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BEST OF HEALTH: Food combining vital to digestion

Lisa King

BEST OF HEALTH: Food combining vital to digestion

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GOOD DIGESTION is necessary for the maintenance of well-being and adequate energy levels. To ensure thorough and proper digestion, food combining is an important consideration. 
The human digestive system is not designed for complex meals because different foods make different and specific demands on the digestive system. The fact that we can digest many different kinds of foods does not mean we can do so all at once.
This is explained in the book The PH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young, PhD, and Shelley Redford Young.
Protein digestion requires a highly acidic environment and takes place in the stomach. In contrast, starch and vegetables require a mildly alkaline environment for digestion, which takes place in the mouth and smaller intestine, while fat requires a mild alkaline environment and are digested in the small intestine.  
It should be clear, then, that these different types of food do not do well when eaten at the same time as one will interfere with digestion of the other, causing incomplete digestion of both.  
In addition, whatever is inefficiently digested by the body will be digested by harmful microforms.
When thinking about combining foods you must understand that most foods fall into three categories: concentrated foods, high water content foods, and fats.  
The concentrated foods are proteins, such as meat, and carbohydrates, such as potatoes; high water content foods are fruits and vegetables; and fats include lard, oils, omega 3, 6 and 9, and essential fatty acids.
Young proposes a simple solution: mix no more than four foods from no more than two categories of food at any given meal. Avoid eating protein and carbohydrate in the same meal. The proteins and carbohydrates are the most concentrated foods and require the most energy to digest and they each require different enzymes.  
If protein is eaten with carbohydrates, the different digestive juices in contact with each other may dilute the other’s effectiveness.
When animal protein is digested in the stomach, it creates acid. When combined with starches, the sugars in the starches make even more acid, thereby leading to indigestion, heartburn and gas. Proteins should be eaten with steamed vegetables or salads for optimum digestion.
Fruits fall into three categories: sugar, acid and sub-acid, with melons in a category of their own. When eaten alone on an empty stomach, fruits wash and clean the digestive tract and prepare it for further nutrient absorption. The water rinses and hydrates, fibres sweep and clean and the enzymes activate chemical digestion.
Therefore, it is suggested that you eat fruit by itself and never combine with other foods because fruits which have the highest water content take the least amount of time to digest. Best of all, eat fruits before but not immediately after other foods; and after a meal wait at least three hours before eating more fruits.
 Additionally, it is recommended that eating juicier food items such as vegetables or salads at the beginning of a meal paves the way for heavier items later in the meal.
Beverages, even water, can be bad for digestion if used in combination with other foods. Do not wash down food with a drink. Water or other liquids dilute digestive chemicals so they should be drunk at least half hour to an hour before a meal that includes animal protein.
However, if you are eating a strictly vegetarian meal, then you can have a drink. Cold drinks are troublesome, though, as they shut down digestive activity. On the other hand, you may find that a little warm water after a meal aids digestion.
In a nutshell, some excellent combinations are non-starchy vegetables with carbohydrates; also proteins and mildly starchy vegetables with fats and oils and non-starchy vegetables.  
Eating foods in the combinations that are optimal for ease in digestion supports nutrient absorption. In addition, by doing so we conserve energy for the cleansing of accumulated waste and reserve more energy for life.