Myth: You need to follow food combining principles for optimal digestion
Fad diets are everywhere, I don’t need to tell you that again. But is food combining a fad diet? Or is there some truth to the rumours.
Advocates for the food combining principles claim that it is necessary for optimal digestion. They claim, as different enzymes in the body are used to digest different foods, eating protein and carbohydrates together for example will cause digestive issues.
They claim that eating foods together will leave you with partially digested food that sits in your gut, basically claiming the body is unable to digest two different things at once.
Fact: Your digestive system is more complex than this ‘diet’ suggests
While this ‘diet’ doesn’t lead to the elimination of any food, just focusing on eating one food group at a time. It is still a diet, leading to obsession over food and well I think we all know my opinion of diets….
But my bias aside, lets dig into the actual facts so you can determine what works for you.
Food Combining principles suggest that the digestion system is very black and white. While one type of food is being digested, nothing else can be digested because it requires different enzymes.
For example, the enzyme amylase works to digest carbohydrates meanwhile proteases are needed to break down proteins. And while carbohydrates are being digested it means that protein sits around in the digestive system waiting its turn, causing it to ferment and create issues for your body.
However, the digestion system is not a sack as this theory might suggest, it is a track or a process. Digestion happens over multiple hours after consuming a food, starting with enzymes and chewing in the mouth going down to the acid in the stomach and enzymes within the small and large intestines which continue the digestion process.
The body is an amazing thing, it runs multiple, even thousands of processes at once. It allows you to breathe, pump blood through your arteries, move muscles in your hands as you type, run messages allow neural pathways from your brain all around your body and digest the food you ate a few hours ago.
Your digestive system alone has the ability to digest carbohydrates, fats and protein all at the same time. It is true that the process of all of these takes different lengths of time, but eating them separately will not make this process faster.
So whilst the basis of why people food combine is important – to increase your optimal digestion, eating different foods at different times is not going to do this. Instead to look after your digestive system is it more beneficial to focus on mindful eating, allowing yourself to chew food properly, eating slowing and eating lots of fibre rich and prebiotic rich foods for a healthy digestive track.