See the photo above? Much to my friend’s surprise, this was not a stock photo from the internet which I had sent her; it was my home made breakfast on Monday. Looks pretty good, right? But looks can be deceiving, for I have committed a food crime: combining proteins with carbs. Ooops.
Turns out, the combination of foods you eat, and the order you eat them in, plays a key role in your health.
Food combining (also known as trophology) is an approach to nutrition that‘ advocates specific combinations of foods as central to good health and weight loss (such as not mixing carbohydrate-rich foods and protein-rich foods in the same meal)’.
Founded by Herbert Shelton in 1951, the underlying principle of the diet is to maintain an acid-alkaline balance in the stomach. This balance is central to a healthy functioning body. Certain foods, when eaten together produce acid in the stomach, leading to indigestion, and at the extreme, ill-health.
So what crime was my breakfast guilty of?
According to trophology, certain foods, when eaten together, delay or prevent the activation of key enzymes. For example, the enzyme pepsin is required to breakdown protein, but in the presence of carbohydrates in the stomach, pepsin cannot be released. In my breakfast, absorbing protein from the eggs and bacon would have been derailed, because of my toast.
The following chart is an overview of the basic rules concerning food combining. How many sins are you guilty of?
Dismissed by traditional practitioners
Medical experts in the West consider trophology a pseudo-science. In a weight loss study comparing a food combining diet to a balanced diet, no major differences were observed.
Much like other forms of alternative medicine, food combining isn’t taught in med school. But that shouldn’t necessarily lessen its credibility, especially when considering its principles are founded on scientific facts (e.g. secretion of pepsin in the absence of carbohydrates).
Not to be a Debbie-downer, but there’s more. If like me, you eat fruit after a meal, you’re doing it all wrong.
Fruit is meant to be consumed on an empty stomach. It digests faster than other foods (see diagram below), entering the intestines quite rapidly. When consumed after a meal, fruit combines with other foods in the gut and becomes acidic. This leads to bloating, indigestion and other side effects.
During the writing of this blog, I snacked on pineapple chunks, an hour after eating greek yogurt. Was I bloated? Yes.
The final word
Generally speaking, your body digests food the way it’s meant to, irrespective of how you combine it. However, a loss of nutrient uptake and unpleasant side effects, warrant consideration towards a more mindful approach to eating. Try it out, and be sure to let me know if you see a difference!
As always, pushing for health.