Digestion is a process of chemical alteration of food in digestive tract. In order for our body to assimilate nutrients from some food, it is necessary that all the components of that food are digested to their cellular level. Indigestion may occur for a couple of reasons, one of which is improper food combining, such as when we combine:
Foods with different passing times through digestive tract, so the foods that move slower through digestive tract hold the ones that move faster;
Foods that require different pH values of digestive juices and different digestive enzymes;
Indigestion doesn't just mean that the body cannot use all the nutrients from food, but also means that under the temperature and moist in the digestive tract, fermentation and putrefaction occur. Fermentation and putrefaction of food create toxic substances such are acetic acid, alcohol, indols, scatols and others.
As different foods have different passing times through digestive tract and require different pH values of digestive juices and different digestive enzymes, it is important that we combine only those foods that are compatible digestion wise.
In this blog post we will learn about proper combining of raw foods that are acceptable in the biological diet of humans: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Macronutrients are calorie sources and there are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, that is sugars, proteins and lipids, that is fats. All natural foods contain all three macronutrients.
Let's hold on here for a second. If all natural foods contain all tree macronutrients, does it mean that something that contains only one macronutrient is not even food? Think of sugar, oil, protein powder... Some food for thought, right?
But, let's get back to our topic. So, all natural foods contain all tree macronutrients, but in different quantities. Thus, we classify all foods according to their dominating macronutrients.
We can classify fruits into the following groups:
Sweet fruit: bananas, dates, persimmons...
Sub-acid fruit: apples, pears, raspberries...
Acid fruits: oranges, lemons, pineapples...
Fatty fruits: avocados, coconuts...
Save the chart below by clicking the right mouse button and then choosing "save as"!
We can classify vegetables into the following groups:
Leafy - green veggies - for example: butterhead lettuce;
Cellulose vegetables - for example: kale, broccoli, cauliflower;
Starchy vegetables - mildly starchy: zucchini, young carrots, young peas and corn... and starchy: pumpkin, old carrots, old corn...
There are also nuts and seeds which are concentrated fat and protein sources.
For a detailed list of foods classified according to their compositions click here.
Different fruits from the same group can be combined freely. For example: bananas and dates; or oranges and pineapples.
Sweet fruit goes well with:
- sweet fruit, for example: bananas and dates;
- subacid fruits for example: bananas and raspberries;
- greens, for example: bananas and lettuce;
Sub-acid fruit goes well with:
- subacid fruit, for example: apples and pears;
- sweet fruit, for example, bananas and raspberries;
- acid fruit, for example: pears and tangerines ;
- greens ;
Acid fruit goes well with:
- acid frut, for example: kiwis and tangerines;
- sub acid fruit, for example: pears and tangerines;
- greens ;
Greens go well with all other foods since, due to their low calorie content and high water content they are neutral digestion wise.
Cellulose and starchy veggies go well with greens.
Bare in mind that while mildly starchy veggies are not that hard to digest raw, starchy and cellulose veggies are in general hard to impossible digest raw, so, if used raw, can be used as a sprinkle on salads or as juices.
Nuts and seeds go well with:
- acid fruits, for example: guacamole - tomatoes and avocado;
Sweet fruit + acid fruit – for example, banana and orange, because the acid delays digestion of sugars, so the sugar ferments;
Sweet fruit + fats – for example, dates and nuts, because sugars go through the digestive tract quickly, they are not digested in the mouth, nor in the stomach, and go directly to the intestines for absorption into the blood stream. On the other side, fats stay in the stomach for a couple of hours. Thus, fats may cause sugar retention in the stomach, which may result in sugar fermentation.
Starch + sugars – for example, this would be bread and jam on a standard diet and pumpkin and dates on a raw diet. Yes, I know, pumpkin pies are popular and very tasty, even I have a pumpkin cupcake recipe. Being tasty as they are, they are not a perfect combination digestion wise. When our brain detect starch in the mouth, it dictates the secretion of ptyalin, a salivary amylase – a starch splitting enzyme that splits the starch to maltose. However, if starch is covered with sugars, our brain may detect only sugar and thus there is no ptyalin secretion. If starch is not converted into maltose in the mouth, the other phases of starch digestion won't occur. This results in starch indigestion.
Starch + acid – for example, on a standard diet it is bread and tomato and carrot and tomato on a raw diet. The acid destroys ptyalin which leads to the indigestion of starch.
Starch + fats – for example, on a standard diet it is potato chips and on a raw diet it would be pumpkin and avocado. After the starch, ideally in the form of dextrose, leaves the stomach and enters the intestine, the pancreas secretes amylase for converting dextrose to other monosaccharides that are to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If the dextrose enters the intestine together with fats, the bile will be secreted to emulsify the fats. The bile makes acid environment which inhibits the secretion of pancreatic amylase. This leads to fermentation of dextrose.
Starch + proteins – think of beans – rich in proteins and starch, and thus create gas. Pepsin, the proteins splitting enzyme, requires acid pH values for its activities. On the other hand, starch requires alkaline pH values of digestive juices. The two processes that require such opposite environments cannot go on the same time, so the fermentation occurs.
Fats + proteins – for example, on a standard diet it is oil on meat and on a raw diet it is avocado with nuts. Fats inhibit secretion and activity of pepsin – a protein splitting enzyme, as well of hydrochloric acid, and thus impede the protein digestion.
Melons and watermelons are best eaten alone due to their water rich content which makes them move through the digestive tract faster than other foods. From my personal experience however, melons go well with raspberries or blueberries and I know a lot of people who like ot add some lemon juice or passion fruit to their watermelon and it seems that this works fine for them. So, test and see what works for you.
Now, I would like to answer in advance a question that I believe wil show up:
Why should we care about food combining, when all foods in nature contain all three macronutrients and our bodies know how to digest those combinations?
Our bodies can efficiently digest all components of natural foods that are adapted to. However, natural occurring macronutrient combinations in the foods we are adapted to is absolutely different from the man made combinations of incompetible foods.
I hope this blog post brought clarification to you about food combining. I would like to see your comments on this topic, so please, leave them in the comment section below. If you liked this blog post, please share it.
- "Digestion Perfection", Dr.T.C.Fry, Dr. Herbert M.Shelton, Dr.David Klein et al, 2014, Maui, Hawai, Vibrant Health & Wealth Publications;
- "Food Combining Made Easy", Dr. Herbert M. Shelton, 1982, San Antonio, Texas, Shelton's Health School Publications;
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