Are Healthy Food Combinations Just A Myth!

healthy food combinations



Food combining has become very popular these days. Supporters of food combinations believe that wrong food combinations can cause various diseases, toxin-buildup, and digestive distress, on the contrary, correct food combinations can be useful.

What is healthy food combination?

Food combination or combining is pairing of certain foods together. The basic idea is that there exist such combinations as well which are improper. For example: eating steak with potatoes can have negative effects on the body and can also have digestive effects.

This idea became popular in the mid 1800s under the concept of TROPHOLOGY. This was then revived in 1900s by Hay diet. 

Generally, food-combining diets are broken down into carbs and starches, fruits, vegetables, proteins and fats. If not this way, diets can be classified as alkaline, acidic or neutral.

Examples of food combinations

Following are some of the rules that can be followed:

  • Eat fruits when stomach is empty, especially melons

Food combining

  • Starches and proteins are not a good combination
  • Starches and acidic food should not be combined
  • Do Not combine different types of proteins

Food Combining

  • Consume dairy products when stomach is empty, especially milk
  • Proteins and fats should not be mixed
  • Sugar should not be combined with anything else, it should be consumed alone
  • Fruits and vegetables should be eaten alone

These rules are based on certain beliefs.

One, As different foods have different speeds of digestion, consuming improper combinations can cause a traffic jam in the digestive tract leading to negative impacts on the body.

Second, Different foods require different enzymes of different pH levels. Thus improper combinations cannot be properly digested. 

Evidence based examples of food combinations

Although these rules are not the rigid principles of science, but still they are relevant. There are some examples that significantly improve digestion and reduces absorption of foods. 

Citrus fruits and Iron

food combination

Iron can be derived from two types of diets-heme iron, which is found in meat, and non-heme iron, which is found from plant sources.

Heme iron can be nicely absorbed but the rate of absorption of nonheme iron is quite low (nearly 1-10%). Steps can be taken to absorb such kind of iron.

One way is by adding Vitamin C. It works in two ways. Firstly, it helps easily helps the non-heme iron to absorb easily. Secondly, it decreases the ability of phytic acid to block iron absorption.

Thus combining foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits or bell peppers) with plant based sources of iron (such as spinach, beans, fortified cereals) is an excellent choice.

Carrots and fats

There are various nutrients that require fat which can be absorbed by the body, like fat soluble vitamins and carotenoids. Carotenoids are certain compounds that can be found in red, orange and dark green vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, spinach and broccoli.

These benefit the body by decreasing the risk of cancer, heart disease and certain various vision problemsHowever, if such vegetables are consumed without any fat, one may not get such benefits.

It is best to consume a minimum of 5-6 grams of fat with carotenoid-containing vegetablesAdding cheese or olive oil to your salad can be a good option.

Spinach and dairy products

food combination

Foods like spinach and chocolate contain an element called oxalate. It is an anti nutrient that combines with calcium and formulate an insoluble compound.

Consuming dairy products with oxalate containing foods, reducing the risk of kidney stones in ones body. On the other hand, for the people whose calcium intake is very less, combining calcium with oxalates can be a problem.

Examples of foods containing high oxalates are spinach, nuts, chocolate, tea, beets, rhubarb, and strawberries.

My take

Although the principles of healthy food combinations are not the hard and fast rules or principles of science, but still it has been found that wrong food combinations can have negative effect on the body. It may be a bit difficult and unmanageable for some people due to some of its complicated rules yet better follow them to stay healthy.

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