Know what you eat choose the right combinations

Updated at: Jul 28, 2010
Know what you eat choose the right combinations

Poor combination of foods can be especially bad for your digestion. According to nutritionist Shilpi Behl, there are several rules and formulae to follow for optimum digestion.

Editorial Team
Exercise & FitnessWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jul 28, 2010

Poor combination of foods can be especially bad for your digestion. According to nutritionist Shilpi Behl, there are several rules and formulae to follow for optimum digestion. People from different cultures have varied diets and hence eat different kinds of foods at a time, which burdens the stomach and the colon, giving rise to digestive disorders.


Let's always remember and never forget that 45 to 60 per cent of health problems come from an unbalanced diet and these can be cured only by consuming the right diet.


"You don't really have to go for those gas-relieving tablets as long as you follow and understand the needs of your body. When your body shows unfavourable reactions towards a particular group of food, better avoid it. If the same problem manifests again in a more chronic form, then you should go for a medical check-up," adds Behl.


The right food combinations can ensure a healthy absorption of our meals. "Fries or a mashed potato with eggs on toast is one of the greatest combinations. Similarly, lot of things if taken together  might give loads of problem to your system."


Consider this example: When fruits and proteins are consumed together, both the acidic and the alkaline enzymes are stimulated and the opposing digestive juices are neutralised. This kind of situation often leads to indigestion; bloating and hinders the absorption of nutrients.


Fruits: They should never be combined with any other foods. The rationale being that fruits take very little time to digest when compared with other foods. If they are combined, they tend to partially digest and ferment which causes gas and bloating in our system.


Fruits that contain acid (strawberries, pineapple and grapefruit) should not be eaten with ones with too much sugar content in them, e.g.: bananas, raisins and dates.


Fruits like melons should be eaten alone as they digest very quickly.


Proteins and starch combination: Foods that contain protein like lamb, pork or red meat should not be combined with starches or complex carbohydrates as they both require different mediums for digestion. Foods that contain proteins should not be combined with dairy products like milk. "People think ice cream after dinner is healthy but it is the worst combination after a steak dinner," said Behl.


Do not combine any protein foods with acidic foods, eg. tomatoes and eggs. The acids secreted by the acidic foods hinder the secretion of the digestive acid required for digestion of protein foods.


Basic protein foods such as eggs, chicken, meat require maximum stomach acid levels for the best digestion due to their high fat content. Starches or complex carbohydrates are best digested in a more basic stomach medium and these include foods like pastas and grains.


Best pairs: Proteins-veggies and starch-veggies


This can be the toughest combination as it conflicts with our basic nutritional concepts because we eat fish with pasta and burger with a bun. With the first two rules, this leaves meals that concentrate on vegetables with a protein or a starch complement. You can combine some vegetables with starch such as chapatti, basically wheat or grains that will provide you with all the essential amino acids. These meals allow the body to best digest the foods and utilise their ingredients. "One of the worst combinations is protein and carbohydrate like dal and chicken or paneer or mutton. This not only adds to your weight but gives your system a wrong jerk," she said.


Only one protein per meal


Mixing more than one protein such as cheese and meat can be heavy on the digestive tract and this often provides extra fat and protein. People in most of the cultures eat too much fat and protein. "Too many proteins together might cause harm in the long run. For instance, when people go to dinner parties, they tend to try non-vegetarian as well as vegetarian items and therefore when they come back home, they feel uneasy. Say, a dal makhani and chicken masala together will go against each other and create indigestion," said Behl.


Though food combining can be very challenging at first, but if you are aimed for a good health, this will not be as tough as you think.


Be careful of what you consume

  • Ensure that desserts are avoided after a heavy meal as they take a long time to digest and tend to ferment soon.
  • Make sure that liquids are consumed an hour after eating food as liquids dilute our digestive enzymes and hinder the process of digestion.
  • Ensure that there is a gap of at least an hour between each meal to allow your body to digest and absorb your last meal. 
  • Avoid using more than three food groups in a combination and not more than one concentrated protein or starch at one meal.
  • While combining fats and oil with foods, limited quantities need to be used as they could slow down the process of digestion.
  • Do not mix proteins and starches. Proteins require acid and starches require alkaline stomach fluids.



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