seasonal vegetables and fruit
Dr. Elson Haas
written by
Dr. Elson Haas

Nov 08, 2020

Article Tags: Nutrition | prevention | health education | integrative medicine clinic

Food Combining

Food combining involves the proper mixing or separation of foods at meals for the best digestion and for extracting as much nutrition as possible. Given the basic American eating habits, proper food combining may appear to be a fanatic indulgence contrary to the popular concept of a “balanced meal.” We don’t stop to think that a meal that provides too many foods at the same time is actually unbalanced and can lead to faulty digestion, poor absorption, fermentation in the bowels, bloating and gas.

It is no surprise that the great industry of dietary aids for the “tummy” and the “seltzers” for gas and indigestion accompany our usual eating habits. The concept of balancing your diet over the whole day allows simpler food preparation, easier digestion, and better nutritional assimilation.

There are many different digestive substances, which break down each kind of food, suggesting, according to food physiologists, that each food has its own best media, as well as stimulating the release of the acids and enzymes it needs for its own complete digestion. Certain foods need very little hydrochloric acid while others need a lot, and some foods you eat can interfere with the breakdown of other foods. For instance, acidic fruits disturb the effectiveness of certain enzymes, such as the amylases, needed to digest starches, so that eating fruits together with starches may inhibit starch digestion.

We should consider the possibility that nature provided us with a system that appreciates simplicity and not mixing our foods. Another possibility is that foods that grow together may be eaten together.

All foods eaten at the same time must be broken down to the same consistency before the stomach will actually begin emptying. But fats and proteins take longer to digest than do carbohydrates. For example, simple fruits may take 10 to 20 minutes, while meats can take 45 to 90 minutes, depending on how well they are chewed. If fruits are eaten at the same time as meat, they will then have an extra hour in the stomach. During this time, fermentation will take place, introducing gas into the system and causing indigestion, belching, and/or cramps.

Proper food combining over a whole day might start with fruit in the early morning. If you wish to have a grain cereal or other protein for breakfast, you might eat this a half-hour after the fruit. For lunch you could have a salad, vegetables, a milk product, meat or a grain; they all combine quite well together. For dinner a whole grain with cooked vegetables and/or a raw salad which gives you a filling nourishing meal that digests well.

HERE is a link to a “flow-chart” which demonstrates good food combining for best digestion.