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Perhaps you’ve heard of the American alternative medicine advocate (aka – natural hygienist), Herbert Shelton who made the idea of food combining popular with his books and lectures on the subject. He has quite a fascinating history to say the least, perhaps you can read up on him in your spare time. His nine basic rules of proper food combining are:

  • Eat acids and starches at separate meals. Acids neutralize the alkaline medium required for starch digestion and the result is fermentation and indigestion.
  • Eat protein foods and carbohydrate foods at separate meals. Protein foods require an acid medium for digestion.
  • Eat but one kind of protein food at a meal.
  • Eat proteins and acid foods at separate meals. The acids of acid foods inhibit the secretion of the digestive acids required for protein digestion. Undigested protein putrefies in bacterial decomposition and produces some potent poisons.
  • Eat fats and proteins at separate meals. Some foods, especially nuts, are over 50% fat and require hours for digestion.
  • Eat sugars (fruits) and proteins at separate meals.
  • Eat sugars (fruits) and starchy foods at separate meals. Fruits undergo no digestion in the stomach and are held up if eaten with foods that require digestion in the stomach.
  • Eat melons alone. They combine with almost no other food.
  • Desert the desserts. Eaten on top of meals they lie heavy on the stomach, requiring no digestion there, and ferment. Bacteria turn them into alcohols and vinegars and acetic acids.

And then there are Harvey and Marilyn Diamond who popularized food combining with their book “Fit For Life.” Simply put, the Diamond’s Fit For Life theory teaches that when foods are combined inappropriately, they become rotten and cannot be absorbed from the intestinal tract. This in turn toxifies the body – which ultimately makes people fat.

Principally, according to Fit For Life, we should eat fruit from early morning to noon. The reason being is that it helps cleanse our system by facilitating the ‘elimination’ process. We should always eat fruit alone. Lunch and dinner can consist of a carb based meal which would be grains, beans and veggies OR a protein meal, consisting of protein and veggies. Never combine a carb and a protein as they will battle it out in your stomach and then become toxic. Dairy food & refined sugar is banned and although fruit is good, it must not be consumed at the end of a meal. I find this a little peculiar since I’m familiar with many cultures who’s traditions are to eat fruit after a meal; and consquently these cultures seems to be among the most fit. Go figure, right?

Harvey and Marilyn’s book goes on to claim that people gain weight because they wrongly combine protein rich foods with starchy foods, and not for the common beliefs of overeating and too little exercise. It also says our digestive tracts cannot assimilate more than one of these “concentrated foods” at a time, since the enzymes that digest protein nullify the enzymes that digest carbohydrate, and vice versa.

Food combining in general has a broad base of beliefs. There are several out there and they all have their own unique variations to the rules. In other words some people say ‘this’ and others say ‘that.’ They all believe, however, that in order to get our digestive system in the optimal condition it was designed to be, we must learn how to combine our foods properly.

Another general approach to food combining is by grouping our foods as follows:

  • Proteins and Fats
  • Carbohydrates
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit

Proteins play a role in every cellular function; they regulate muscle contraction, antibody production and blood vessel expansion and contraction to maintain normal blood pressure. Protein is a critical part of our diet.

Fats are also crucial to our diet. We never want to eliminate fats completely, that would be very unhealthy and besides, our hair would fall out!

Fat provides a major storage form of metabolic fuel, and when fats are broken down they provide us with energy. Fats facilitate the use of essential fat-soluble vitamins and it also stabilizes blood sugar. Unsaturated fats help lower cholesterol levels.

Proteins and fats can be eating together.

Carbohydrates mostly come from plant sources rather than animal sources. They breakdown into glucose, which is our body’s main source of energy.  Completely eliminating carbs from our diet is dangerous, and unfortunately I see many people trying to do this in an attempt to lose weight.  What we all need to learn is that all these rules really need to be taken in context! We can’t lose sight of the whole picture of how things work in relation to others.

Eliminating refined carbs such as white flour, white rice and sugar would be ok, but we should enjoy abundantly whole-grain pastas (yes..gluten free grains are included), and cereals. Complex carbs that provide us fiber and roughage are necessary for our digestive system. Since carbs make us feel good by releasing the hormone “serotonin,” you can understand why eliminating carbs completely could lead to depression. Still, you must be careful not to load up on the wrong carbs: mac & cheese, pot pies, etc.  – get the idea?

Any carb can be eaten with veggies.

Vegetables are basically carbohydrates but low in starch and cause minimal rise in blood sugar. There’s an elite group of veggies that do not fit into this category. Veggies are filled with vitamins and minerals and provide essential roughage for proper elimination. We should eat these in abundance. All veggies can be eaten together and can be eaten with either group – carbs or proteins.

Fruits also are carbohydrates but must be eaten alone due to their sugar content. They too are high in fiber and help keep our digestive track going. They are full of nutrients and vitamins but this can be lost when mixed with other foods.

Fruit turns to acid when combined with other foods and spoils in the stomach, causing gas and bloating – UGG. Therefore, fruit should be:

  • Eaten alone
  • 20 minutes before a carb meal
  • 1 hr. before proteins and fats
  • 2 hrs. after eating any meal

Any fruit can be eaten together.

Some foods are items that offer no conflict and can be eating with all groups: soy sauce, vinegar, mustard, and herbs & spices. Lemons and limes are also no conflict foods even though they are fruit, they are low in sugar.

Is your head spinning? Mine is!

On the other hand, like most issues and topics, there’s a flip side to food combining as well. Many believe that there is not enough scientific or clinical evidence and that food combining contradicts our knowledge of physiology and nutrition. It is also widely believed that food combining does not promote a balanced diet and may cause deficiencies in zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and others.

As I mentioned in a previous post, food combining is considered to be crucial to a raw food diet. I will go into this in more detail tomorrow in Part III.

I’d like to conclude with this one thought & question, which I will attempt to answer at the end of my food combining series part III tomorrow. At thiat time I will also share my own opinon on this subject: 

“There are many theories available to us; food combining, eating all foods in moderation, high protein diet, low carb diet, vegetarian and vegan diets, on and on. Is there only one way to health?”

Combined knowledge with common sense love,

Mary

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