Monday, August 27, 2012

Basic Food Combining, Part 4

Here are the combinations that are best compatible with the human digestive system.  Although these combinations are commonly eaten, they are also often followed by the symptoms of indigestion.  Familiarize yourself with them, and soon, selecting compatible food combinations will be easily attained.

Acid/ Starch Combination.  All acids destroy the starch-splitting enzyme, salivary amylase.  This includes the acids contained in fruits and the acetic acid contained in vinegar.  Also, the fruits will be detained in the stomach, resulting in fermentation.

Protein / Starch Combination.  As stated earlier, salivary amylase is destroyed in the stomach in the presence of a highly acidic medium.  Since protein digestion requires such a medium, this combination is unacceptable.  Because this combination is commonly eaten, it may be a factor why food combining has not been recognized by conventional nutritionists as it contradicts many of our typical meals.

Protein / Protein Combinations.  Each type of protein food requires different timing and different modifications of the digestive secretions.  When one protein is combined with another protein, digestion becomes difficult.  As protein is the most difficult food nutrient for the body to digest anyway, we would benefit by consuming only one type of protein at a meal.  This would not include the eating of two or more types of nuts at a meal, as their composition is relatively similar.  Recent data concerning protein needs has shown that it is unnecessary to consume all essential amino acids at each meal.

Acid/ Protein Combination.  The renowned physiologist, Pavlov, demonstrated the influence of acids upon digestion.  The enzyme, pepsin, necessary for protein digestion, will only be active in the presence of one particular acid, hydrochloric acid.  Other acids may actually destroy this enzyme, including fruit acids.  Also, when fruits are eaten with proteins, the fruits will be detained in the stomach until completion of protein digestion, resulting in their fermentation.  There is an exception to this rule: The proteins such as nuts, seeds, and cheese, do not decompose as rapidly as other proteins, due to their high fat content. This distinction makes it acceptable to eat acid fruits with nuts, seeds, or cheese.

Fat / Protein Combination. As mentioned earlier, fats inhibit the flow of gastric juice, interfering with protein digestion.  Dr. Herbert Shelton referred to this in his book, Food Combining Made Easy (first published in 1951) by quoting from McLeed’s Physiology In Modern Medicine: “Fat has been shown to exert a distinct inhibiting influence on the secretion of gastric juice… the presence of oil in the stomach delays the secretion of juice poured out on a subsequent meal of otherwise readily digestible food.”  Since our need for fat is very little, and most protein foods already contain fat, any additional fat intake becomes difficult to digest.  Avoid combining butter, oils, etc. with protein foods.

(Fruit Eating will be our topic in Part 5 for posting next week – J.P.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Basic Food Combining, Part 3

A second factor to consider in the digestive process is that each cavity contains its own distinctive secretions to carry on its specific work of digestion.  And at each stage of this process, digestion proceeds more or less efficiently depending upon the conditions present at each stage.  In other words, the efficiency of digestion in the intestines is dependent upon the work done in the mouth and stomach.  It is a sequential operation.  For example, if pepsin, the enzyme secreted in the stomach during the first stage of protein digestion, has not converted these proteins into peptones due to unfavorable conditions present in the stomach, then erepsin, the enzyme secreted in the intestine, will not be able to carry on the final stage of protein digestion – that of converting the peptones into amino acids.  Each stage of digestion must not be interfered with, if we desire efficient digestion.

A third factor concerns the emptying time of the stomach into the intestine.  Fruits remain in the stomach an hour or less when eaten alone.  Starches require two to three hours to complete gastric digestion.  And proteins require approximately four hours.  Complex foods, such as dried beans, are difficult to digest, requiring five to six hours to complete gastric digestion.  The important point is this: If a food remains in the stomach longer than is normally required, due to an incompatible combination, the food will likely decompose and nutrition is impaired.

Considering the factors of digestion, we may appreciate the importance of food combining and the potential of creating two very distinct situations when eating: one being digestion and nutrient enhancement; the other being decomposition of the food, a form of self-poisoning.

If carbohydrates are not digested, they ferment, producing poisons such as carbon dioxide, acetic acid, lactic acid, and alcohol.  And the most important thing to remember is that the alcohol produced has the same potential for destruction of the liver and other organs, as commercial alcohol. When proteins are not digested, they putrefy, producing poisons known as ptomaines.

Anytime two or more foods are eaten at the same meal, each one requiring opposite conditions for their digestion, the digestive process becomes less than efficient.  Sometimes digestion is totally suspended.

The responsibility for harmonious digestion rests with each of us.  Failure to observe the limitations of human digestion results in mild to severe indigestion and is very likely to be a contributing factor in causing disease.

(Incompatible combinations of food will be fully discussed next week in Part 4 – J.P.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Basic Food Combining, Part 2

Let's discuss a common objection to "food combining," stated as follows: All foods are composed of various nutritive materials and yet the human body is capable of digesting them.  It seems that "nature" does not observe food combining principles.  

The answer to this objection is this:  The human digestive system is capable of adjusting itself to the digestion of individual natural foods, with appropriate timing of various enzymes and digestive juices.  However, when two or more foods are combined haphazardly, the digestive limitations are exceeded and digestion is inevitably impaired.

Digestion Explained.  Digestion is the process by which the complex materials of food are broken down into simpler substances in preparation for their entrance into the bloodstream.  For example, proteins are broken down into various amino acids; carbohydrates, composed of starches and sugars, are converted to glucose, a simple sugar; and fats are broken down into fatty acids.  The body is then able to use these simpler materials to build new tissue.

The digestive track may be conveniently divided into three cavities - the mouth, the stomach, and the small intestines.  Regarding the practical application of food combining principles, the conditions present in the mouth and stomach will be our primary concern.  However, the efficiency of digestion, as it continues in the small intestines, is greatly dependent upon the work done in the mouth and stomach.

When food enters the mouth, it is masticated and mixed with saliva, initiating the digestive process.  Appropriate digestive juices are also secreted here, according to the type of food ingested.  If the food contains starch, then an enzyme, salivary amylase, is also secreted at this time.  This enzyme is active only in the presence of starch.

After leaving the mouth, the food passes down the esophagus and into the stomach.  Here, gastric juice is secreted, containing primarily hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes.  The concentration of hydrochloric acid varies, depending on the type of food ingested.  Protein requires a highly acidic medium for the digestive enzyme, pepsin, to be effective.  Starches and fats, however, require a nearly neutral medium for their digestion.  In fact, salivary amylase is actually destroyed in the presence of a highly acidic gastric juice.  And the enzyme, gastric lipase, secreted for fat digestion, is also inhibited in its work in the presence of a highly acidic medium.  These distinctions represent a significant factor in complicating digestion.

(In Part 3, we will be discussing other factors of digestion to appreciate the importance of food combining and its contributing factor in causing disease. - J.P.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Basic Food Combining, Part 1

Food combining refers to combinations of food which are compatible with each other in digestive chemistry.  The goal of food combining is to aid the digestive process which starts in the mouth.

We will discuss both compatible and incompatible food combinations that will guide us in selecting compatible food menus.  By applying these principles, nutrition will be enhanced as only food which is digested is capable of nourishing us.  And we avoid indigestion, along with its unpleasant symptoms.

Efficient digestion has a good effect on the body's energy level.  The energy used up to digest three conventional meals has been estimated to be equivalent to eight hours of "working" energy.  By selecting compatible food combinations, the digestive task is lessened, allowing more energy for other activities.

"The discomforts of indigestion are so common that it's almost considered normal.  And the incidence of various diseases of the digestive tract are increasing at an alarming rate," says researcher, Dennis Nelson, who suffered much from indigestion.  "Rather than use drugs to suppress the symptoms of indigestion, it would be wiser to remove the causes of the indigestion.  And then, apply those practices which favor good digestion," Nelson advises.

The Rationale For Food Combining.  Throughout the century, physiologists have been conducting experiments relating to the digestion of food.  They observed that the efficiency of digestion is dependent upon the types of food combined at a meal.  However, this information needed to be transferred from the laboratory to the kitchen if people were to benefit from it.  This was accomplished by the doctors of the "natural hygiene" philosophy.  They concluded that the human digestive system works best when meals are simple and combinations are minimal.  This results in the principle of "food combining," which stresses the importance of both simplicity and compatibility in meal planning.

The good thing about food combining is that everyone may benefit from it.  The digestive system works fundamentally the same for all of us.  This is not to deny the fact that individuals vary in their capacity to digest food, but rather to dispute the argument that food combining principles are only helpful to particular people.

Although food combining will aid the digestive process considerably, it will not guarantee good digestion.  There are other factors which may reduce our digestive capacity, such as overeating, eating under stressful conditions, eating when fatigued, eating just before or soon after strenuous exercise, and eating during strong emotional experiences, all hinder the digestive process.

(In Part 2, we will discuss a common objection to food combining and how the digestive process works. - J.P.)