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Combining Foods For Digestive Tract Health

Updated on June 13, 2009

"You are what you eat:" This infamous saying has become a catchphrase which marks a profound grassroots effort to modify our nation's eating habits,away from the "packaged chem lab" foods and towards a more organic approach.

This reaction against "artificial" additives, insecticide-laden produce, and the quite lethal diet of "burgers, fries & soft drinks" has lead to a stunning diversity in the nutritional approaches which are being bandied as the truly natural ways to eat. There are a myriad of these "alternative nutritional" plans which exist today, but it has to be noted that the majority of them are only intended improve your overall health, and not for weight gain or loss. The rule of thumb is, if you want to lose weight eat less and exercise more. If you want to gain weight, go eat at my Mother's house.

Note that I do not endorse any particular nutritional system, and that any modification of your personal eating habits should only be done after consulting a trusted physician or professional nutritionist. Common sense is the rule: can a diet which commands you to ingest 30 bananas a day or eat nothing but tofu truly supply you with balanced nutrition?

One of these "alternative nutritional" plans which has not received quite as much media hype as some of the more popular ones is Food combining. This plan is based upon the theory which proposes that certain combinations of food groups can be more beneficial to our health than other combinations.

Again, I do not personally endorse any of this, but it is interesting to review in any case.

Is there any reason to pay attention to the combination of foods eaten rather than the actual types that are consumed in a standalone manner? Besides assuring that we eat foods from the major food groups each and every day, why bother trying to figure out the interrelationships between the different nutrients?

The principles of food combining are based upon the physiology of the human digestive tract. Since humans evolved in harmony with their environment and the types of foods available, in order to understand the principles of food combining, we must analyze the eating habits of early humans, many thousands of years B.B.M. (Before Big Macs).

Early humans ate in a very similar manner to animals: very simply. Animals generally consume an extremely basic diet and do very little combining. Meat eating animals consume virtually no carbohydrates or acids with their proteins. Grazing animals such as horses and cattle do not combine foods. Many birds have been observed to eat seeds at one time of day and insects at another. No animal in nature has the variety of different foods spread before it that we have today: Early humans definitely had no such great variety of foods available.

Depending on his geographical location, he would eat fruits or nuts or woolly mammoth. In many places, he also developed a penchant for bugs, slugs, and other appetizingly slimy things: They were readily available, nutritious, and although they didn't taste as good as bear steak, they were less likely to tear your head off.

Due to the evolutionary and evironmental factors involved in human evolution, the digestive enzymes of the digestive tract have certain well-defined limitations. When we eat in an attempt to override these limitations, we run into digestive difficulties. Food combining is merely a way of respecting our enzymic limitations. Combining foods properly and eliminating haphazard and indiscriminate eating can assure better and more efficient digestion, leading to greater nutritional value and improved health.

It is interesting to note that although we think that we metabolize every bite of cheesecake or Fettuccine Alfredo, we actually don't. If foods are not digested properly, they just pass through the digestive tract. We derive no value from non-digested foods. Not only is it a waste of food but it can actually be injurious, as the spoiling of foods results in the production of byproducts which can be poisonous. Therefore, a comprehensive program of food combining not only assures more complete nutrition as a consequence of better digestion, but it provides for protection against a slow, insidious form of food poisoning.

This subtle type of food poisoning shows up in an amazing variety of different ailments. A number of food allergies clear up completely when supposedly allergic individuals learn to eat foods in digestible combinations. What they suffer from is not allergy at all, but a form of indigestion which affects the whole body. Indigestion can result in putrefactive poisoning which, like an allergy, is a form of protein poisoning. Complete, normal digestion delivers nutrients, not poisons to the bloodstream. Fully digested proteins are not poisonous at all. They are nutritious and necessary to good physical health. Failure to ingest or metabolize proteins can also affect your mental abilities. It has long been a part of the arsenal of professional torturers and brain-washers to eliminate proteins from the victim's diet.

There is much more to food than protein, and many types of foods do not contain significant amounts of protein. Food in its original raw state as we get it from the garden, orchard or market, is composed of water and various organic compounds known as carbohydrates (sugars and starches), fats (oils), minerals and vitamins as well as proteins. They also possess some percentage of non-usable or indigestible matter or fibre which passes through the system as waste.

Foods vary widely in character and type and are classified according to their basic composition and sources of origin. The following classifications are summaries of the major groups listed by their major constituent. This is meant to serve as a general guide only, as there are literally hundreds of foods which can be listed under each heading. Also note that there is no such thing as a food which is entirely protein or carbohydrates. Everything is made up of different percentages of these nutritional building blocks, and these headings are only for the purpose of this particular food combining plan, as outlined in the diagram.


  • Meats (except fat)
  • Cereals
  • Dry beans
  • Dry peas
  • Soy beans
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Sea foods


  • Cereals
  • Dry beans (except soy beans)
  • Potatoes
  • Chestnuts
  • Pumpkins & Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Bread & Grains
  • Lentils
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Sugars
  • Syrups
  • Honey & Molasses


  • Oils
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Cream
  • Pecans
  • Fat meats
  • Avocado


  • Blackberry
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • Mandarin
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberry
  • Sour Apple
  • Strawberry


  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Peach
  • Plums
  • Pear


  • Banana
  • Sweet grapes & Raisins
  • Date
  • Papaya
  • Dried fruits
  • Prune
  • Current
  • Persimmon

(Note that some may be separated into non-starchy and mildly-starchy)

  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Sprouts
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Collards
  • Spinach
  • Dandelion
  • Beet tops
  • Turnip tops
  • Chard
  • Okra
  • Turnip
  • Kale
  • Green corn
  • Eggplant Green
  • Cucumber
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsley
  • Rhubarb
  • Watercress
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini
  • Escarole
  • Asparagus
  • Radish
  • Sweet pepper


  • Watermelon
  • Muskmelon
  • Honeydew
  • Casaba
  • Cantaloupe
  • Crenshaw melon
  • Persian melon
  • Banana melon
  • Christmas melon

Remember that this is only a partial list and that there are many foods which fit into these categories that cannot be listed here due to space limitations. So, with a little common sense, and under your doctor's supervision, Happy combining! Hope it helps you!


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Under the structure of the plan not really, but olive oil is generally regarded to be the healthiest oil to use, as long as it's in moderation.

    • profile image

      Leslie Amador 8 years ago

      Dear Hal, I intend to start the food combining plan ASAP. Just wondering, however, if there is any kind of oil to use for cooking meat, if need be, that would be suitable and not stray from the foundation of the diet.

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Thank you very much. I truly appreciate your continued support! :)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Very good Hub, Hal, packed with solid thought and wit. I enjoyed it. Thanks.

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Thank you for the kind words, Gypsy Willow, but my ignorance, like the universe, knows no bounds. I truly do regret that my life course did not allow me to be a full time academic for my entire career. I would have loved nothing better! :(

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hello Hal, What aren't you an expert on? Useful hub, we all eat too much so a little thoughtful planning should help all of us. Thanks