Food combining for better digestion
By Grace Van Berkum, RHN
Did you know the combinations of foods you eat can affect your digestion and
health? Do you suffer from bloating, smelly gas, constipation, mucous, or
partially digested foods in your stools? All foods enter and exit the body
at different times and require different digestive enzymes and acid or
alkaline conditions. When we eat foods that don’t combine well, a bevy of
negative things can occur within our body, including putrification,
fermentation, indigestion, and constipation, which can eventually lead to
disease. If you experience these symptoms, please know that your body should
not respond this way to food every time you eat. When you digest your food
with ease, your body functions with ease. And what happens in your stomach
and digestive tract affects all aspects of your health.
Food Combining Basics:
Rule #1: Eat fruit and melon on an empty stomach. Fruit is excellent and
offers plenty of nutrition, but it is best eaten alone to avoid fermentation
and putrification in the digestive tract, which causes gas. Twenty to 60
minutes away from other foods is ideal.
Rule #2: Starches + vegetables = good. (Starches + protein = bad).
Starches should be eaten with vegetables only (not protein). This includes
grains, squashes, sweet potatoes, yams, root vegetables, beans, cereals, and
breads. Give yourself about 3 hours to fully digest.
Good combinations are salad and squash soup, quinoa and vegetables, brown
rice and vegetables, beans and stir fry, veggie sandwiches.
Rule #3: Protein + vegetables = good. (Protein + starches = bad). Protein
should be eaten with vegetables only (not starches). This includes nuts,
seeds, beans, and flesh. Give yourself about 4 hours to fully digest
non-animal protein. Animal protein can take 8 hours or more.
Good combinations are nuts on a salad, beans and veggies, flesh meat and
salad, veggie omelette, and seed pâté.
Rule #4: Avoid liquids with meals. Most people are shocked at this because
we are often told to hydrate. Hydration is one of the best things you can do
for yourself, but drink your water away from meals. The best time to drink
is 15 minutes before you eat or 1 hour after. Liquids during eating dilute
digestive juices, which slows digestion and metabolism, impedes absorption
of nutrients, contributes to indigestion, and can also contribute to
cravings because not all nutrients are absorbed. (Strong cravings indicate
your body is out of balance). A little sip here and there throughout a meal
is not detrimental; just avoid a lot of liquids. Also, stick to room
temperature water that doesn't shock your body and slow the digestive
For more on food combinations and tips to aid digestion - get the May/June