Helping Digestion With Right Food Combinations

Helping your body digest food is one of the easiest ways to improve the absorption of nutrients from your food as well as improving your energy, performance and sleep. Simple changes in your menu planning can result in great benefits, and if you ever suffer from the following you may be experiencing the results of poor food combining:

  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Low energy
  • Poor sleep
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Difficult bowel movements
Here are some general rules that can improve your digestive function, and prevent fermentation and putrification in your digestive tract. I am listing these in the order I feel is most important.
  1. Do not combine sugar with fat. This is probably the worst combination of foods and leads to the sugars fermenting rather than being absorbed by the system. So if you are looking at combining foods with sweet foods such as fruit, try to minimize any food that is high in fat. Some examples are fruit with nuts, avocado in a fruit salad, for those transitioning to a plant based diet, any meat or dairy, especially cheese with fruit. If you do have fruit and fat in the same meal, be sure to eat the fruit first, so it has a chance to move through your stomach before the fat.
  2. Do not combine acid with starch. Acidity will greatly slow down the digestion of starches. Some examples are tomatoes with potatoes or pasta, tomatoes on a bread sandwich, and a common mistake I used to make, bananas with oranges in a smoothie.
  3. Limit the number of fatty foods to one in a meal. Examples, avocado with nuts, or if transitioning, dairy with meat.
  4. Sugar with starch, especially cooked starch. The best example here is a donuts, or any baked bread product with sugar or glaze. I don’t recommend these anyway, but if you do consume them use extreme moderation and eat them all by themselves.
  5. Proteins with starch. I add this one primarily for those transitioning to a plant-based diet as the examples here are meat and potatoes or pasta and cheese, or sandwiches with meat and/or cheese.
You’ll notice my lack of vegetables on this list, and that is because vegetables combine well with pretty much anything.  However they do digest slightly slower than fruit, so when planning a meal it is best to eat fruit first and then vegetables, especially if the vegetables are cooked. Here is a list of foods and the rate at which they digest:
  • Very Slow: oils, nuts, meat, dairy.
  • Slow: grains, breads, rice, pasta, avocado.
  • Medium: cooked vegetables, starchy vegetables (potatoes etc).
  • Fast: most vegetables, greens, less juicy fruits (apple, banana)
  • Very Fast: Juicy fruits (orange, pineapple, melon).
So if you do combine foods, choose ones that are in the same group, or one group away. If you are adding foods 2  groups away from each other use moderation, and if 3-4 groups away avoid or use extreme moderation.
Overall, the more you can enjoy your foods separately the better off you are, but if you are combining foods try to follow the above rules as much as possible to help your body maximize its ability to properly digest everything you eat.