Unlocking the Art of Food Combining: Enhancing Digestion and Health through Strategic Eating” – Explore the science and benefits of food combining, a time-tested approach to optimizing digestion and overall well-being. Discover the synergy between different food groups and learn how thoughtful combinations can support your dietary choices.
What is Food?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), food is defined as “any substance that is consumed to provide nutritional support for the body”. It can be sourced from plants, animals, or fungi, and can be consumed in its raw or cooked form, as well as in processed or unprocessed states. It is very important to know the scientific aspects of food, including its composition and classification, as it is crucial for ensuring a balanced and nutritious diet that supports optimal health and well-being.
What is Food Combining?
The process of food combining is an eating pattern with centuries-old roots that takes into account how blending different food categories at meals impacts your digestion and overall health. In other words, food combination is the practice of combining certain foods in a meal in order to optimize digestion and absorption of nutrients. The idea behind food combining is that different types of foods require different digestive environments in the stomach, and combining certain foods can lead to digestive issues such as bloating and gas. Food combining diets typically categorize foods into different groups and provide guidelines on how to combine these groups in a meal. The philosophy of food combining comes from Ayurvedic diets, dating back to consumption patterns in ancient India, and gained popularity in the mid-1800s under the term “trophology” or “the science of food combining.” It was further revived in the early 1900s by the Hay Diet and has since become popular in the health and wellness community. Food combining can be a beneficial strategy for managing digestive problems such as gas, bloating, acid reflux, and even supporting weight loss.
Good Food Combinations
Seeing this long list of combinations of food that are unfavourable, we may wonder what combinations of food are actually good. Upon examining the extensive list of unfavourable food combinations, one may question if there are any remaining combinations that can be deemed beneficial. However, through further investigation into food combining, it becomes evident that there are indeed favourable combinations of food. Therefore, when creating a meal menu, it is important to consider the potential benefits of incorporating these good combinations. By focusing on implementing positive food combinations, the negative ones can be effectively disregarded.
Combining Protein and Fat
The natural combination of nutrients in high-protein foods is the pairing of protein and fat. Protein and fat coexist in nearly all food sources, albeit often in small quantities. A notable advantage of fat in terms of nutrition is its ability to slow down gastric function, providing additional time and effort for the digestion of accompanying protein. However, the protein-fat combination is typically observed in diets that primarily consist of a single food type or as part of other combinations, such as the combination of protein, fat, and starch. Examples of protein and fat combinations include grilled chicken with avocado, salmon with olive oil, yoghurt with nuts, and eggs cooked in coconut oil.
Combining Starch and Fat
The digestion process of starch is intricate and begins with pre-digestion in the mouth through the action of the enzyme ptyalin. However, ptyalin is susceptible to the presence of acids, and fats, being fatty acids, can affect its activity. Fats also possess antioxidants that prevent rancidity. While fats can inhibit or diminish the salivary enzyme’s reaction, their presence in the stomach actually improves digestion by prolonging the process.
The presence of fat slows down the peristaltic motion of the stomach wall, allowing starch to remain in the stomach for a longer duration, thereby facilitating enhanced digestion. Combining starchy and fatty foods can be beneficial for digestion, provided that the overall acidity level of the fat is not excessively high. Overall, this combination is considered favourable. Examples of starch-fat combinations include bread and butter, bread with avocado, spaghetti and butter, potatoes dressed in oil, rice cooked in oil, mashed potatoes with home-made mayonnaise, and chips/French fries (which consist of potatoes cooked in fat).
Combining Fat and Acid
The digestion of concentrated fats, such as those used in deep-frying or as cooking oils, can be challenging. Excessive fat consumption or impaired digestion can result in prolonged stomach retention, causing discomfort. However, acid and fat create a beneficial combination. Acidic substances, like lemon juice or vinegar, help emulsify and dissolve fats, making them easier to digest. Drinking lukewarm water with a little lemon juice can provide relief.
Examples of fat-acid combinations include avocado with lemon juice, an oil-based dressing with wine, vinegar fatty fish with lemon juice, nuts and acidic fruit, cheese and acidic fruit, cheese and tomato.
In conclusion, the concept of food combining suggests that certain combinations of foods can either enhance or hinder digestion and overall health. Embracing the wisdom of food combining slowly helps us to cultivate a refined awareness around how our dietary choices affect us. This heightened sensitivity can be an invaluable asset, regardless of how quickly we are able to replace improper food combinations with more supportive ones. It is important to note that individual responses to food combinations may vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. Factors such as personal tolerance, digestive health, and overall diet play a significant role in how our bodies process and utilize nutrients. While some food combinations, may potentially lead to digestive discomfort or negative health effects. However, the impact of these combinations on overall health may depend on the specific types and amounts of foods consumed.
Anmol Giri, Jashanpreet Singh (Undergraduate students with specialization in Dairy Technology) Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, Punjab