestion.
When food is not fully digested, it begins to ferment causing gas and toxins to be produced. Food that isn’t digested properly also provides excellent conditions for BAD bacteria to feed multiply.
Bad bacteria leads to poor gut health, and poor gut health is associated with almost all health issues, but particularly:
- Poor energy
- Hormone problems
- Depression & mental health (including autism)
- Headaches & migraines
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic infections, colds & flus
- Hormone problems – and the list goes on!
Here are some common food combinations that can* cause issues:
*see caveats below afterwards
Starch + Protein
This recommendation is based on the alkalinity and acidic environments needed to digest each. Starch is digested primarily in the mouth (mechanically) and in the small intestine. Little carbohydrate digestion actually occurs in the stomach. Protein, however, is primarily digested in the stomach, so the thought is that the carbohydrate will sit in the stomach too long and could ferment while the protein is digested.
Recommendation: Consume proteins + non-starchy vegetables together
Fruit + A Meal
Fruit, especially melon, should either be eaten on its own, or as the first item in a meal, because it is very fast to be digested. If it’s eaten last, or with other foods that are slower to digest, it can stay in the stomach longer than it should, and lead to fermenting in the stomach, and providing perfect food for the bad bacteria in the gut.
Dairy + Acidic Foods (Tomatoes, Lemons, Sour Fruits)
The thought behind this one is that the acidic foods destroy the starch splitting enzymes necessary to digest dairy. Another one is that 60% of the population just don’t have the ability to digest lactose once they grow out of breast feeding age.
There are a few caveats to food combining.
Food combining will likely only make a difference if you already have digestive problems. If your digestion is perfectamundo, and if you are mindful of what you eat, it likely won’t make a huge difference.
For those of you who are smoothie lovers, you might be worried that you have to give up your smoothie? There are a few points to this one. Firstly, a smoothie has blended all of the ingredients, so it is easier on your digestion. Secondly, work towards having less starchy fruits in your smoothie like berries vs a banana or a tropical fruit. Lastly, if smoothies do bother your digestion, it could be worth taking a break and actually more closely following the food combining principles and see if you notice an improvement
If you have any blood sugar problems (hypoglycemia, diabetes) or just in general notice significant fluctuations in your energy, consuming fruits or starches on their own without a fat or protein goes against basic blood sugar regulating. I personally would advise that you deal with blood sugar first, and then fix the food combining.
Now it’s your turn! What experience (good or bad) have you had with food combining?