What is that sound I’m hearing? Can you hear it? Oh, it’s the sound of another bee buzzing health trend. And this time the hottest word around town is about food combining. Now you might ask, okay, food combining? Shouldn’t that be pretty straight forward? The combination of different foods..? That thing I do like every time I have a meal..?
Well, that’s what a normal person would think, wouldn’t we? But this kind of food combining is more complex, more strict, and maybe a tiny bit more scientific than just putting a bunch of random foods together. So let’s talk about this trendy food combining thing.
What is food combining?
Despite the fact that it sounds like eating different combinations of food, it actually means to not eat specific foods together. The theory behind this new food phenomenon is that the human body isn’t designed to digest more than one type of food group at once, meaning that we shouldn’t eat certain foods together in a meal. Since some foods digest faster than others, it can cause chaos in your stomach, and make the food “stock up” in there. Some people even claim that the slow digested food can “ferment in your body…”
The food combining diet, or whatever we should call it has categorized foods into specific groups. And it’s not just one group, since different people have different opinions on how we should categorize our food. But the most common categories are:
The combination of nutrients and food groups which include:
3. Carbs, primarily starches.
6. Acidic and alkaline foods.
I will go through each category further down in the post. But, essentially the food combining diet talks about how we should eat these different foods together to achieve optimal digestion and health benefits. It’s also claimed that if we do combine our foods wrong we can suffer from major digestive issues, disease, toxic build ups and other nasty stuff you’d rather stay away from.
Food combining rules
As eating healthy wasn’t complicated and time consuming enough, now we have to follow these specific guide lines of how to eat our food!? What’s next? Should we do a head stand and hold a downward facing dog pose for 30 seconds before taking a shit? Hopefully not. That would require a lot of planning before taking your morning dump, just as food combining will do to be frank… So, let’s talk about these rules, what are they?
The combination of nutrients
The first rule is the combination of nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, and protein. When following a food combining diet you’re not supposed to eat these food groups together. For example, you can’t eat a starchy potato together with your steak and avocado. That’s definitely not a meal i would have myself, but you get the point. When combining these nutrients the claim is that our body can’t absorb all the nutrients properly, which leads to indigestion and other health complications in the long run. Each meal should be eaten around 3-4 hours apart for the body to fully digest the current meal.
Something we need to address here is that it’s pretty much impossible to eat every food group separately. Let’s take vegetables for example. They are considered a carbohydrate but they also do contain some protein, and let’s take chicken, a lean protein that also contains a bit of fat. It’s really hard do never combine these different food groups in one meal. The food combining diet does emphasize on the largest percent of each nutrient the food contains though.
Eat fruit alone
Fruit. It’s sweet, it’s yummy, and should be eaten alone. Not only alone, but you should also not combine acidic fruit like pineapples, lime, lemons, and blueberries together with less acidic fruits which usually are most of our “normal” fruits such as apples, bananas, pears, and grapes. The only exception is melons. Melons should always be eaten by themselves, preferably on an empty stomach because of their fast digestion. So thinking about eating a fruit salad? Well, think again! I suppose…
Keep the body alkaline
If you’ve ever lived in LA you know that an alkaline body and keeping a normal pH level is super trendy and absolutely a necessity to reach optimal health. From my five years living there, I remember that alkaline was the shit. Alkaline, water, alkaline water purifiers, alkaline water filters, alkaline cocktails, alkaline gluten free oat milk matcha lattes, okay maybe not alkaline cocktails and matcha lattes, but if you shouted alkaline loud on the streets, you’d have a swarm of trendy LA hippies around you (and yes, I was one of them, so I’m not trash talking or stomping on anyone’s feet over here).
So what does “keeping the body alkaline” even mean? The acidic – alkaline pH scale ranges from 0 – 14, where 0 is very acidic and 14 is very alkaline. 7 is the neutral state. Some foods are more acidic than others, and by combining acidic and non-acidic foods (such as starches and proteins) the theory is that our body can’t produce acidic and non-acidic enzymes at the same time, which leads to poor digestion.
What’s important to know in this case is that our stomach always are acidic. I mean, if there was a contest for most acidic bad boy in the world, it would go to our tummies. On the pH scale our stomach is all the way down at 1-2, which is pretty damn acidic if 0 is as acidic as it gets. Why our stomach is this acidic is because it kills off bacteria. And here we are so worried about our bodies being too acidic!
What happens when we eat food, no matter if it’s acidic or not, our body regulates the acidic levels to never get too high or too low, basically keeping it at the perfect 7 (neutral). This means that no matter if you eat an acidic or a non-acidic food, our bodies can in fact produce the right kind of enzymes to keep the stomach neutral. Our bodies are smart guys, it usually knows what to do.
Is food combining healthy?
So, now, let’s spill the beans over this. Is food combining healthy or not? Is it actually more beneficial for our digestion and health to eat certain foods separately? Well, the answer is both yes and no. If your body handles digestion better by eating certain foods separate, then go at it! Keep doing whatever you’re doing. But if you aren’t eating this type of way but still feel splendid like a British lady at afternoon tea, then don’t. So far, there aren’t that many scientific researches that claims that eating this specific way is right or wrong.
The food combining diet is pretty intense, and it’s almost too many rules to follow for our own sanity. In the end it all goes back to the individual. Everything doesn’t work for everybody, and that’s definitely the case with food combining. I love my fruit, and I want to eat it whenever I want. Melons, grapes, pineapples, the whole shebang! No food combining, or the president of the united states (well, definitely not the president of the united states…) can tell me what and how to eat.
Bottom line is, don’t just fall head over heels for the latest health trends. The best trend to follow is your trend.
Get the most out of your nutrients
While food combining of the extreme kinds like the rules listed above isn’t supported by scientific evidence, there are a few food combinations that are good for us in maximizing the way our body absorbs nutrients.
Vitamin A and fats
Vitamin A is essential for our bones, reproduction, and maintaining strong and beautiful hair, skin, and nails. But, if we aren’t absorbing our vitamin A properly, it won’t do shit in our body. To maximum the absorption of vitamin A you need to combine it together with a fat source. Roast your carrots in olive oil, eat your avocado toast together with some kale, or smoother some plant based butter on your sweet potato.
Iron and vitamin C
Do you want to know the secret sauce behind Tony Starks endeavors? The answer is Iron! The important nutrient that helps us with carrying oxygen around in our body, reduce fatigue, headaches, and anemia.
When consuming iron rich foods, especially plant foods such as dark chocolate, dried fruit, spinach, beans, and lentils you need an extra push to better absorb the iron. Vitamin C is the excellent companion for absorbing the iron properly. Eat your iron rich foods together with a bunch of vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables such as red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, berries, or kale which contain both iron and vitamin C.