7 Rules for Food Combining That You Should Be Aware of ...


Food combining may seem like a new fad, but it is actually a century old idea that began with William Howard Hay’s rules for food combining. In the early 1900s, Hay was a physician based in New York who sought to eradicate his and his patients’ health problems through proper eating. According to his food combining principles, certain foods shouldn’t be combined because they do not digest well together. He believed that improper food combinations resulted in an inability to digest, absorb, assimilate, and eliminate food properly. His rules for food combining are quite controversial, with some holistic doctors prescribing his method and other doctors saying there is no scientific basis. Regardless, food combining does seem to help some people who have digestive problems and is at least worth being aware of.

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No Carbohydrates with Acidic Fruits

If you are following the rules for food combining, carbohydrates and acidic foods should not be eaten together. This means all starches and starchy vegetables should not be eaten with vinegar, lemons, limes, pineapples, tomatoes, or any sour fruit. According to food combining, the enzyme ptyalin, which is found in saliva and digests carbohydrates, acts best in an alkaline environment. The acid in vinegar and acidic fruits inhibits the first stage of carbohydrate digestion, the stage that occurs while you are chewing.


Eating carbohydrates with acidic fruits can lead to indigestion and bloating because the body requires different pH levels to digest these food types effectively. When combined, they can neutralize each other, hindering optimal digestion. For instance, it's suggested that a hearty pasta dish would digest more efficiently if not accompanied by a side of tomato salad. Moreover, ptyalin only works on carbohydrates in a strictly alkaline environment, thus mixing with acid can stop the digestion in its tracks, causing discomfort and possibly affecting nutrient absorption. It's better to enjoy these foods at separate meals for wellness and digestive harmony.


No Proteins with Acidic Fruits

Acid fruits should also not be eaten with proteins, which are defined as any food that is at least 15 percent protein. Not only do acidic fruits inhibit ptyalin, they also stop the flow of gastric juices. Pepsin and hydrochloric acid are needed to break down proteins, but these digestive juices stop flowing when you eat an acidic fruit. As a result, any protein that you eat with acidic fruits will not be broken down properly, which could leave you with gastrointestinal problems and possibly protein malabsorption.


Combining protein-rich foods like meat, fish, or dairy with acidic fruits such as oranges, pineapples, or lemons might lead to discomfort and suboptimal digestion. It's crucial to give your body the chance to produce the necessary enzymes for protein assimilation without interference. To ensure smooth digestion, these food groups should be consumed at separate times. A good rule of thumb is to wait a couple of hours after consuming protein before enjoying your favorite acidic fruit to sidestep potential digestive issues like bloating or indigestion.


No Concentrated Proteins with Concentrated Carbohydrates

I have already mentioned that a protein is defined as anything that is at least 15 percent protein, but for this rule it is also important to know that Hay defined a carbohydrate as anything having 20 percent or more carbohydrates. If you follow food combining, this means a meat and potatoes meal is off limits. The theory behind this rule is that proteins and carbohydrates both require a different pH medium to digest, with proteins needing a slightly more acidic environment. Combining proteins and carbohydrates, therefore, stops the digestion of both because the pH in your stomach is no longer suited to either once they are combined. This could explain why beans are so difficult to digest. At 25 percent protein and 50 percent carbohydrate, beans are technically both a protein and a carbohydrate making them very difficult to digest.


In accordance with this guidance, it's best to enjoy your steak or chicken with non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens or broccoli, which typically have less than 20% carbohydrate content. This simplifies the digestive process by allowing your stomach to maintain its optimal pH for protein breakdown. As a result, digestion is more efficient, potentially leading to improved gut health and less discomfort post-meal. Remember, the harmony of your digestive system can be greatly influenced by the combinations of foods you choose to eat.


Don’t Eat Two Concentrated Proteins in the Same Meal

Proteins are probably the most difficult macronutrient to digest. As a result, it is best to only eat one concentrated protein at a time. This means that a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon is not a very good idea if you want to have optimal digestion. Also, while an indulgence, the surf and turf meals at restaurants are not great for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients.


When proteins clash in your stomach, it takes a toll on your digestive system. Think of it this way: each protein requires a unique set of enzymes for breakdown, and when you combine them—such as with cheese and nuts—your body has to work harder, leading to potential discomfort and bloating. To ensure a smoother digestive process, consider pairing a single protein source with non-starchy vegetables or healthy grains. This approach supports better absorption, leaving you feeling light and energetic rather than sluggish.


No Proteins with Fats

Just like acidic fruits, fat decreases the production of the gastric juices pepsin and hydrochloric acid needed to digest proteins. When you eat fats with proteins, the protein won’t be able to be fully digested. By now, it probably seems like proteins can’t be eaten with anything. However, any non-starchy vegetable can be eaten with protein. In fact, non-starchy vegetables can be eaten with any food group; green leafy vegetables combine especially well with all foods.


Incorporating non-starchy veggies, like kale and spinach, with proteins can aid digestion and provide a balanced plate. Leafy greens have the added benefit of being packed with fiber and enzymes that help in breaking down food and absorbing nutrients effectively. To boost your protein meal, consider a colorful salad or steamed vegetables. For optimal digestion, pair your grilled chicken or fish with a generous serving of broccoli, zucchini, or asparagus. Remember, these powerful greens not only facilitate digestion but also enhance your meal's nutritive value.


No Starch with Sugar

Simple sugars in the form of fruits, honey, syrup, molasses, sugar, and jellies do not combine well with starchy foods. This is an especially disappointing rule as it eliminates most baked goods. The reasoning behind this rule is that sugar prevents ptyalin from entering the saliva. If you remember from previously, ptyalin is needed to break down carbohydrates. Additionally, simple sugars digest very rapidly and are likely to ferment waiting for carbohydrates to be processed in the stomach. As a result, you can experience unpleasant gas.


Pairing starchy foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes with sweets may be tempting, but your digestive system may pay the price with bloating and discomfort. Instead, enjoy fruits and sweeteners on their own as a treat, separate from starchy meals. For those with a sweet tooth looking for alternatives, consider combining fats with sugars instead. This allows for some indulgence without the digestive conflict – think apple slices with almond butter or berries in coconut cream. It's about creating harmony in your meals so you can feel as good as you eat!


Some Foods Are Best Eaten Alone

In case you hadn’t picked up on it, it is best to eat fruits alone. They digest very rapidly, and digestion is much better when these are eaten by themselves. You can combine them in a green smoothie, however, you will want to leave melons out, because melons are one fruit that really has to be eaten alone. Also, it is generally better to eat dairy products by themselves. This is because milk can inhibit the flow of gastric juices; perhaps this why it is soothing to a sour stomach.

Food combining is overwhelming. There are many rules to follow if you want to do it properly. I don’t think it is for everyone however, if you have trouble digesting your food it may be worth trying to see if it helps. Certainly, there are some people who attest to the benefits of proper food combining. Would you ever try implementing these food combining rules to help with digestion?

articles.mercola.com, acidalkalinediet.net

Feedback Junction

Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

How about we don't label "rules" and eat what you would like?

What CAN you eat then....no proteins and fats?? Really?

Reading this makes my head hurt

So does this apply to smoothies?i wanted to put protein powder in my smoothies.

Too complicated... Who follows those rules? No steak and potatoes? LOL

Oh brother....

Total bs?lol

Reading this while eating spaghetti-o's... It contradicts half of those rules! Fuck it, it's delicious.

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