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Healthy Habits; Food Combinations & Digestion

Food Combinations & Digestion

There is an order in which you can eat foods that will “stack” them better for digestion. Choosing the foods that digest quickest and combining those together is best.

For instance, fruits generally take less time than meats to digest. The general rule of thumb is to eat your heavier foods together and allow those a proper amount of time to digest before adding foods that digest quickly, like fruits.

When I first learned about the link between food combinations and digestion I started applying it right away by never eating fruit right after a heavy meal of breads, meats, cheeses and vegetables.

If I wanted fruit I would eat that either 30 minutes before a meal, or wait an hour or so after. Eating a heavy meal and then stacking fruit on top will cause the fruit to sit and possibly start to ferment while waiting to be digested. It would normally be processed quickly on its own, 15-20 minutes, but when you stack it on top of heavier foods like meats and cheeses it has to wait until that is digested first. Those heavier foods can sometimes take up to an hour or more to digest.

A more simple way to say it is that a fast-digesting food does not pair well with a slow-digesting food. Also, when having your first meal after you’ve slept or fasted, at “break-fast” you would benefit from starting out with fast-digesting, simpler foods such as berries and then waiting 15-20 minutes before having eggs, protein shake, toast, meats, cheese, etc. This gives your digestive system something easy to digest as it is ramping back up to digest something heavier. A more gradual, gentle way as opposed to eating something heavy right off the bat. It helps “prime the pump” for digestion, so to speak.

When writing about food combinations and digestion, I have to mention acid and alkaline producing foods. It is important to include at least one alkaline food in with your more acidic foods. Go online or to the library and look for a good list of acid producing and alkaline producing foods,, print it out and place it on the fridge.

When you eat too many acidic foods and not enough alkaline foods, it lowers your immune system and can lead to further illness, even cancer. In fact, it is documented that there is a link between a high acidity in the body and cancer formation. I’ve covered the importance pH balance in previous columns, along with a list of foods.

Lemon is the best for alkalizing the body. It is acidic on its own, yes, but when consumed it alkalizes. Drinking fresh-squeezed lemon in water is a great way to add alkalinity. So many of the foods a lot of us love to eat are acid producers like: steak, burgers, fries, eggs, bacon, toast, cheeses, milk, coffee, etc…Combining in some alkaline-producing foods like onion, garlic, carrot and avocado will create a more balanced pH in your body.

Ultimately, you’ll do best by listening to your own body and building your diet from that. What foods cause the most symptoms of poor digestion? Not sure which one it was? Try process of elimination to find the culprit.

One rule of thumb across the board would be to avoid foods with additives and stick with whole foods – organically grown fruits and vegetables, grass fed, hormone-free dairy and beef, etc. And very little to none at all of processed foods with artificial ingredients. Even “all natural” and “organic” on the box doesn’t tell you enough. Read the ingredients. Just because it is “all natural” doesn’t mean it is healthy for you. It may contain naturally derived preservatives but that doesn’t mean they are meant for human consumption.

Be Well and God Bless You.

Jennifer Wimmer

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