Mix and match for health

Mix and match foods

Some of our favourite foods come in tempting twosomes. Think of bacon and eggs, fish and chips and burgers and fries – all delicious but sometimes unhealthy pairings. Luckily for us, the trend of food combining means that we can mix and match foods to support digestion.

The food tunnel
The digestive system is made up of many different parts of the body; including the mouth, throat, stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, colon, rectum and anus.

The digestive system’s main purpose is to process our food and beverages in order to provide the body with its energy and nutrient needs – and then to efficiently deal with waste products.

Unfortunately, any number of genetic and lifestyle issues can impact our digestive health and cause ructions in the process.

Food combining is one way of getting digestion right. The right foods at the right time can repair and heal the intestinal wall with good nutrients and reduce toxicity and food allergies.

Cape Town-based nutritionist, Vanessa Ascencao, explains the idea behind food combining. “Food combining and gut health is everything these days. I am a big believer in the practice and most people will even notice they lose weight, stop retaining water, notice an overall health improvement and even sleep better.”

She elaborates: “Digestion and absorption is so important. If you are eating and not absorbing nutrients and supplements, what is then happening?  Even though you are eating, you are malnourished.”

Paired up
It is important to note that the wrong combination of foods has as much to do with digestive problems as issues that cannot be helped, such as genetic factors. When the wrong foods are combined, you can be afflicted with health issues like chronic flatulence, heartburn and constipation.

When foods are eaten in the “right” combinations, it moves through the digestive system with ease.

Rule 1: No proteins and starches at the same meal: the reason for this is that these elements deactivate each other and prevent proper digestion of either food. For best digestive results, wait two hours after eating a starch to eat a protein, and three hours after a protein to eat a starch.

Rule 2: No fruits and veggies at the same meal: think of fruits as primarily sugar. In fact, think of them as snacks really due to their sweetness. Vegetables, on the other hand, contain fibre and more wholesome nutrients, which do not mesh well with the high fructose content in sugary fruits.

Rule 3: Do not mix too many fats together at one meal: heavy eating means that your digestive system takes a toll. Imagine eating a handful of nuts, a teaspoon of olive oil and a slice of avocado all at the same time. Your system would be taking in a whole bunch of fats and oils at one time. Choose one fat per meal.

Rule 4: Keep alcohol and energy drinks separate: these combinations can cause heart palpitations, increased heart rate and breathing difficulties in some people – common side effects of combining stimulants and diuretics. Your nervous system does not need this pressure!

Digestion times

  • Fruit: approximately 30 minutes
  • Protein: up to eight hours
  • Starch: up to three hours

“If food is always backed up and not properly assimilated it putrefies, which can lead to candida, acidic environment in the blood, digestive complaints, leaky gut syndrome and so many more,” explains Ascencao.

Gut health is often overlooked, but it is probably one of the most important systems in the body. After all, you are not only what you eat, but what you absorb and digest.

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