Monday, November 27, 2006

Proper Food Combining Can Dramatically Improve Your Health

Why Food Combining is Important

When it comes to cooking healthy, beginning with the right foods is a must. Certain foods are most beneficial when eaten in the right combinations. Certain other foods may even prevent absorption of vitamins and minerals if not eaten in the proper combination, sometimes even wreaking havoc on your digestive system. In some people it can cause serious weight gain. In many cases, when people eat wrong combinations of foods they can suffer indigestion, bloating, and foul smelling gas - all of which are indications of fermentation or putrefaction occurring in their digestive system. Quite a few foods won't digest in combination with other foods, and some things we eat don't digest at all. Pickles and olives are prime examples of foods that won't digest well in our system, and in fact pass through the body undigested similar to the way a small pebble or a penny would. It is important to our overall health to choose healthy combinations of foods, and to learn which foods digest well together, and which foods don't.

Basic Food Combining

The main rule of thumb is that carbohydrates and proteins should be taken into the body separately. This is mainly because these two food types are digested in completely different ways. When eating carbohydrates, the body begins working on the food immediately, while it is being chewed. Saliva acts as to "pre-digest" the sugars in the food, working to break down the carbohydrates before they are introduced into the stomach. The saliva used to break down carbohydrates is entirely different from the saliva produced while eating a high protein meal.
When protein is eaten, the saliva has a different job, which wets the food with slippery substances that enable the food to pass easily into the stomach, where the digestive acids go to work on breaking down the protein. If carbohydrates and proteins are eaten together, the body enters a state of confusion, unable to sort through mingled foods in the mouth in order to facilitate the breaking down of carbohydrates, and they will most likely pass into the stomach with the protein. Once in the stomach, the gastric acid will have trouble properly digesting the protein due to the presence of undigested carbohydrates. At this point, the undigested mass of food will quite often sit in the stomach for many hours, causing the carbohydrates to ferment and the protein to putrify.

You can basically eat whatever you want while still eating the right food combinations. The key factor in combining foods properly is knowing which foods can be combined, and which food combinations will cause improper digestion. There are many ways to catagorize the foods in which you eat, but the main categories should be proteins, carbohydrates, and neutrals. Make a list of your favorite foods, separated into the three categories. Proteins would be foods such as cooked chicken, beef, lamb, or cooked meats, milk, eggs whites, low fat cheese, some fruit, wine, beans (legumes), and fish. Carbohydrates would be cereals, grains, sugars, breads, potatoes, rice, bananas, and dried fruits. Neutral foods are those which are either rich in both protein and carbohydrates, or are low in both protein and carbohydrates, and can therefore be used as meal enhancers when putting together a balanced meal, and can be foods such as milk products, fatty cheeses (over 60% fat content) raw meats and fish, vegetables, salad, coffee, and tea. Make a list of your favorite foods, separating them into the three categories. Experiment with different food combinations and discover how creative you can be, and you may even start to see some extra pounds falling off!