The Case for Proper Food-Combining for Better Digestive Health
Some people swear by it while others dismiss it as just another fad… Does food combining make sense?
Food combining is not a new concept. As far back the 12th century AD, the following advice was given to the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China:
* "Food and drink are relied upon to nurture life. But if one does not know that the nature of substances may be opposed to each other, and one consumes them altogether indiscriminately, the vital organs will be thrown out of harmony and disastrous consequences will soon arise. Therefore, those who wish to nurture their lives must carefully avoid doing such damage to themselves".
Dr William Hay (1866 – 1940) was a pioneer of the food combining principle and the first to popularise it in the early 20th century. His famous 'Dr Hay diet" is based on awareness of the fact that some foods we consume require an acidic environment for digestion, while others require alkaline enzymes.
Does it really work?
Protagonists claim that proper food combining is key to optimising the digestive function (and consequently enhancing nutrients’ absorption) and the prevention of bloating, gas and other digestive issues. They believe this also encourages weight loss. Antagonists on the other hand, insist that our digestive system was designed to digest different foods simultaneously, in whatever combination.
Different types of foods you ingest trigger the release of different types of digestive enzymes. Some of those are acidic and the others alkaline. Independently, each type of enzyme breaks down the corresponding foods efficiently.
Food combining advocates believe that trouble starts when both types of enzymes are released simultaneously. In this instance, based on a simple rule of chemistry, the alkaline and acid enzymes neutralise each other, and neither type can fulfil its function.
Consequently, digestion is impeded and the meal you’ve eaten does not get completely processed and metabolised. This results in putrefaction or fermentation and consequently bloating and gas, chronic fatigue and malnutrition, due to poor absorption of nutrients.
In the long run, this constant mutual neutralisation of enzymes stresses the digestive system beyond its ability to function normally. This can trigger serious digestive disorders like gastritis, colitis, IBS, Crohn Disease, ulcers and other chronic conditions.
It is not what we eat that determines how much nutrition our body receives, but what our system is able to digest and metabolise.
As with any other discovery or claim, there is no better way to assess it than to try it for yourself. This is especially useful if you are experiencing digestive problems or bloating and gas.
The Basic Rules for Food Combining
The principle of Food combining is based on the discovery that certain combinations of food are digested with greater ease than others. Additionally, different types of food require different times to be digested. The concept was born out of a thorough study and understanding of each digestive enzyme’s particular properties, role and action, and the chemical reactions that occur when enzymes mix with the foods we ingest.
- Eat fruits alone and not with or after food
- Do not drink while eating as this dilutes the digestive enzymes
- Do not eat more than 1 type of protein in a meal (no fish and meat or cheese and meat/fish)
- Do not combine protein and starches or protein and carbohydrates in 1 meal
- Do not combine proteins with fats
- Avoid combining acids and carbohydrates
- Avoid combining acids and proteins
- Use fats sparingly
Proper food combination immediately improves digestion and health by taking the pressure off the digestive organs.
It results in better nutrition (since nutrients are more efficiently absorbed), less fermentation, less discomfort and less bloating and gas. It also relieves food allergies, which seem to disappear as a result of proper food combining.
I personally am a staunch believer in the food combining theory based on my own experience. I had been suffering from regular bouts of bloating after meals and had tried many remedies to relieve it, in vain. Out of desperation, I finally decided to experiment with the food combining principles. It worked like magic from the first meal! By omitting an ingredient or 2 from a meal I was able to digest my food more efficiently and avoid the usual suffering and discomfort of bloating and gas.
Since it is so easy and requires but simple alterations to your diet, I sincerely advise you to try food combining, especially if you tend to suffer from frequent bloating and gas.
By Rand Khalil
* Chia Ming, Essential Knowledge for Eating and Drinking, 1368 AD.
More tips on natural bloating and gas relief:
Bloating Causes and Remedies
Zen Secrets to a healthy and flat tummy
Natural Dietary Fibres
Foods That Cause Bloating
Food Combining for Better Digestive Health
Food Intolerance: A Major Trigger of Bloating
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