survival-doctor-ad-stabbed
My Family Doctor Blog

Google search



Free Health Newsletter

free-health-newsletterThank you for visiting! You can sign up for our free monthly newsletter here. You'll get the latest articles, with tips and insights from doctors, registered dietitians and more.

We never spam or share your email address.

Click here to read previous newsletters.

Food Combining Diet: Does it really work?

pastaby Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E.

My wonderful patient Betsy* asked if she should eat fruit on an empty stomach. Apparently, a friend told her that if she ate it for dessert, her entire meal would remain undigested and rot in her stomach. This would somehow cause her to gain weight. It would also, she feared, induce bloating, gas, diarrhea, and a host of digestive and health problems. It could even lead to gray hair and dark circles under her eyes.

Betsy's concerns are based on the false notion that the order in which we eat our foods affects our health. Proponents of this food combining theory argue that the body is ill equipped to digest certain food combinations.

Newsletter

If they were really onto something, that'd mean no more chicken and rice or spaghetti and meatballs since according to them, the body doesn't tolerate carbohydrates and protein simultaneously. The claimed inability to digest fats and protein together would mean the end of pretty much everything else. I couldn't sauté my chicken in olive oil, mix mayonnaise into tuna salad or marinate my meats in salad dressings.

HOW DIGESTION REALLY WORKS
In the body's beautiful design, food triggers the release of pancreatic juices into the small intestine, where our food is largely digested and absorbed. These juices contain enzymes to digest fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

In fact, if we were unable to digest these three nutrients at the same time, we wouldn't be able to digest most foods even when eaten in isolation, says New Jersey based registered dietitian Tina Marinaccio of Health Dynamics LLC. "Think beans, bread, dairy products and even vegetables," she says. These foods aren't made of single nutrients; they're combinations of fats, protein and carbohydrates. Babies have the most immature digestive system of all, but even they digest all three nutrients at once in the form of their mother's breast milk.

"Plus, if food really became rancid in our system and did not digest," adds Marinaccio, "we would end up with whopping infections." And if food wasn't absorbed, the calories couldn't be extracted, and you couldn't gain weight from them.

When it comes to weight loss and health, what really matters is what we eat and how much we eat--not which food we eat when.

 

JILL WEISENBERGER, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., is a registered dietitian with National Clinical Research-Norfolk, in Virginia, and a consultant to the food industry with Jill Weisenberger Health Communications LLC.

*Name has been changed.

Last updated and/or approved: December 2009.

Share/Save/Bookmark
Comments (10)add comment
0
Simplistic view
written by mindpower , June 03, 2015

Ever pooped out bits of undigested corn? To say that it's impossible for food to pass through your digestive system undigested is plain wrong. Also, to say the food would rot in your stomach is equally ludicrous. Food takes days, sometimes weeks to rot yet most people excrete a day's meals the following day.

These claims are quite disturbing from a "doctor" website.

report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +0

0
Combining foods properly
written by Karen , May 29, 2015

i have had digestive distress for years. Lately not eating properly has caused my BP to go up pretty high! I decided to go back on to Fit For Life following the basic rules of not eating carbs with protein and eating fruits alone and within a few days my BP is normal, I lost a pound and have not had bloating or gas in three days! I realize everyone's digestive systems are different but it does not hurt to try something different to see if it works for you! I beg to differ with the dietitians who have not tried food combining but still have an opinion about it!
report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +2

0
Our bodies know what they are doing...
written by Pat , June 08, 2011

It doesn't make sense that something as amazing as the human body would allow food to 'rot' in the stomach. Seems more likely we would vomit long before rot set in. Otherwise, if we were full of rot and not digesting our food, we would get very sick and be in a lot of pain. The hospitals would be full of people in doubled over in pain because they 'ate a piece of bread, then a piece of fruit.' If you eat a lot of fruit, sure, you'll get bloated, and if you keep eating too much of anything you'll get fat. We have autonomic systems keeping our hearts beating and we don't have to consciously breath... fortunately, we have digestive systems which work pretty much the same way, unless, of course, illness is involved. Just eat right, and in reasonable portions and let your digestive system do the rest.
report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +3

0
Food combining really works
written by Darko Petreski , March 24, 2011

Hi,

Food combining theory is based on analysis of the stool.
The input is the food.
The output is the stool. The stool is then analyzed. The clues are made based on results of thousands analysis.

If the food is not properly digested, let say hamburger.
Then in the stool there will be remaining of undigested carbohydrates or proteins depending of the stomach of the person. The process of digestion is not important, just the input and the output. If the food is undigested and if it stays longer in the colon, than the bad bacteria from the stomach rottens is (as you know there are good and bad bacteria in your stomach). This means that for undigested foods the bad bacteria increases so increasing gases. If we go very long time with this kind of eating, we weakens our immune system. If our immune system gets weaker we can be ill very often.

The best sign is if the stool is smelly and deformed, then we should change our diet.

Also think logically.
The human body have not changed probably with thousands of years. Did those thousand years people eat meet and starch in the same meal or they have eat fruits alone and meat alone ?
Did animals eat hamburgers ? No. Did they eat different foods in same meal? No. Our body is no differed then theirs. Only the brain is different and the brain says Good Taste! And that is the problem in the modern world.
Have you ever header about blue zones? No? Read about it.


report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +5

0
Trace amounts?
written by ToComboOrNotToCombo , March 08, 2011

Hello, I have been researching the claim of food combining and have come across the claim that breast milk contains both proteins, carbs and fats. My question is how much of it does it contain in and are they equal amounts or trace amounts. If trace, it's probably going to be easier to digest. I have seen some nutritional info on breast milk but will need to crunch some more numbers to figure out how many grams of protein in 4 oz. of breast milk is in comparison to the "recommended daily value" for infants. I have yet to find this info. available yet.

However, I did come across a livestrong website which showed a pie graph on the nutritional makeup of 4.5 oz. breastmilk which showed proteins were only 4% leaving the carb and fat in the lead.
http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/nutrition-calories/food/generic/breast-milk/

But if we are talking a 5 oz sirlion (29g protein) and a baked potato (35g carbs) it would be harder for the body to digest?

I would love to hear any feedback as I am still undecided on whether to change my lifestyle in this direction.

report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +4

0
food combingin works for me
written by frankd , January 16, 2011

Whent hey refer to carbs they mean starches as everything has carbs even meat as meat has glycogen which turns in to sugar just not a lot of it.
I find that eat most starches like bread potatoes and rice seperate from protein has really helped my digestion and i dont get bloated and irratable anymore. Though food combining does allow combingin starches and protein as long as it does not surpass a 20% to 80% ratio
For example you can have a protein with a starch but the starch as to be no more than 20 percent of the meal
vice versa too
starch mean with a protein but protein should not exeed 20 percent of the meal
I also find that eating fruit on an empty stomach makes itmore bio available and I feelt he effects from it very quickly.

report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +2

0
Food combination works
written by R. B , December 19, 2010

Sorry saying that, but I do food combination for some months and really works. What is more, beside the fact that I never had lot of gases again, I feel great and lost a lot of pounds. So, I believe that this works for some people and doesn't for others. I eat anything combined, i feel super happy and energetic. I really have to disagree with the negative thought.
report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +2

0
HOW DIGESTION WORKS
written by Sharon W. , January 08, 2010

Very good read and I'm surprised I never knew how the digestive process actually worked.
report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +0

0
Evidence for Other Things ...
written by Leigh Ann Otte , January 07, 2010

Hi, SR. Thank you for your comment.

I looked at the interesting article you referenced. I don't want to address it directly and get into a debate with one particular advocate. So I'll just say that, in my view, if you look closely at articles like this, you find that they rely on research that didn't actually study the food combining theory.

And even these unrelated studies may not be strong (for example, a tiny evaluation of two or five people.) The fact is, if there truly were proof this theory worked, they'd be citing a lot stronger and more specific studies.

Because of the lack of direct studies, other factors must influence our decision on whether to believe the theory. Most mainstream experts I've seen say it's scientifically flawed.

As an aside and just FYI, interestingly, the article you referenced doesn't advocate all the classic food combining rules, as I understand them. For example, instead of forbidding high-fat and high-protein combinations, this article says fat and protein must be eaten together. However, as with articles advocating classic food combination rules, it does leave me confused. For example, it warns not to eat acidic foods, such as orange juice, with high-carbohydrate foods. Orange juice is high in carbohydrates itself!

Thank you for contributing to the discussion. It's an interesting topic.

Best regards,

Leigh Ann Otte
Managing Editor
www.MyFamilyDoctorMag.com

report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +0

0
Empirical evidence to support your claims?
written by SR , December 31, 2009

I just read an article regarding food combinations on a website for Jeremy E. Kaslow, MD. The article also addresses some of the comments you made and from my perspective does a great job of it. It also appears to offer empirical evidence. Can you offer empirical evidence to support your claims?
report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +0


Write comment
smaller | bigger
 

busy
 
© My Family Doctor 2017.
Magazine Publishing Website Design and Digital Magazine Media Solutions for Publishers