Happy Friday fruity buddies! Any awesome plans for the week’s end? My weekend will be very typical. I work today and tomorrow, and I will cook for the Baby Sister and My Love on Sunday. Woop woop! I am sure that there will be some durian in there somewhere too…
Any who, this weeks question comes from Ben, and he asked;
“I see a lot of your meals seem to spread the gambit of sweet fruit, sub-acid fruit and acid fruit (elg. bananas, grapes and oranges all in one meal). Do you ever get digestive issues from food combining? I feel like I am always paying the price every time I break the rules”
Ok, so what the heck is Ben talking about?! Well he is talking about the theory of food combining!
For those of you who are not familiar with food combining, it is basically the theory, developed by a man named William Howard in 1911, that different food groups require different stomach enzymes to be broken down (acid enzymes or alkaline enzymes), and that when you combine foods that requires one type of enzyme, with foods that requires a different type, they cancel each other out and you do not digest your food properly.
The basic food groups are, Proteins, such as meat and dairy, Carbohydrates, like beans, legumes, grains and sugars, and Fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and oils. Then there are the Leafy Green and Watery Veggies as well as Fruits which have their own sub groups. What food combining says is that you should NEVER eat protein with carbohydrates because protein needs an acid environment, where as carbohydrates need an alkaline one in order to be broken down. Fats can be combined with either group, as can the leafy greens and watery veggies. Fruits are to be eaten on their own. Here is a visual break down;
Now, for the record, a lot of this theory has been debunked. There is never a time or a place (in a healthy person) where your stomach is going to be alkaline. It is pretty much a PH of 2 in there all the time. Carbohydrates start getting broken down by amylase in the mouth when we chew them, where as protein start to get digested by enzymes only in the stomach. That is pretty much the only process difference. Both food groups are going to go through the same “system” if you will, of digestion once they reach the stomach. They are squirted with chemicals from the stomach, churned, emulsified by bile if they are fatty, and then emptied into the small intestine after being ph neutralized. I have personally tried food combining in the past, and it really did nothing to help my digestion, and that is because eating meat and cheese and grains was NEVER going to digest well, no matter how I ate them! So if you are going to follow this program, know that it may not really be all it is cracked up to be, if you get my drift.
As for fruit, it has its own categories;
We have our Sweet Fruits, like dates, bananas, grapes and the like. We have Sub-Acid Fruits like apples, pears and peaches. We have our Acid Fruits like grapefruit, oranges and pineapple. Then there are melons. The theory goes that you can combine sub-acid fruits with either acid or sweet fruits, but never acid and sweet fruits. For instance, you can have an apple and a banana, or and apple and an orange, but you should never eat an orange and a banana together. And finally, melons should be eaten alone. This is mostly due to the idea that different fruits take different amounts of time to digest, so if you eat a banana which takes around a half hour in the stomach, with a melon, which takes about fifteen, the melon will start to ferment inside your stomach, waiting for the banana to empty into the small intestine.
Again, kind of not possible. With the extreme acid conditions in the stomach, and the very short amount of time fruit is spending in there, fermentation is completely impossible.
Now, I will say that some people do find that properly combining their fruit does help them, or that they feel adverse effects when they improperly combine. To that I say, you most likely have weak digestion. Our mothers breast milk was a combination of proteins, fats AND carbohydrates. Fruits all take relatively similar time to digest, and the stomach is the same acid environment, no matter what you have eaten. I believe that if you improve the strength of your digestive system, food combining should not be an issue for you! I combine all different types of fruit at almost all my meals, and they digest for me just as easily as when I eat a mono fruit meal.
If you are finding you are having difficulty digesting your fruit, I have a few suggestions that may help you!
1) Get a good probiotic. We are all exposed to environmental toxins, stress, free radicals, un-clean water and antibiotics. All of these things can throw off our balance of good bacteria in the gut, which is important for immunity, as well as good digestion.
Look for a human strain probiotic (meaning it was not fermented on milk) that has at least two or three different strains of bacteria and at least 50 billion cells per serving. I love Bio-K, but if you can’t find that, look into a professional brand;
Green juice is a power house of enzymes, chlorophyll and other essential vitamins and minerals that can help to re-build our own stores of enzymes, as well as being incredibly healing and cleansing for the digestive system. When we suffer from constipation, our colons might be collecting all of that un-excreted waste, which will directly affect how much nutrition you can absorb from your food. Also if there is a build up you could be re-absorbing all the toxins in the waste that should have been excreted, because it is just sitting there attached to your blood stream! No good! If you struggle with constipation at all, I say do green juice twice a day for a week, and then call me in the morning with how much better you feel.
3) Digestive Enzymes; To be taken with meals. Just for a short period of time, until your body starts to do the enzyme thing on its own. Look for one with some HCL in it too, if you have low stomach acid.
4) Milk Thistle The liver is a major digestive organ. It produces bile, it produces other biochemicals needed for digestion as well as helping to detoxify the body. Your digestion will suffer greatly if you have a damaged or less than optimally functioning liver. Milk Thistle is a herb that will not only clean out the liver, but actually help it to repair tissue! A properly functioning liver is a must for good digestion.
5)Rest, relaxation and yoga. It is really hard to digest when you are stressed. If you are stressed, you are in “fight or flight” mode, meaning your blood will be focusing on being in your extremities and away from your digestive organs, where you need it. Try not to eat in a rush, in a stressful environment, or while you are working. Yoga can help to calm the nervous system as well, which will help. There are also tonnes of postures that specifically address digestion!
So Ben, I do not food combine my fruit, and I do not seem to have a problem. I have done a tonne of clean up with my digestion though, so that could be why I do not have troubles!
Keep those questions coming guys, I love love love hearing from you.