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Food Combining Wisdom for Greater Health

by Elizabeth Montgomery(more info)

listed in colon health, originally published in issue 230 - May 2016

Recent research has shown that over the last few decades there is a significant rise in digestive disorders due to ever changing dietary habits. As a result, there are now many popular nutritional approaches available which target the health of the digestive track, each with varying success. For example, some protocols emphasize the health of the colon and replenishing the bowel flora, or microbiome, while others focus on repairing ‘leaky gut syndrome’ located in the small intestine. There is, however, one critical factor which is often overlooked in popular digestive reset protocols. It’s called: food combining. This is often the missing link when it comes to tackling digestive disorders as it covers the entire digestive process - starting with food as it enters into the mouth.   

Unfortunately, most Westerners have been raised to eat in a way that creates a myriad of digestive issues: bloating, acid indigestion, wind, constipation… the list goes on. In my experience, the most frequent health complaints are linked to poor digestion. Many people frequently rely on medications such as antacids to curb digestive discomfort, while others simply resign themselves to living with these (often embarrassing) symptoms. Therefore, understanding how to optimize digestive function is essential for greater health. And the good news is it’s easy once you know how!

Here is check list of common digestive symptoms

a) Acid reflux
b) Bloating
c) Lethargy after eating
d) Wind
e) Constipation
f) Diarrhoea
g) Burping
h) Stomach cramps/spasms

If you have checked any of these symptoms then the following information might be useful.

There are four main digestive processes: digestion, absorption, assimilation and elimination. Has your mouth ever watered before eating something delicious? That’s because when we first see, or smell, and begin to chew our food, our mouths secrete digestive enzymes to help break it down. Once the food goes into the stomach, depending on the type of food, the digestive organs release appropriate enzymes. Problems begin when we eat foods that are incompatible.
So how does this affect you? Your body uses tremendous amounts of energy when it attempts to breakdown foods that are not compatible in the stomach. This can create large energy dips after eating. Furthermore, it leads to incomplete breakdown of what you’ve eaten. The end result is fermentation and even putrefaction in the digestive tract. This situation then feeds undesirable bacterium, yeasts, moulds and fungus, which thrive in these conditions. Candida overgrowth, a type of fungus, is a common health issue and can easily spiral out of control when there is fermentation present, leading to a range of uncomfortable symptoms: bloating, depression, nail fungal overgrowth, headaches, PMS among other things. Some research suggests unhealthy gut bacteria is linked to autoimmune spectrum disorders. 


Montgomery 230 Food Combining

Food Combining Correctly
The solution to many health issues may be found in understanding that different foods digest in different ways; good digestion is possible when we learn how to eat healthful combinations. This awareness has been around for several decades. The science behind it lies in the fact that different enzymes are required to breakdown different foods. For example, the enzymes to breakdown protein are produced in the stomach, and the ones for starches in the mouth. If too many foods that require differing enzymes are eaten together, it leads to indigestion, rancidity, and fermentation all along the digestive tract. Therefore, it’s always best to combine as few ingredients as possible for optimal digestion as this is how our ancestors once ate. Luckily, greater digestive health is well within reach when you learn to get back to basics with simple food combining.

The 3 Main Golden Rules

1.  Never eat dense protein together with carbohydrates.

This is because proteins require acidic enzyme secretions and take up to 4 hours to digest. Carbohydrates on the other hand, require alkaline enzymes and only take up to two and a half hours to digest. When eaten together, the foods do not get properly digested which leads to a degree of indigestion. Always combine protein with plenty of low glycaemic (low in sugar) vegetables only, such as green beans or kale. Carbohydrates also go well with vegetables (both low glycemic and starchy variety), but remember that it’s best never to mix the two.

A few examples of how to properly combine protein foods are: lentil soup (protein) with side salad and steamed green beans, or celery and cucumber sticks with humous (protein), or goats cheese (protein) salad on a bed of fennel and green leaves, or a handful of soaked almonds with pumpkin seeds (both vegetable protein). Examples of how to eat carbohydrates: brown rice vegetable risotto with raw sauerkraut (a pro-biotic food) and side salad, or millet flake porridge with cinnamon and oat milk, or baked sweet potato spread with small amount of coconut oil, and served with steamed courgettes and broccoli.

2. Avoid eating fruit together with any other food.

Fruit digests very quickly and is considered to be a ‘pre-digested’ food. On average it only takes one piece of fruit no more than 30 minutes to exit the stomach. When eaten with other foods it can’t be digested, and the result will be fermentation in the digestive tract. One fruit to be careful with is melon, which is ideally eaten on its own. It digests very rapidly and can cause fermentation if it’s forced to spend too much time in the stomach. Always eat fruit on an empty stomach and ideally first thing in the morning. This is also a great way to gently ‘wake up’ your digestive system. It’s important to note that lemons, limes, tomatoes and avocados are all technically fruits. However, they combine well with either vegetables or fruits. 

3. Avoid drinking with meals.

It’s best to avoid drinking large amounts of any fluid with meals otherwise the digestive enzymes will become diluted. You should try to stop drinking 20-30 minutes before meals and wait at least 2 hours afterwards (depending on the type of foods eaten). A small amount of liquid with meals is okay. In fact, a small cup of warm water with ginger and lemon can actually aid digestion. 

These food combining rules may seem difficult to follow at first. But, they are in fact, very easy to do when adopted into a healthy eating programme. A little perseverance goes a long way when it comes to recovering digestive health. The results will lead to digestive ease, improved energy levels, weight loss, and an overall sense of greater well being. Why not give it a go - and feel the results!


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About Elizabeth Montgomery

Elizabeth Montgomery Dip NN MBANT NTCC is a London-based Holistic Nutritional Therapist who has been studying and exploring; nutrition, eastern medicine, astrology and medicine way healing practices for many years. To arrange a private consultation please contact Elizabeth via

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