Do you ever eat certain foods and then wish you didn't? Is there a specific food that for whatever reason doesn't seem to agree with you?
If you've answered YES, you are not alone.
In 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that almost 4 million Australians reported avoiding a food type due to intolerance or allergy. I myself was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease back in 2004 (a long time before food labeling laws were introduced in Australia). Thankfully the food industry has changed a great deal since then, however as the research has shown, more and more people are experiencing food intolerance's of some kind.
This article isn't about food allergies or intolerance's as such, rather this is here to shed some light on how to combine certain foods for maximum health - and what foods should be kept separate! You might just find that those issues with certain foods can be kept at bay following these guidelines!
Essentially, the food we give our bodies is the fuel which is going to keep us going. We all know that what we put in is what we get out. In order to keep our minds' and bodies' healthy we know we should eat organic (wherever possible), enjoy a wide variety of fresh and unprocessed foods and drink plenty of water.
So here's the thing - are you doing all of the above (mostly), yet you still feel bloated, lethargic and somewhat ill? Or experience headaches, constipation or indigestion? It may NOT be the food itself, rather the WAY you are eating them. It's equally important to know HOW these foods should best be combined to provide maximum health benefits.
Here are 8 simple guidelines to follow that will benefit anyone, regardless of whether they are experiencing health issues or not.
Eat Fruit Before Other Foods or On Their Own
Of all the food groups, fruit is the easiest to digest. They only remain in the stomach for a short period of time (providing the fruit is ripe to allow for easy digestion). If you combine fruit with things like cereals and breads, it remains in the stomach until all the other food is ready to leave - and while it waits, it begins to ferment. To absorb the maximum nutrients from fruit, it is best to be consumed at least 30 minutes before a meal (or 2-3 hours after a meal which contains meat).
Drink Milk Alone
Casein is the protein found in milk and it enters the stomach then begins to clot in the presence of rennin. If any food particles are present, the clotted materials slow the enzymes from digesting the food. Therefore, drinking milk with food upsets the balance of the digestive juices - so be mindful of how this could be affecting you... Think smoothies, cereal etc...Although I am not lactose intolerant, I certainly feel completely different when I drink cows milk (compared to almond milk, coconut milk etc). I now try to limit my chai latte intake to 2 per week - because you know much I love cinnamon and spices, and we don't want to deprive ourselves now do we!
Acidic Foods & Starchy Foods Should Not Be Eaten Together
What does this mean? The way we digest starch is through an enzyme in the mouth - Ptyalin. Some acidic foods can inhibit Ptyalin's action which will cause the starch to sit in the stomach and ferment. Starchy foods include grains, potato, bread and pumpkin and they digest WELL with other vegetables. Some acidic foods to stay away from when eating starches include vinegar, lemon, tomatoes, orange, grapefruit, sour cream and olives.
Avoid Protein-Rich Foods & Starch Foods Together
When we digest protein food, our stomach becomes acidic. As starchy foods don't require this much acidity, the starch foods remain undigested and they begin to ferment. These are a few examples of poor food combinations in this group: Red meat with potatoes and rice; Fish and chips; Creamy Pasta with chicken.
If these 2 food groups MUST be combined in a single meal, it's best to eat the protein component first to allow the acid levels to work.
Limit the Protein Portion of a Meal to One Type of Protein
The reason behind this is simply to avoid feeling bloated or extremely full after a meal.
Different types of proteins require different acid levels for efficient digestion.
The pH scale is 0 - 7 (0=Acid and 7=Neutral)
Nuts, seeds and some legumes require a pH of 5.
Cheese and eggs digest at a pH level of around 3.5.
Meat requires a pH of 2.
So you can see here how mixing certain foods is acceptable (ie nuts and seeds), however others like meat and cheese would decrease our ability to digest efficiently.
Avoid Protein-Rich Foods & Sugary Foods Together
When we mix these foods, the sugar ferments in our stomach waiting for the protein to digest. This fermentation produces gas which then causes symptoms of pain, burping and flatulence.
I must admit, I am a culprit here as I do like to snack on dried fruit and nuts. It's one of those things that seems like a healthy choice (and yes, it is much better than some alternative options), however we're not really doing our gut much of a favour!
Eat Melons Alone
Yep, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but how many of you like to mix watermelon and other melons to your juices or smoothies (hand goes up!) Melons have a high water content and when they are consumed with other foods (including fruits) the water dilutes the digestive juices and our digestion becomes impaired. While waiting in the stomach for the other food to digest, the sugar content in the melons will ferment.
Avoid Drinking With Meals
When we eat and drink at the same time, we are diluting the stomach juices concentration. This affects the digestive juices and prevents proper digestion from taking place. Wherever possible, you should avoid drinking half and hour before meals and at least one hour afterwards. Don't be confused with this one, as soups and foods that contain a naturally high water content are fine.
How many times do you start a meal, take a big gulp of water and then moments later you suddenly feel really full? This is because we are changing our bodies natural process of digestion!
I hope this has shed some light on how to combine (and avoid) certain foods to achieve maximum health benefits. It's not about becoming super strict with your diet, rather bringing awareness to what is happening internally and how this translates externally.
It is important to note that you should always thoroughly investigate your symptoms with a qualified healthcare professional to rule out serious health issues associated with digestive disturbances.
Love & Light
xx Sandra Stoitis xx