Could following the simple principles of food combining be the secret to your weight loss? Possibly. Many slimming programs and specialised diets focus mainly on food restrictions, eating less and exercising more, but there is minimal or no mention of the importance of food combining.
The importance of food combining and its benefits
Food combining applies the principle of preparing meals that simplify and streamline your digestion highlighting food as energy instead of a complex absorption process that causes bloatedness and sluggishness. It views the gut as an ecosystem which performs best when meals are kept uncomplicated. It embodies the notion that the faster your body is able to digest the food, the quicker it can get rid of it – ultimately reducing weight gain, food intolerances and the likelihood of developing gut diseases such as candida.
Understand how your food is digested
To apply food combining it is good to gain a clear understanding of how foods are digested in the gut.
How are proteins digested?
The body needs an acidic condition in order for protein digestion to take place. This is done by the secretion of the enzyme pepsin and hydrochloric acid.
Foods such as fish, eggs, meat and nuts are high in protein.
How is starch digested?
In order for your body to digest starch, it needs an alkaline condition. This is caused by the secretion of the ptyaline enzyme.
Starchy foods include bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and corn, to name a few.
The Principles of Food Combining:
1. Avoid eating proteins and starches together
Because protein requires an acidic condition and starch an alkaline state, the two are not the best of friends in the gut. Instead, it causes neutralisation in the digestive tract bringing about bloatedness and sluggishness.
Only eat proteins or starches with non-starchy/ocean vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables absorb well in both alkaline and acidic environments making them an apt choice for a side.
Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, leafy greens, green beans, sprouts, cucumber, asparagus and lettuces.
2. Eat fruits alone
Although fruits are also regarded as a carbohydrate, they should be eaten alone due to its fast-digesting nature which is 30 minutes within eating. Fruits encourage pathogens because it is highly concentrated with natural sugars. It is also best eaten on an empty stomach and should be disregarded as a dessert item.
An exception with fruit: they are great for delicious smoothies and can be combined with ocean vegetables.
3. Use fats with starches and proteins
Using the correct fats in moderation can inspire weight loss. Steer away from unhealthy fats and instead choose unrefined and organic oils which include coconut, pumpkin seed and flax oil.
4. Combine dairy with sour fruits, nuts, ocean/non-starchy vegetables and sour fruits.
The protein casein found in dairy makes it a tricky digestible food group for many who lack the enzymes.
And even for those who are NOT lactose intolerant, it is better to stay clear of milk as it slows downs and hinders the digestive process. However, fermented dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are excellent sources of protein.
5. Beans, peas and other grains with non-starchy vegetables
This food group is more complicated as it is classified as both a protein and a carbohydrate (it’s one of the reasons people feel gassy and flatulent after eating them). However, due to it’s make-up leaning more toward that of a carbohydrate, it is better served with non-starchy vegetables.
6. Avoid drinking water with foods
If you must drink water with meals, drink it in sips and at room temperature. This is because of the diluting nature of water and it’s ability to slow down digestion. But remember, water on its own is vital for flushing out toxins and staying hydrated – so drink as much as you can during the day.
Tip: Add some apple cider vinegar to the water to spruce up your digestive functioning.
Food combining, unlike any other diet, is all-inclusive when it comes to food groups and aims toward balance instead of restriction. It encourages us to remain mindful of what we eat and creates a greater understanding of the gut functioning of our bodies.