I have heard a lot about the merits of ideal food combinations to eat and avoid in order to maintain a healthy digestive system over the years. This is by no means a new concept in the health field, but like any health theory that comes down the pike there are those who swear by it and others who maintain it is bunk and that you can just pile anything down your throat like an open sewer and your digestive system will “handle it.” I will offer my own experiences with eating and avoiding certain combinations of foods as I have tried to use common sense through trial and error with many years of eating different food combos, keeping detailed food activity journals and tuning in to the almost instant feedback your stomach gives you that most people may ignore or forget to note over time.
I like to keep an open mind to entertaining solutions to a problem(especially ones that I’m experiencing) if they seem rational, measurable, achievable and don’t involve anything crazy or of dubious intent that’s harmful. Years back I was experiencing enough upset stomach problems to warrant me visiting a few doctors to try to get some relief. They would give me the usual “bum’s rush” treating you like a widget on the assembly line under 10 minute impersonal visit. They would all tell me the “universal” canned warning of avoid spicy foods and either direct me to over the counter antacids or even a prescription to deal with the upset stomach symptoms.
There were two problems with this scenario – I never ate spicy foods to begin with and all that the doctors’ were doing was treating my stomach symptoms and offering nothing as to what the root cause of my problems were- insuring I became a ward of the prescription drug industry.
This was a ridiculous and counterproductive medical merry go round I wanted off of so I decided to do my own research into my stomach problems and try to take proactive action to get to the root problem. Besides, I didn’t want to be a slave to various gut medicines which seemed to work only marginally at best and just added another laundry list of side effects with their continued use that made me feel BLAH.
My first step was to literally zero in on exactly what I was eating and see if there were any glaring problems there. Turns out I was eating pretty healthy after filling out a food diary for a few weeks and studying the results. I was getting plenty of veggies, fruits, whole foods, very little processed foods and drinking plenty of water avoiding sugars and bad fats all while being extremely physically active. Oh sure, I ate some “junk” food here and there but I was still getting stomach bloat, painful discomfort etc. from time to time. This frustrated me even more as I was indeed eating healthy, so why was my tummy still at war with me despite all my good, healthy intentions for it?
I finally got some solid insight into my stomach problems when a friend who was very versed in nutrition told me that my problem may be from not what you are eating, but how you are eating it and in what combinations since he agreed my food choices were indeed good. This was one of those AHA! moments for me that are game changers in life that people talk about. My friend told me to check out the writings of Dr. Wayne Pickering, a naturopathic physician who advocated a system for combining foods for your health and longevity which had helped him and others get rid of their stomach ills.
Dr. Pickering is an interesting fellow and I learned that he has done studies of the most common traits, diets and life habits of the healthiest individuals in the world that have attained an age of 90 or greater based on studies and travels to over 23 countries. He noted that while the diets of these healthy, active and long-lived individuals varied, they all ate natural foods which were relatively devoid of toxic sprays and pesticides. And the foods they ate were eaten in moderate, compatible combinations with the body’s digestive chemistry.
What really intrigued me and impressed me about Wayne is that he is a product of his own advice. The guy is nearly 70 years old, looks great and has the strength and mobility of a modern day Tarzan. These are the types of folks you can learn from since they practice what they preach and teach and have the sustainable longevity to back up their methods – exactly the philosophies I gravitate to and uphold.
I found all this highly interesting, but what Wayne is so well known for are his views on how food combining promotes ideal health since it stands to reason that if the foods we consume are not digesting properly we can get stomach ailments such as acid reflux, uncomfortable gas, bloating, heart burn and other stomach issues. Not only can these painful symptoms arise, but your body will also be robbed of critical nutrients it needs to function properly which can also hinder one’s efforts to lose weight. I was experiencing some of these ailments from time to time, so I was very interested in getting to the root cause of these miserable, uncomfortable stomach issues.
Dr. Pickering stresses that “The purpose of food combining is to uncomplicate the process of digestion, thereby eliminating digestive problems and that no food value can be obtained from undigested foods.” He also explains that undigested food literally rots and putrefies in the intestines which creates a climate that will invite illness and misery such as headaches, colds, constipation, dysentery, kidney and liver disorders all adding up to huge health care expenses. Wayne argues that all this self imposed misery is not necessary if we just get off the junk food train and combine our foods in a manner conducive to ideal digestion. This made a lot of sense to me so I decided to put his theories to practice. I had nothing to lose except hopefully stomach discomfort and pain.
Dr. Pickering has specific rules for combining foods properly:
Don’t Eat Proteins And Starches Together.
This plays havoc with digestion since your stomach uses a series of acids to break down the protein and a series of alkaline digestive juices to break down the starch. These competing digestive juices will neutralize each other bringing digestion to a halt resulting in the food going through your body undigested inviting turmoil.
Examples include spaghetti (starch) and meatballs(protein), Hamburgers – (bun is starch, meat is protein)
This rule seems to impact me the most when I try to eat oatmeal (starch) with almond butter(protein.) I would get a lot of bloating from this combo. The first time I stopped adding the almond butter to my oatmeal, my stomach was fine and never bothered me again. I don’t really have too many issues with hamburgers or sandwiches, but I don’t eat a lot of these combos either. I have talked to people where these combos are definitely an issue.
Don’t Eat Fruits With Starches
Fruits are absorbed quickly into the intestines, while starches require a more rigorous digestive procedure. So while your stomach is working to break down those starches, the fruit gets held up in the process and ferments without properly digesting creating an incompatible situation in your tummy.
Examples of these include cereals with fruit like raisin bran varieties or toast and fruit preserves.
Dr. Pickering states that fruits should be eaten alone as their own separate meal.
Going back to my oatmeal example, I had stomach problems when I would add bananas or blueberries, also. As soon as I cut them out of the oatmeal, my stomach was fine.
I still get my fruit in, but I eat them alone and wait approximately an hour before eating any starches or proteins. This worked like a charm for me and really kept my stomach happy.
Don’t Eat Fruits With Proteins
Same rules apply here as the stomach is busy working on the proteins pushing the fruit to the side holding it back in the stomach to ferment and cause turbulence.
I definitely noticed this effect after say having a piece of chicken immediately followed by an apple. A little bloating and discomfort would follow. Eating yogurt and fruit also gives me some stomach problems.
Don’t Eat Fruits And Vegetables Together
Once again, the digestion of the fruit is delayed as it will ferment in the stomach as the vegetables are digested.
I used to combine fruits and vegetables in smoothies thinking I was being proactive by throwing everything in a blender and gulping it down for maximum health effect. I would mix spinach, strawberries, bananas, carrots, blueberries, bell pepper, parsley, apple and yogurt together and down the hatch with it. These smoothies tasted fantastic, but after about ten minutes it felt like I ate a case of pop rocks or drank a cup of magma the way it made my stomach bloat and churn. These were all incredibly healthy ingredients, yet it was amazing how this combination seemed to prepare my stomach for war and I was on the losing side! I now just do either a pure vegetable mix or a pure fruit mix skipping the yogurt in the mix as my stomach issues went away once I kept the fruits and veggies separate.
Only Eat Melons Alone
Melons, Wayne stresses, combine with no other food and should be eaten with nothing else as they are food in its most basic form and digest very fast which will be in conflict with anything else consumed.
I would learn that I got my worst stomach pains and discomfort when I violated this rule. I love watermelon, cantaloupes, and honeydew melons, but would get such bad stomach pains and bloating after eating them that I felt like an alien was going to burst out of my stomach and had the sensation of just swallowing a hot chunk of cement that just festered in my gut. I thought for sure that I was experiencing some type of allergic reaction to eating melons, but once I stopped combining them with other foods and waited an hour before eating anything else, my stomach was fine.
Don’t Eat Acidic And Sweet Fruits Together
Examples to avoid include Bananas and cranberries or dates and grapefruit
Don’t Mix More Than 4-6 Fruits Or Vegetables At A Meal
Boy, I learned my lesson with this rule as well!
I used to make my famed “Super Salads” virtually unloading any piece of produce from the fridge, cutting it up and dumping it into a huge bowl thinking I was smart and proactive scarfing down all my nutrients in one sitting. I and my stomach learned how wrong I was. I would put spinach, onion, carrot, avocado, squash, apple slices, bell pepper, celery, parsley, cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, hard boiled egg slices, tomato and either chicken, fish or steak to top it off. My stomach would usually get queasy soon after, but I used to erroneously chalk this up to scarfing down my food too fast which wasn’t the case. I would get a crazy feeling in my stomach so bad sometimes it felt like I was getting seasick on dry land or nursing a headache in my stomach!
Once I started observing this rule and started eliminating so many ingredients from my salads and simplifying the mix, my stomach instantly behaved causing me no discomfort. It was like my stomach fell back in love with me welcoming me back to the fold of pain free health! It’s amazing how all these ingredients I was using were all technically super healthy and nutritious, yet my stomach was pleading with me to stop dumping so much incompatible variety down at a time. It just goes to show our stomachs’ are way smarter than us. My stomach was giving me incredibly sound feedback which manifested itself in the form of pain, discomfort and bloating, yet I was too stupid to listen to what it was telling me and I suffered for it. Well, not anymore- I listen to my stomach and keep both of us happy now!
I virtually have no stomach issues anymore after taking the time to systematically practice these food combining rules I learned from Dr. Pickering. Whenever I do have any stomach issues which is extremely rare these days, I almost always find myself in violation of one or more of these food combination rules. I am not perfect with my eating, but I have a much better relationship with my stomach and we seem to have mutual respect for each other instead of declaring war on each other whereby I would always be the loser!
It Wasn’t Easy, But It Was Worth It!
Abiding by some of these food combination guidelines wasn’t easy for me, but achieving anything worthwhile and lasting never is. I had to re-think and learn some new eating concepts and strategies when I was at a point in life where I thought I had nutrition “all figured out” which obviously I didn’t. Some have told me that it is too much of a hassle to attempt to put into practice any of these food combining guidelines, but all I can say is that it was worth it to me to literally eliminate all my stomach problems. Those of you who know the discomfort of bouts of painful stomach issues know what It’s like.
Remember, I am sharing my experience with food combining because not only did it make sense to me, but after putting these principles to practice I noticed relief almost immediately. I finally got to the root cause of my stomach problems that I now have the power to control instead of being forced to merely marginally treat the symptoms while shuffling through the medical system like a zombie addicted to popping antacid tablets like tic tacs.
While you may know individuals who can shove anything down their throat and treat their stomachs like a sewer and seem to function optimally, I hope you can benefit from my painful journey all those years ago and apply something here to help your quality of life and well-being if you can relate to some of the issues I went through.
Check out more on Dr. Wayne Pickering HERE. as he is a wealth of nutrition knowledge.
Stay Well! Take Action! Be Consistent! Train and Eat Smart! Get Rid of the Drains and Pains in Your Life! Value your loved ones and friends and get out and have some active, safe fun!
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I Eat T-Bone Steaks(but not with melons) And Avoid Stomach Aches!
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