Proper food combining — – key to optimal nutrition

Health Jul 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Health-Proper-combining-of-foodBy Kalayaan Garcia de Vera
Ask Your Holistic Nutritionist

Digestion is the beginning and the end of health and sickness alike.  How well we are able to digest food will predetermine how well we are able to absorb and assimilate the nutrients that our body requires to function.

I tell my clients to think of their body as a machine with each part attached to one another and each requiring a specific fuel to function.  If one part isn’t able to get the fuel it needs then it cannot function properly, and now the other parts will suffer because they are attached to a non-functioning part.

The human body is very similar in that each part of our body affect s the other.  When we are not able to properly digest and breakdown our food then our body parts will suffer.  This is how an imbalance occurs. When one organ isn’t functioning properly the other organs will try to compensate and become overworked and exhausted which will cause further imbalances in the body.

By optimizing digestion the body will be able to absorb and utilize the nutrients from the food we eat and the better our body will work like a well oiled machine.  One simple way to improve digestion is by following the principles of “Proper food combining.”

‘Proper Food combining’ refers to the combination of foods which are compatible with each other in terms of digestive chemistry. Food combining is a basic component of optimal nutrition because it allows the body to properly break down the food for the nutrients to be available for our body to use.

The discomforts of indigestion are so common in today’s society that it is almost considered normal. The fact that over two billion dollars are spent each year on antacids is proof of this. Rather than using drugs to suppress symptoms, wouldn’t it be wiser to deal with the root cause of indigestion?

Correct food combinations are important for proper digestion, utilization, and assimilation of the nutrients in our diet. The principles of food combining are dictated by digestive chemistry. Different foods require different digestive enzymes to aid in the digestive process – some acid, some alkaline. When acids and alkalines come in contact, they neutralize each other and this slows down digestion.

Protein foods require a highly acidic environment for digestion while carbohydrates (starches, fruit and sugars) and fats require a more alkaline medium. When two or more foods are eaten at the same time, and those foods require opposite conditions for digestion, the digestive process is compromised.

When starches and proteins are combined their stimulation to the digestive juices generates a conflicting response and produces a medium which does not digest either food very well. This situation often leads to indigestion, bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, and poor absorption of nutrients. Any quick digesting foods – such as fruit – must wait until the slowest digesting foods leave the stomach before they can leave – a process which can take up to 6 or 8 hours.

While waiting, the fruit and some of the starches start to decompose and ferment, producing gas, acid and bloating with indigestion.

Simply change the order in which you eat your food and it will help in improving your digestion.

Here are basic but important guidelines:

1. Chew your food well don’t rush; relax and enjoy each sensation in every bite.

2. Don’t eat concentrated protein with starchy carbohydrates as this will ferment and cause indigestion, bloating and gas.

3. Eat meat last as it takes the longest to digest. This way no food is waiting to be digested after the meat and therefore no fermentation will occur.

4. Don’t drink cold drinks with meals as this will dilute digestive enzymes and slow down the digestive process.

5. Eat fruit alone, either 30 minutes prior to a meal or two hours after.  The enzymes from the fruit like pineapples and papaya will aid with digestion.

6. Don’t eat dessert immediately after a meal, it will just sit in your system undigested and leave you feeling bloated.

If this seems confusing just picture what your dinner plate looks like. Identify the high starch carbohydrate food which would normally be the rice, pasta and any vegetable that grows under- ground.  Your non-starchy carbohydrates are your green leafy vegetables, salads. The high protein would be your meat and fruits are a given.

Now all you have to do is ask yourself what takes the longest to digest, which is the meat, and eat that with the green leafy salad last.  If you suffer from indigestion then fruits should never be mixed with other foods. They should always be eaten alone prior to or hours after your meal.

Eat your starchy carbohydrates first to prevent any fermentation which will cause discomfort, bloating and gas.  Next time you sit down for a meal, try proper food combining and enjoy your meal, even afterwards!