Thursday, February 21, 2008

Food Combining

In my last post regarding Digestion, Hanlie left me the following comment:

Another very effective way to combat digestive problems (and this has changed people's lives) is to never combine concentrated foods. Either have a concentrated starch with vegetables, or concentrated protein with fruit and vegetables. It really makes a huge difference and is one of the Five Steps of The Natural Way.

I have read a lot about it but have never really taken the time to look at it. When I was eating SAD I would have flare-ups, stop eating for a few days and everything would be fine. Then I went raw and I had the worst time. It was so frustrating having stomach issues all the time.

When I started juicing I thought I would be free of all this indigestion, bloating etc. I thought it might be a problem for a while but honestly I thought by day 25 I wouldn't have to worry about it. It is not the case.

With my stomach gurgling and churning and the pain in my esophagus increasing I decided to take some time to do some research today.

As you can see by the two different charts that I have posted here there are some different opinions. The chart to the left (OFC) states fruits can't be mixed with anything other than fruits. The above chart(FCH) says vegetables can be mixed with everything and sub-acid and acid fruits are good with lettuce and celery.

Then there is Victoria Boutenko's book Green For Life that states Greens are to be considered their own category of food and that they combine well with everything. Her smoothie recipes combine bananas, pears, strawberries and more with greens.

I looked at my educational course from the Creative Health Institute that follows Ann Wigmore's philosophy and it says fruit can only be eaten by itself and that includes tomatoes which are sub acid fruits. Ann Wigmore did say that watermelon can be mixed into blended soup and the recipe section includes recipes that have apples mixed into the energy soup so there is some contradictory information here.

Then I found the following quote in The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford:

Protein and carbohydrate are digested differently. That is a fact. Carbohydrate digestion starts in the mouth when the digestive enzyme amylase, which is present in saliva, starts to act on the food you chew. Once you swallow food and it enters the relatively acid environment of the stomach, amylase stops working. Only when the food leaves the stomach, where the digestive environment becomes more alkaline, can the next wave of amylase enzymes, this time secreted into the small intestine from the pancreas, continue and complete the digestion of carbohydrate.

Protein, on the other hand, is not digested in the mouth at all. It needs the acid environment of the stomach and may hang out there for three hours until all the complex proteins are broken down into smaller collections of amino acids known as peptides. This happens only in the stomach because it contains the high levels of hydrochloric acid needed to activate the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin. Once peptides leave the stomach, they meet peptidase enzymes, again from the pancreas, which break them down into individual amino acids, ready for absorption

He goes on to talk about the difference of a meat eater's diet and a vegetarian being different and finishes up the discussion with this:

I see no problem in combining rice, lentils, beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Now I know that greens have a high protein content but I believe that because they are high in amino acids which are the building blocks of protein they don't have to get broken down as described above. Of course I may be wrong about this. I am not exactly sure.

I decided to break down some of my last meals to see where they fit in with some of the rules I found and to see if I am making bad food combining choices.
  1. Orange (acid fruit), Spinach (green), Celery (vegetable)
    FCH - Good
    OFC - Bad
    Green for Life (GFL) - Good

  2. Romaine (green), Tomato (acid fruit), Celery (veg), Cilantro (green), Onion (veg), cucumber (veg)
    FCH - Good
    GFL - Good

  3. Romaine (green), Celery (veg), Cabbage (veg), Carrot (starch), Cilantro (green), cucumber (veg)
    FCH - Good
    OFC - Good
    GFL - Good

  4. Kale (green), Pear (sub acid), Cucumber (veg), Celery (veg)
    FCH - ? It says sub acid fruits combine well with lettuce and celery but it says vegetables combine with everything?
    OFC - Bad
    GFL- Not sure about the cucumber

So where does that leave me? Ha ha, I have no idea. Who do I listen to? The funny thing is that I can eat (drink) the same thing one time and be fine and then sick from it another time. For instance; the other day I had my orange, celery, spinach for breakfast and no problem. Then later that evening I had it again and I was so sick I couldn't finish it.

It seems like my first juice of the day is always fine. My second juice is usually fine. My third will sometimes make me sick and the forth will usually make me sick. My stomach seems to stop working as the day goes on. I mentioned this to my hydrotherapist and she wondered if I was allergic to something I was eating. Maybe, I don't really know but again, it is weird that I am OK sometimes and not others.

The other thing that is strange is that the juice I had today was number 3 above and it was the only one that said it was properly combined by all 3 and it made me sick. Hmmmm, I will have to keep looking for answers and if anyone has any suggestions or advice I would love to hear it.

No answers from me today, just questions.

1 comment:

Hanlie said...

This can get very technical, but I think each person will find his/her own tolerance level. Food combining according to The Natural Way is actually quite simple.

1. Most important is to not have starch and protein at the same meal. I wrote about it on my old blog

2. Fruit is best eaten by itself, and only about 3-4 hours after eating anything else. This is because food digests quicker than other foods and will also ferment if eaten with or shortly after other food. The exception is nuts, which can be eaten with acid fruit (like a pineapple cashew shake). Eat at least one fruit meal per day, preferably breakfast.

3. Sub-acid fruit can be eaten with eaither acid fruit or sweet fruit, but sweet fruit and acid fruit should not be eaten together.

I don't worry about the last one too much, but the first two really makes a huge difference for me.

I don't think that we should really worry when juicing, since the juice is already mostly digested. I suspect that citrus may be irritating your stomach and bowel at the moment. Maybe you should think of leaving it off for a few days to see... You can always reintroduce it at a later stage.

I tried to scan the charts for you, but it didn't work very well.