Combining your foods for optimal digestion has a long and controversial history. Many people, as well as, health practitioners, swear by how it aids in digestion, assists weight loss, clears up acid reflux and chronic digestive problems. As it is a simple and not too difficult method of organizing your meals into specific food groups you can easily experience it for yourself.
Basically, foods are separated into groups that require a particular enzyme for digestive purposes. These can be an acidic gastric juice or alkaline pancreatic enzymes. When more than one type of food is eaten together the necessary gastric juices and enzymes compete with one another, which compromises digestion in the stomach. For example:
- Protein foods depend on gastric acid, which consists of hydrochloric acid and an acidic enzyme called pepsin.
- Fats are emulsified by bile, and carbohydrates require pancreatic enzymes and are mostly broken down in the small intestine.
Since enzymes decline as we age, heartburn and indigestion become more prevalent. We can help to alleviate these symptoms by eating more raw foods high in natural enzymes, following food combining guidelines, and/or taking digestive enzyme supplements with meals. Fermented, cultured vegetables are loaded with enzymes and should be eaten with your meals to aid digestion.
Next: Food Combining Guidelines