Crack the code to right food combinations

A natural health therapist shares with us his understanding on the correct way to combine foods to get the most nutrition out of them

collage of food, salad, vegetables, raw

Nutrition is not mathematics, although many nutritionists and dieticians treat it that way. We have been brainwashed by them that every meal should have a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, fibre, starch and sugars.

But a high mix of various foods also requires the body to produce a complex quality of digestive juices for each meal. This means a lot of work for the internal organs, meal after meal, and this is what causes digestive organ fatigue. Fatigued organs can also lead to chronic illnesses. No wonder that some wise traditions recommend fasting once a week just so that our organs can get some rest.

It’s better to keep it simple

Different food groups take different amounts of time at each stage of digestion. When you have a complex meal, the stomach, for example, does not allow the mixed food mass to pass into the small intestine till even the food that is most difficult to digest is broken down. When this happens, the other constituents of the food that are easier to digest get an overdose of acid treatment, thereby degrading their nutritive value. Therefore, the stomach and intestines have a tougher time processing a complex meal, such as a buffet meal.

Combining too many different food groups together in a single meal causes acidity, bloating, constipation, fermentation, candida overgrowth, obesity, blood impurities, rashes, mucus, spots and difficulty in gaining or losing weight. If you feel full and heavy most of the time, it is because your digestive system cannot cope up with the amount of food that you eat.

Different food groups take different amounts of time at each stage of digestion

If we look at animals and birds [and other creatures that have not been brainwashed like humans], they still follow the natural sequential cycle of hunger, search for food [natural exercise], ingestion of food, rest, and then play. They consume foods as per their seasons and availability. This cycle of nature promotes rotation of foods, all round nutrition, internal organ cleansing and detoxification, leading to better health and longevity. It is only humans who fight nature, make their own rules, and then fall ill by following them.

What your cravings and aversions are telling you

The human body expresses its intelligence when deciding what nutrition it needs by giving you the following signals:

  1. The first signal is when you really crave for the taste of a particular natural food—this is the time when your body has a deficiency of one or more nutrients this food provides. Think of the food in its natural form when you are using your five senses. Salivating at the thought of some stuffed turkey is not a natural craving for turkey meat. It is the craving for the flavours of the spices and seasonings used in preparation of stuffed turkey.
  2. The second sign is when you begin to stop appreciating the taste of a food—this happens when your body has had enough of that food for its current needs as well as stored reserves. We keep ignoring this sign and overcome it by making different recipes of the same food.
  3. The third sign is when, on seeing, smelling, or thinking of a particular food, you immediately dislike it and look for other foods that seem appetising—this is when your body does not need this food at all. But we suppress this signal as well, and force ourselves to eat this food, again by changing the taste of the food. This food doesn’t get broken down when we eat it, and most of its nutrients get passed out as waste since the body does not need them.

animals and birds still follow the natural sequential cycle of hunger, search for food [natural exercise], ingestion of food, rest, and then play

When we eat the same foods every day, the body’s need for the nutrients they supply gets fulfilled, and so our body tells us that it does not need those foods any more, by giving a feeling that they are not tasty enough. But, instead of acting on this feedback and rotating our foods, we add different flavourings to the same old food and overcome that feeling. Daily rice with different curries, weekend pulao and fortnightly biryani, all just because we want to suppress the body’s feedback, “Enough of that damn rice!” This behaviour is the very cause of build-up of unwanted substances in our bodies such as fat, plaque and cholesterol.

What we really need for healthy digestion and good nutrition is a small variety of food per meal, followed by a change of food in the next meal. If we keep a gap of four hours between meals, then each meal becomes a different digestive cycle. This way we can eat up to three or four totally different food groups in a single day.

The right way to combine foods

If you do choose to eat meat, do not combine raw salads or lightly cooked greens with them in the same meal. This may not be what many dieticians advice you, because they think that eating alkalising veggies will offset acidity from meat.

What some dieticians do not understand:

  1. Both these foods have very different digestion times. The meat takes the longest, and the raw salad or cooked greens take much lesser time. So, in the stomach, the broken down veggies have to wait for the meat to break down. During this wait, the veggies get putrefied to some extent, because the stomach does not release the meal into the duodenum till the highly acidic pH required for digesting meats is reached. It is only when the epithelial cells in the stomach sense the broken down constituents of the meat, that the entire meal will be released into the duodenum.
  2. The veggies get unnecessarily exposed to stronger pH of hydrochloric acid than what is required for their break down. This degrades their life energy and nutritional content.
  3. No amount of veggies will make such a meal alkaline. The pH of the entire food mass has to be brought down to the required level to break down the meat. Without attaining the required pH, the food will not be released to the duodenum. There is no way the body will bypass this step, because there are no other organs further down in the digestive tract that will do this job.

Instead, consume meats with cooked grain, and have a meat stew or a curry spread on the grain to compensate for its dryness. The digestion time for the cooked grains is much longer than vegetables, and the acid pH for its breakdown is also closer to that required for meats. The best option, of course, would have been to eat meat all by itself, but how many people can really do that? This only proves, yet again, that meats are not the natural food for humans.

If you do choose to eat meat, do not combine raw salads or lightly cooked greens with them in the same meal

Best way to consume fruits and vegetables

Ideally we should eat a single type of fruit, or at the most three different fruits as a complete meal, mixing nothing else. The next best option would be a blended juice of the fruits, followed by an alternate option of fruits blended with vegetables or leafy greens.

Mixing raw vegetables into a salad and having it as a separate meal is an ideal way of consuming it. Do not use sauces and seasonings that are processed and contain artificial taste enhancers and preservatives. Coconut oil, flaxseed oil and a garnishing of oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme and garlic are good. Mixing wheat pasta in a salad like this is not a good idea. Though slightly degraded by cooking, having cooked vegetables with a raw salad is fine, because they belong to the same food group.

Having cooked grains with a raw salad is also not ideal, because of their different digestion times. Cooked vegetables with cooked grains are a better combination.

The blend of vegetables and leafy greens is another food group best consumed singly. Due to its unsavoury taste, you may add a couple of tasty fruits to the meal. Adding herbs such as ginger, cinnamon, clove, or organic honey and Stevia is fine as well.

Mixing raw vegetables into a salad and having it as a separate meal is an ideal way of consuming them

Some of the foods that do not combine well are:

  • Fruits with dairy
  • Honey with ghee
  • Beans with fruits or dairy
  • Tapioca with fruits or grains
  • Fruits with nuts and seeds
  • Starchy vegetables such as potato with either fruits or nuts
  • Radishes with bananas, raisins, or dairy
  • Lemon with cucumber, tomatoes or dairy
  • Cereals, starches, grains or eggs with dairy
  • Potatoes, tomato or eggplant with melon, cucumber or dairy
  • Yoghurt with fruit, cereals, starches, cheese, eggs or nightshades.

10 principles of healthy food intake

  • An approximate balance of 80 per cent alkaline and 20 per cent acidic food each day. Low levels of hot spices in cooked food helps food retain its alkalinity.
  • Daily consumption of raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, leaves, roots, sprouts and nuts.
  • Lesser variety of food per meal, as this facilitates efficient digestion and also a lesser load on the digestive organs, keeping them healthier in the long run.
  • Consuming different meals through the day accounts for variety, as well as all round nutrition. Change the content of the day’s menu every alternate day.
  • Eat healthy food combinations. Wrongly combined foods create toxic waste.
  • Do not overeat any one type of food for too long. The exception to this is fruit, because fruits have no toxins
  • Have as much natural and organic produce as possible.
  • Eat foods that have a lot of healthy gut bacteria, such as fermented foods or cultured vegetables.
  • Try your best to eat locally grown fruits and vegetables of the season, because these foods are in balance with nature and the human body’s balance with nature during that season as well.
  • To remain healthy and full of life and vitality, eat at least 50 per cent of your vegetarian food raw. The ideal is to be on a 70 per cent raw food diet and 30 per cent cooked food diet.

One big disadvantage of going on a 100 per cent raw food diet is that you will miss out on eating many vegetables, leaves and roots that cannot be eaten raw. This is because their juices irritate the throat, they are too hard to chew raw, or difficult to clean well. Missing out on them would be missing out on a lot of nutrition and a lot of wonderful tastes and variety in life. Cooking them lightly using healthy cooking methods of baking, boiling, steaming, stewing and roasting or sautéing with coconut, avocado or flax oil is healthy.

You can be healthy and full of life on a 100 per cent raw diet only when you get a daily dose of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space. This is what ancient man lived on, and that is what is missing in modern life.

Excerpted with permission from Become Healthy or Extinct by Darryl D'souza

This excerpt first appeared in the November 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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