Food and the Digestive System
Food is the fuel we require to stay alive. To use food properly and assimilate the essential nutrients present in it, our digestive system needs to break the food that we eat into smaller components. We can enjoy the numerous benefits of various foods only when our digestive system is working properly.
Different foods require different conditions in the stomach and different enzymes for proper digestion. For instance, proteins require acidic juices for digestion, while carbohydrates require alkaline juices. When the different juices are used simultaneously, they neutralize the effect of one other and retard digestion. The result is that the food we eat is not digested properly, and food particles seep into in crevices located in the intestinal tract. These leftover food particles, over time, ferment and putrefy. This in turn can lead to various health problems such as bloating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, cramps, flatulence, and malabsorption. Moreover, the leftover food particles become ‘food’ for harmful bacteria, which in turn can cause many other health problems.
To ensure complete absorption of the food we eat, we don’t need to understand the intricacies of the digestion process. The knowledge about which food type should be eaten with another, and the implementation of proper food combining techniques is sufficient to ensure proper digestion and assimilation of essential nutrients.
Food combining for weight loss
Food combining for weight loss is a simple, yet very effective way to ensure that the body burns fat properly. The idea is to eat certain foods together to aid digestion while avoiding other foods in the same meal.
Benefits of a food combining diet
Here’s a look at some of the benefits of a food combining diet:
- Enables the body to burn fat effectively
- Prevents accumulation of undigested food particles in the intestine
- Prevents digestive problems such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, heartburn
- Improves energy levels and vitality
To incorporate proper food combining techniques, it is essential to know about the different types of food and which food type can be used with the other.
On the basis of how food is digested, it is divided into the following four groups:
Food Group 1 – Proteins
Protein-rich foods include: eggs, fish, meat, milk, soybeans, soya products, tofu, nuts, cheese, yogurt, and shellfish.
Food Group 2 – Carbohydrates
Foods that are rich in carbohydrates include: rice, maize, pasta, oats, millet, honey, potatoes, starchy vegetables, sweets, grain products, bread, biscuits, cakes, and pastries.
Food Group 3 – Non-starchy vegetables
This group contains non-starchy vegetables, salads, fresh herbs, butter, seeds, cream, olive oil (cold-pressed), and spreading fats.
Food Group 4 – All fruits
Fruits are further categorized into four categories: acidic fruits, sub-acidic fruits, sweet fruits, and melons.
Acidic fruits include: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, pineapples, tangerines, pomegranates, etc.
Sub-acidic fruits include: mango, apples, papaya, plums, kiwi, peaches, berries, etc.
Sweet fruits include: figs, dates, bananas, prunes, dried fruits, etc.
Melons include: casaba, watermelon, muskmelon, honeydew, etc.
- Foods belonging to Group 1 (proteins) should not be eaten with foods that fall in Group 2 (carbohydrates).
- Group 3 foods (non-starchy vegetables) can be eaten with either Group 1 foods or Group 2 foods.
- Group 4 foods (fruits) should only be eaten alone. Furthermore, acidic fruits can be eaten with sub-acid fruits, but not with sweet fruits. Sub-acid fruits can be eaten with acid fruits, as well as sweet fruits. However, sweet fruits should not be eaten with acidic fruits. Lastly, melons should not be eaten with any other type of fruit.
- Our body takes four hours to completely digest proteins. That is why you should not eat carbohydrates for three hours after consuming a protein-rich meal.
- Carbohydrates are digested by our body in two hours. So, if you have eaten a carbohydrate-rich meal, then you must give a gap of two hours before eating a protein-rich meal.
- It is best to eat fruits on an empty stomach. Do not consume fruits for at least three hours after eating other foods. Also, do not consume a meal after eating fruits for at least 30 minutes.
Figures 1 and 2 illustrate which food type should be combined with another: