Is Food Combining Fact or Myth?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Page for more info.

Food combining has a lot of mention on the internet including recipes and food chart and diet information. There is also data regarding food combining myth that is certainly worth your attention.

This article comes to you thanks to our loyal reader, Denise, who asked for information on this topic. Food combining pops up every now and again but especially around the holiday season when homemakers-turned-holiday-chefs are designing their meal plan. We all want to serve our family and friends a delicious meal, but the most conscientious cooks also want their meals to set well on their stomachs and not cause digestive discomfort.

Some funny thoughts come to mind right now, but I will refrain from putting them to print. I’m pretty sure Denise and you want real information and not a bunch of anecdotes about which we can all relate and have a good laugh! I’ll be good.

Food Combining As Part Of “Diet Of The Masters”

When Denise brought up this subject, I dug out an article that I kept from years back which was a segment of “Diet of the Masters” by Michael Paul Patterson. The article states:

“Below is a list of other helpful tips for better digestion no matter what type of diet you are on.

  1. Fruits and vegetables don’t mix. Here again the sugars and acids in fruit slow the digestion of starches in vegetables and may cause fermentation, bloating and gas. It is best to eat fruits and vegetables at separate meals or wait at least an hour between eating the two.
  2. Any greens, sprouts, and vegetables mix well together.
  3. Vegetables are the best choice to mix with protein foods and foods with essential fatty acids such as nuts, seeds, and avocados. You can also mix veggies with meat. Since meat is completely void of fiber the vegetables will add the fiber needed to help carry the meat through.
  4. Starchy foods: rice, potatoes, bread ect.. go better with vegetables, herbs, sprouts, or a little butter. Chinese food with brown rice and veggies is good, baked potato and butter, herbal bread with butter or olive oil.
  5. Melon fruits should always be eaten alone with no other mixture. E.g. Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Crenshaw.
  6. Citrus fruits are better eaten alone or mixed with each other. E.g. Lemons, Oranges, Lime, Grapefruit. These are acid fruits yet in the body they become great alkalizers. Never mix these with starches or cereals this combination produces acid in the system.
  7. Starches and sweets mixed together are very acid producing and should never be eaten at the same meal. E.g. pies, cakes, bread and jellies, pancakes and syrup.
  8. Tomatoes are non-acid forming. It’s good to eat them with salads but do not mix them with meats, sugars, or any vinegars. Keep the meal very alkaline when eating tomatoes. A little starch or salt is OK.
  9. Orange juice and milk are helpful to the body but should be taken at opposite ends of the day. Better orange juice in the morning and milk at night, the high calcium will help you sleep easier.
  10. Wheat and Barley breads especially when sprouted are very alkaline and can be mixed with milk, a little butter, or herbs and other vegetables.
  11. Milk is very alkalizing and should not be added to coffee, tea, or sugar. I noticed I got very bad indigestion when I ate cookies or sweet cereals with milk.
  12. Shellfish of any kind should not be taken with alcohol.

Sequential Eating.

Even if you are not eating a perfect diet sequential eating can have a huge impact on your digestion. In a nutshell this is basically eating the most liquid and easiest to digest foods first, and then eating the foods that digest slower afterwards. For example, say you had a meal that consisted of fruits, vegetables, starches, and meat. This would be the exact order you would want to eat them.

1. Eat the most liquid food first, which would normally be the fruit.

2. Next eat the vegetables.

3. Then the starches.

4. And last the meat.”

Can You Remember All Of Those Food Combining Combinations?

Wow, that’s a lot to remember, isn’t it? Nowadays, we have the luxury of graphics online, and I came across a really nice food combining chart that I’d like to share with you. This comes from a pin on Pinterest with permission from Nat of  Nutrition by Nat  Check out Nat’s Facebook page.

The chart helps a lot to have a visual aid to food combining do’s and don’t’s. This is attractive enough to clip to a refrigerator magnet.

Food Combining Food Chart

There Is Another Side To This Issue Of Food Combining

HOWEVER, there is another argument to be made about food combining. Topics relating to nutrition, diets, food combining and the like can be very confusing because there are such strong opinions pro and con on these issues. I like to offer both sides of the argument whenever I can because the decisions really are up to an individual’s preference. Some will swear strongly towards one side of the issue while someone else will be equally as strong on the opposite side.

Some proponents of food combining come from a place of religious or ethnic beliefs. I am referring to the Ayurvedic principles here, for instance. Their teachings go back thousands of years and instruct about food combining along with our natural circadian rhythm of our bodies.

Can Our Bodies Digest Food Without Food Combining?

There are scientific reports that address the chemistry behind our digestion and how food is handled once it passes our lips. I am referring now to reports authored by Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN. She is a registered dietitian and America’s Trusted Digestive Nutrition Expert who’s been writing about digestive health for U.S. News since 2012. She holds a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from New York University, and her clinical practice in New York City specializes in managing digestive disorders through diet.

With permission from Tamara Duker Freuman, I want to share with you an excerpt from an article I found. In “Debunking The Myth Of Food Combining” she writes:

NO MATTER HOW BLATANTLY false and unsubstantiated they are, some Internet-driven health myths just refuse to die. The myth of “food combining,” which purports that the body is unable to digest certain foods if they are eaten in the wrong combination, ranks high among these. Typically, proponents of food combining warn that fruits must be eaten alone, lest they “rot” and feed “harmful yeasts” in the body. They also contend that when meats are eaten with grains or starches, it results in the meat “putrefying” in the gut because various digestive factors required to process protein and carbohydrate – be they enzymes or pH levels – “neutralize” one another and prevent the digestion of both. The consequences of inappropriate food combining, proponents of the practice caution, may range from gas and bloating to bona fide disease.

Rotting fruits in your stomach? Putrefying meat in your gut? Sounds horrifying. And it would be, if any of these claims were remotely true. Fortunately, they are not.

The rationales employed to advocate for food combining reflect a profound misunderstanding of the basic biochemistry and physiology of human digestion, and are poor pseudo-science at best. They are also grounded in a gross underestimate of our digestive system’s ability to multi-task. (To be clear, I understand that there are some ancient cultural traditions, like Ayurveda, in which food combining plays a prominent role. These traditions are spiritually based and reflect a more metaphysical approach to digestion, rather than one grounded in molecular biology. The discussion below is not intended to serve as a critique of or commentary on age-old cultural food practices based on such non-Western modalities.)

With this context in mind, it’s time to break out that high school biology textbook and put this persistent myth of Western-style food combining to rest once and for all.

Food does not “rot” in your stomach, period. Rotting is defined as the decomposition of organic matter (your food, in this case) as the result of bacterial or fungal action. Your stomach has a pH of about 2.0 or less when fasted, which is more acidic than even vinegar and lemon juice. This renders the stomach an extremely inhospitable environment to microorganisms, which are generally unable to survive there. In other words, if bacteria or yeasts are going to encounter your food at some point in the digestive process, it most certainly won’t be in your stomach – no matter how many hours that food sits there waiting to empty after a large, mixed meal.

There is only one circumstance under which you’d need to worry about food rotting in your stomach, and that is if you were to die mid-meal. But assuming you’re not planning on doing so, go ahead and eat fruit with whatever else you please and don’t give it a second thought.

Food combinations do not affect digestive system pH levels. Another argument made by food combining enthusiasts is that starch digestion supposedly reduces stomach acidity, which is an essential pre-requisite for a protein-digesting enzyme (or protease) called pepsin to work effectively. This, too, is a mischaracterization of digestive biochem 101.”

Click here for the rest of this very interesting and enlightening article.

Food Combining Is Your Personal Preference

As with many things relating to what food we should eat, how much food we should eat, when we should eat it, etc, there is no one-size-fits-all program that all of us must adhere to. It can be very confusing. There seems to be lots of information you can find on the internet about food combining including food combining charts, diets and recipes.

I did not find a proportionately equal amount of material taking the opposing point of view. I find this interesting because there is no one who I know personally or who I have met that follows a food combining lifestyle.

I particularly like the comment that Tamara Duker Freuman said:  “Rotting fruits in your stomach? Putrefying meat in your gut? Sounds horrifying. And it would be if any of these claims were remotely true. Fortunately, they are not.” For me, I am comforted in knowing that our bodies are capable of handling what we feed it even if it’s not optimally combined.

Food combining at Thanksgiving Time?

After all, Thanksgiving is coming up soon, and food combining is the least-regarded factor on the cook’s mind in preparing that dinner. All bets are off when you think of turkey, potatoes, bread stuffing, desert, sweet drinks, and alcohol all at one sitting. Oh, that makes my head hurt – but it doesn’t hurt my gut so much that I won’t do it again this year and will enjoy every bite.  Bon appetit for your dinner!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *