The Benefits Of Food Combining
Food is our fuel that helps heal and nourish the body. The foods we eat, when we eat them, and how we pair them play a vital role in, optimizing digestion, conserving energy, and maximizing our body’s potential.
This philosophy is known as food combining. Foods are separated into different categories: carbs, starches, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats. Some groups pair well together, while some do not. For instance, starches combined with proteins may have an adverse effect on the digestive system, potentially leading to disease and stomach distress.
Food combining has roots as far back as 100 A.D., but it has become very popular in recent years.
Food pairing principles first appeared in the Ayurvedic medicine of ancient India. According to Ayurveda theory, when various foods of different taste and energy are combined, the agni (“gastric fire”) can become overloaded, resulting in poor digestion and production of toxins in the system. The better we assimilate our food, the less likely we are to form such adverse health issues.
Guidelines of Food Combining
With food combining, there are two important principles to understand: digestion speed and the relationship of pH levels and enzymes.
Certain foods are digested at different speeds. Combining a fast-digesting food with a slow-digesting food can cause a “traffic jam” in your digestive tract, leading to bloating, indigestion, and fatigue.
Different foods require different enzymes to be broken down and these enzymes work at different levels of acidity in your stomach. When two foods require different pH levels, the body can have difficulty properly digesting both at the same time.
These principles are essential in understanding food combining and will help you experience better health and digestion.
Combining A Few Rules
First, it’s important to keep meals simple. Think about the food you eat as data. You want to keep the data as basic as possible so there is less for the body to decode. Less decoding means better absorption in the body.
In order to properly combine foods, there are a few basic rules to follow:
Eat fruit only on an empty stomach
Fruit doesn’t sit in your stomach to digest. Fruits move through the body fast, digesting in only 20-30 minutes. Combining a banana with a starch or protein may cause a “back up” in your gut because it takes extra time for the body to process slower moving foods. For breakfast, just stick to fruit. Fruits with higher acidity like grapefruit, apples, or pineapple digest better when eaten together. Melons, on the other hand, should always be eaten alone with no other fruits.
Don’t combine starches + proteins
Let’s say you have a starch for lunch, you should wait at least three hours before you have any protein. Carbs are broken down by an enzyme called amylase, while proteins are processed by another enzyme, pepsin. Because these enzymes have different pH levels, they neutralize digestive juices, so your body requires extra energy to digest them. It’s perfectly fine to have those carbs and starches, just consider not mixing them with protein.
Vegetables go with everything
Load up on the veggies! As we all know, vegetables contain vital vitamins, minerals, and fiber essential for our health and well-being. Pertaining to food combining, vegetables are a neutral food, so you can pair them with proteins, starches, and carbs. Carrots, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower are versatile veggies that partner well with all grain or protein sources. Also, a nice spinach salad with beets and some kale is a tasty addition to any lunch or dinner.
Start light, move to heavy
Within the principles of food combining, we digest foods like fruits at a rapid pace, while proteins process at a much slower rate. So, in order to aid digestion and prevent bloating, meals should be structured from light to heavy. For instance, start with fruits (ideally seasonal) for breakfast, move to starches or grains for lunch, and then have your protein for dinner. This will create an ideal “freeway” system in your stomach, helping foods move in a smooth, orderly fashion.
What are the main benefits of food combining?
By pairing the right foods together, correct pH levels permit enzymes to function properly, allowing for optimum digestion.
As your body processes meals efficiently, food won’t ferment in the stomach, which is known to cause bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort.
When less energy is exerted on breaking down food, more energy is utilized and transferred throughout the entire body. According to wellness expert and social influencer, Kenzie Burke, food combining has made all the difference in her life.
“Food combining changed everything for me. It changed my energy levels, body, and mindset around food. It made me realize that food is fuel and an essential resource for our bodies. I started to look at food as nourishment and a form of energy. When you feel good on the inside, nothing else matters. Food combining helped me feel good about the daily choices I was making around my food and not only did I start to feel good－I started to thrive. I will follow the principles of food combining for the rest of my life and I love sharing this little piece of gold with the rest of the world!”
Try this simple meal plan for the day.
Have a fruit smoothie loaded with berries or a bowl of fresh melon.
Lunch (Grains + Veggies):
Avocado toast is a satisfying lunch idea that combines “good” fat with nutritious, delicious whole grains.
Enjoy some chia seed pudding or a delicious Sunflower Butter + Chocolate MacroBar!
Dinner (Protein + Veggies):
For dinner, add plenty of veggies! Combine broccoli or cauliflower with quinoa, rice, or lentils for a tasty vegan meal.
Combining It All
The average person will consume around 70 tons of food in their lifetime. That’s a lot of food, and a lot of energy used in order to break it down. Combining the right foods not only optimizes digestion, but it conserves the body’s energy and redirects it towards other functions like building skin collagen, repairing tissue cells, and fighting disease.
Leading The Way
When it comes to promoting plant-based lifestyles, Kenzie Burke and Dr. Mona Vand are two well known experts; both sharing a commitment to nutrition and a fresh perspective on food combining. If you’re looking to be inspired and motivated, consider following their lead.
Kenzie Burke is a plant-based, wellness advocate dedicated to self-discovery through diet and healthy lifestyle choices. With over 100,000 Instagram followers, Kenzie uses her platform to promote nutrition, self-care strategies, exercise, and food combining to help people transform their lives. Check out Kenzie’s 21 Day Reset.
Dr. Mona Vand
Dr. Mona Vand is a pharmacist turned wellness influencer and entrepreneur with a passion to help people maximize their health and happiness. At the forefront of plant-based living, Dr. Vand brings a modern view on the importance of nutrition, food combining, and fitness.