Food Combining and Digestion

Paraphrased from Tips from Nadya Andreeva @ Spinach and Yoga

The simpler the dish, the less energy it requires to digest. Simplicity is a key in many effective concepts. Digestion is not different.

You don’t necessarily need to eliminate entire food groups to keep your belly happy. Going gluten free or vegan doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have to look into food combining, especially if you want to increase your energy levels.

Food combining can be applied to any diet to reduce postmeal digestive un-ease, improve elimination, resolve skin issues, and to increase energy levels.

A little on the energy and food connection...

Caffeine aside, we have a finite amount of energy for any given day. There are several major things that go into energy equation: sleep, emotions, movement, mental activity, and of course food.

• Sleep gives us energy

• Movement can be energizing due to increase in blood circulation and oxygen but in the end it requires energy. Different types of exercise can also be broken down into depleting and nourishing but more on it later

• Emotions have a very strong connection to energy levels. Positive emotions like joy are energizing while negative emotions can deplete energy reserves

• Mental activity requires quite a bit of energy. Clarity and creativity are not very common mental states in exhausted people

• Food is a double-edge sword. Easy-to-digest food will provide energy, hard to digest or nutrient poor food will require more energy to break down. Some food combinations will even have a negative net gain of energy. Eg: white bagel with cream cheese requires a lot of energy to digest, probably way more than it will provide to the body. Berries on the other hand is a certain quick energy gain

One of the ways to make sure that you get a positive net gain of energy from food is to eat nutrient-dense foods. Another way is to make sure that those nutrients can be easily absorbed into your body by keeping food combinations simple.

Food combination theories can be quite complicated to understand, and almost impossible to remember right away. However, there is one key rule that will save you a lot of memorizing: SIMPLICITY. The fewer ingredients the less different enzymes you need to digest food and the less likely the food will get stuck in our body fermenting. Simple meals are easier because they require less resources to break down and turn them into nutrients.

Another rule is to keep portions manageable. If you know that you will be eating a complicated meal consisting of hard-to-digest products, keep the amount small. It is easier to deal with a small problem rather than a large one.

Here are top 10 rules of food combining to experiment with:

1. The simpler, the better

2. Drink a little bit of hot water or herbal tea before a meal, a little bit during, and nothing after for at least 30 min. It prevents gastric juices from diluting and allows for better digestion

3. No fruits after a meal for 2-3 hours. Fruits require a lot less time to digest but if there is something in your stomach, they will sit there and ferment. It will give you an uncomfortable bloated feeling

4. Soak nuts overnight. It makes them less dry and easier to break down, they become a lot less heavy by nature. Ayurveda highly recommends soaking all nuts

5. Do not combine different types of protein in one meal. No fish and chicken, no nuts and dairy, or beans and meat. A meal of combined proteins will take 10-12 hours to digest if you have a strong digestion. Why would you want to voluntarily sign up for 12 hours of non-stop work?

6. Always add greens when having fats with proteins or starches. When fats are eaten with green vegetables the inhibiting effect of fats on gastric secretion is counteracted and digestion proceeds quite normally. Greens combine well with pretty much everything. Can’t go wrong with them! Leafy greens are your best friends

7. Let you body rest a few times a week by eating monomeals

8. Experiment mindfully! When in doubt about a certain food combination, try and pay attention to your body’s feedback. Your body knows better than any nutritionist

9. If having dairy milk, do not combine it with anything. Definitely no fruity milk shakes unless you are craving mucousy cuddled milk in your stomach

10. Keep it light, warm, and simple if tired or stressed. Healing and restoring requires energy, so does digestion. Be smart about how you use your energy resources

3 Ayurvedic Tips for Healthy Digestion

According to Ayurveda, healthy digestion is a cornerstone of good health. Efficient digestion nourishes the body and provides energy, while a sluggish heavy feeling in your stomach will make you dread your own existence. Unfortunately, many of us city dwellers suffer from digestion problems. Probiotics, antacids, heartburn pills, detox packs? every pharmacy and health food store has shelves upon shelves of digestive supplements.

Approximately 75 to 100 million Americans suffer from some sort of digestive troubles. According to The Consumer's Guide to Probiotics, Americans spend $725 million on laxatives each year and $200 million on probiotics. All this money could be spent on something a lot more enjoyable and fun if only our belly was healthy enough to do its job!

Ayurveda, an ancient science of health, offers some simple, time-proven tips on improving your digestive health and re-invigorating internal organs responsible for detoxification mechanisms.

1. Proper Food Combining - We all know that eating healthy foods will make us feel better, but proper foods in the wrong combination still form toxins, gases, and won?t digest well because different classes of food require their own specific digestive enzymes. When we consume different types of foods at a single meal we place a demand on our digestive glands to manufacture and secrete different digestive enzymes simultaneously. Many traditional American meals do this and it's not a good thing. For example, eating bananas with milk can diminish digestive fire, change the intestinal flora, produce toxins, and cause sinus congestion. This causes confusion in our system and results in serious imbalances.

The good news is that you can still eat great food! Here are some basic food guidelines to follow:

• Avoid mixing milk or yogurt with sour or citrus fruits. And, yes, it means that yogurt with fruit would not be considered a healthy breakfast choice by an ayurvedic practitioner!

• Melons should be eaten alone or left alone

• Try to eat fruits separately to get the most nutrients

• Avoid eating cooked and raw foods together

• Do not eat meat protein and milk protein together

• Do not mix fresh milk with other milk products. The action of hydrochloric acid in the stomach causes the milk to curdle. For this reason Ayurveda advises against taking milk with sour fruits, yogurt, sour cream, cheese, and fish

2. Add Some Lemon Juice (from a real lemon, not a plastic container!) - Lemon is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C on the planet and it also contains nutrients like Vitamin B, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Lemon juice with warm water can also help eliminate waste in your system and serve as a Liver tonic. Daily intake of lemon water has several health benefits: It keeps your stomach healthy; acts as cure for nausea, heartburn, indigestion, high blood pressure, stress, and depression. It gets better: you'll benefit from lemon?s anti-aging properties and heart friendly potassium. Use lemon in this yummy dressing or just add it to water or tea throughout the day.

3. Spice It Up with Ginger - Ginger is a must! Ginger is known as ?the universal medicine? for its versatility and healing properties. It increases agni (digestive fire), neutralizes toxins, and helps digestion, and absorption of food. Ginger brings a ton of spicy and sweet flavor to any dish, such as teas, soups, stews, and even appetizers. I can?t start my day without a cup of green tea with a handful of sliced fresh ginger and lemon -- it makes my belly very happy and keeps me full of energy the entire day!

10 Common Food Combinations That Wreak Havoc on Your Health

10 food combinations that are considered bad by Ayurveda, modern hygenists, and physiologists. Basically, no one in there right mind would ever think of eating these foods together if they knew what would happen in our digestive system. Some of the immediate consequences of bad food combinations are digestive un-ease, gas, bloating, stomach ache, nausea, fatigue, and problems with elimination. While short-term effects can clear up within a day or two, long-term food combining can lead to more severe problems like bad breath, dry skin, rashes, chronic inflammation, poor sleep, low energy, and chronic digestion issues. Most people feel a surge of energy and naturally lose weight once they start following several simple food combining rules.

Here are some popular items on the average American menu that present a big challenge to our body and can wreak havoc on your health:

1. Fruit after a meal. Natural Hygienists have known for a long time that fruit doesn’t combine well with other foods. The reason is that fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion. Thus, they will not stay for a long time in the stomach. Other foods, such as foods rich in fat, protein and starch, will stay in the stomach for a longer period of time because they require more digestion. So if you eat fruit after a meal, the fruit sugar will stay for too long in the stomach and ferment

2. Lasagna or Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Protein-starch combos inhibit salivary digestion of starch. Protein and starches need different enzymes and different levels of acidity to be digested. When eaten together, your body is forced to make a choice to digest protein but not starches. According to Dr Herbert Shelton, the champion of original Natural hygiene ideas, undigested starchy food undergoes fermentation and decomposition and overtime leads to poisonous end-products. Supposedly, adding greens to hard-to-digest cheesy dishes makes them easier for the stomach. Arugula salad, please!

3. Cheese and meat omelet. In general protein/protein combinations are not recommended. One single concentrated protein per meal is easier to digest and won’t require as much energy. Go for veggie omelet instead

4. Tomato and cheese pasta sauce. Tomatoes are considered acidic and are not advised to be mixed with starchy carbs such as pasta. Food combining theory recommends to avoid mixing carbohydrates with acids. Adding dairy to this already difficult combo turns it into a recipe for digestive problems and after-meal fatigue since your body will require a ton of energy to digest this meal. Have pasta with pesto and grilled veggies instead!

5. Cereal or oatmeal with milk and orange juice. Acids in orange juice or any acid fruits destroy the enzyme that is responsible for digesting starches present in cereal. Also, acidic fruits or juices can curdle milk and turn it into a heavy mucus-forming substance. To keep your breakfast healthy, try having fruit or orange juice 30 min before the oatmeal

6. Beans and cheese. Dairy protein and beans is a common combo in any Mexican restaurant. Eaten with a hearty serving of guacamole and hot sauce, it is almost guaranteed to lead to gas and bloating. It is not the beans on their own that cause it, but the combination as a whole. Try skipping cheese and tomatoes if you have a weak digestion or working on detoxifying your body

7. Melon and Prosciutto. Melons should be eaten alone or left alone. The same rule goes for all high sugar fruits. In general, it is preferred to eat fruits separately from proteins or starches, especially if you are looking for a quick energy boost from a fruit

8. Bananas and milk. Ayurveda lists this combination as one of the heaviest and toxin-forming. It is said to create heaviness in the body and slow down the mind. If you are a fan of milk-based banana smoothies make sure that banana is very ripe and add cardamom and nutmeg to stimulate digestion

9. Yogurt with fruit. Ayurveda and food combining theory, don’t advise mixing any sour fruits with dairy as it can diminish digestive fire, change the intestinal flora, produce toxins and cause sinus congestion, cold, cough and allergies. Ayurveda suggests avoiding congestive and digestive fire dampening foods like cold yogurt mixed with fruits. However, if you can’t resist the temptation of a yogurt parfait, there are ways to make it more digestion friendly. First of all, go for a room temperature natural unflavored yogurt. Secondly, mix a little bit of honey, cinnamon, and raisins instead of sour berries

10. Lemon Dressing on Cucumber and Tomato Salad - Nightshades such as potatoes, chillies, eggplant, and tomatoes are not supposed to be combined with cucumbers. While lemon does not go well with either

Of course, everyone has a different body and will experience various levels of sensitivity to bad food combinations. Many people attribute digestive problems and allergies to particular foods while in reality it is the combination of foods that is to blame. Also, many of us are so used to digestive discomfort that we don't know what it feels like not to experience it. Everything becomes clear in comparison. If you follow simple food combination rules for 2 weeks and let your digestive system rest, your digestion will be a lot more efficient and stronger. Cravings will subside, there will be more energy.

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