The purpose behind food combining is so straightforward that it can be easy to miss. Food combining is about improving your digestion, plain and simple. As Donna Gates, creator of The Body Ecology Diet, explains it, the health of your digestive tract is entirely dependent on the combination of the foods you eat at each meal. She says, “If you're eating these complex meals that don't go well together, [then] you're putting this burden on your digestive tract to try to digest the foods that you eat.”
Food combining is an essential Body Ecology principle to keep digestion running strong as the foundation of all good health. You can give your gut an extra boost to help break down food and improve nutrient absorption by taking Assist Full Spectrum digestive enzymes at each meal.
This digestive burden presents an even bigger dilemma when you consider the modern diet. We know that raw foods are naturally high in enzymes — for example, fruits and veggies contain their own plant enzymes that help to aid in digestion, as does raw dairy. But for the most part, critical enzymes in modern foods have been destroyed through processing, pasteurization, and packaging. This means that no matter how healthy and fresh you eat, you may not be digesting and absorbing all the nutrients your body needs without the help of food combining. Donna reminds us that the only thing more important than what you eat is how well you digest it.
Body Ecology is a gluten-free, sugar-free, anti-Candida diet, and the Principle of Food Combining is one of the main reasons why it works so well when other anti-Candida diets do not.
Proper food combining is essential to healthy digestion, and the violation of this principle has contributed to the weak digestion, imbalanced inner ecosystems, and overall ill health we see today.
A balanced inner ecosystem has plenty of friendly microflora (good bacteria) to help you digest the foods you eat and keep you healthy and strong. Our ancestors didn’t worry so much about proper food combining — they went ahead and ate meat and potatoes or bread and cheese in one meal. That’s because they had much healthier inner ecosystems.
The introduction of processed and pasteurized foods, antibiotics, and other drugs and environmental toxins into our systems has destroyed the natural balance we were created to have. Our modern lifestyle has made conscientious planning and effort a requirement if we want to take care of our inner ecosystems and stay healthy. Learning and practicing the secrets of food combining is crucial for efficient digestion and better nutrient absorption, which leads to a leaner body, stronger immunity, and increased energy.
Different food groups prompt different enzymes to be secreted in your stomach, and each enzyme needs either an acid or alkaline environment in which to break down your food. Any chemistry student will tell you that when acids and bases (alkali) come into contact, they neutralize one another.
So what happens when you eat a food that requires an acidic environment to be broken down and absorbed together with a food that requires an alkaline environment?
You guessed it, your stomach essentially becomes a neutral zone — neither acid or alkaline. This stalls the important work of the enzymes, which inhibits the whole digestive process. When this happens, your food sits in your stomach too long and begins to ferment and putrefy. Along with food combining, taking digestive enzymes with each meal can help to speed things along and reduce the likelihood of fermentation. It also helps to remember that there’s a distinct difference between food that ferments in the body and the fermented foods we recommend eating at each meal: Fermented foods, like cultured veggies and living probiotics, contain beneficial bacteria needed by the gut to support and improve health. “Rotting” food that ferments in the stomach can become toxic as it moves through the digestive tract.
Fermentation of food promotes alcohol and sugars to be produced. The yeast in your inner ecosystem happily feed off these sugars, multiplying and crowding out the beneficial microflora in your gut, which wreaks havoc on your health. If you already have weak digestion or a Candida imbalance, eating improperly combined meals further weakens your digestive tract until it slowly begins to break down.
By following the principles of proper food combining, you will begin to heal your digestive system and allow it to function as it was meant to. You will also experience these benefits:
That said, it’s important for you to understand one overarching concept as we begin, a major DON’T that is often violated because you have always been told it’s okay.
NEVER eat an animal protein and a starchy vegetable or grain in the same meal:
Based on what we have already said about chemistry, can you see the problem?
Eating animal proteins and starches or grains together means acid and alkaline neutralize one another, enzymes can’t do their jobs, digestion stalls, and your food begins to ferment: this is feast time for the pathogenic bacteria and yeast like Candida that are in your digestive tract.
Think of the typical American fare: ham or turkey sandwich, steak and baked potato, pizza, burgers and fries. Your digestive tract has taken assault after assault, and the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) makes it obvious why obesity and other illnesses are at epidemic levels.1 These diseases will continue to rise unless we start changing the way we think about the food on our plates. Sadly, the Western diet has already been proven to change gut bacteria and trigger the development of more serious gastric diseases, including colitis.2 Eating Western foods may even increase death risk after a prostate cancer diagnosis.3
All of the Body Ecology Principles work together in harmony to create balance in your inner ecosystem and propel you toward better health. You cannot practice one and ignore the others.
For example, the Principle of Food Combining explains why our 80/20 Principle states that 80 percent of the food on your plate should be composed of non-starchy land and/or sea vegetables and the other 20 percent should be animal protein OR grain — but never both.
To summarize, the two DOs are:
Food combining lies at the foundation of the Body Ecology Diet because it brings us back to our ancient roots, promoting life-long health and vitality. Donna explains, “Because man didn't have that rich array of foods, we wouldn't have been able to eat that way a long time ago, and it's part of the big mistake we're making today.” She says, “It's all about digestion and helping your digestive tract become healthier, so this is a valuable principle.”
Do the foods that you eat together really matter? If you want to learn the best way to balance your inner ecosystem, it all starts with healthy digestion, made possible by proper food combining. This will make it easy for you to get all of the nutrients that you need right away to restore your body back to its natural balance.
You can help your digestion along by eating fermented foods each day, like cultured veggies and living probiotics, and by taking digestive enzymes at each meal. Sadly, most of our modern foods have been processed to the point that they are completely devoid of these natural digestive enzymes that we need to break down and assimilate food. That’s why food combining is so important — it makes it easier for your body to digest all the healthy foods you eat.
To practice basic food combining and to promote optimum health, we recommend that you enjoy protein with non-starchy land and/or sea vegetables and eat grains and starchy vegetables with non-starchy land and/or sea vegetables. Making these simple changes may not only relieve what many consider “normal” digestive discomfort after a meal, but you may see dramatic improvements in your overall wellness, digestion, and energy.
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