12

votes

The effects of food combining on health?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 20, 2011 at 9:49 PM

Travis Culp's latest hack brought up some interesting points, and it got my questioning whether food combining matters in the grand scheme of things. Let's take for example person A, who consumes 2 large glasses of coconut milk with nothing else for breakfast and at lunch has a couple pounds of sweet potato alone. Person B, on the other hand, consumes his sweet potato cooked in coconut milk for breakfast. Is there any reason to believe that these similar diets with different combinations would have varied effects on health markers?

I guess this also kind of goes hand in hand with Stephan's food reward hypothesis. In which he states unflavored, or plain food, prevent weight gain and various negative health markers.

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 23, 2013
at 05:58 PM

I think maybe fat can be combined with both protein and carbs; I know at least that a potato seems to go down much more smoothly with some butter and maybe something acidic. Meat seems to digest best eaten alone or with some fatty, easily digested sauces.

51b472fa449ab0e5433f27dcd799fedd

(1091)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:34 PM

This is a very intriguing idea. Today I'm trying this out - had a 1 lb. steak for breakfast, and I'll have roasted potatoes and carrots for dinner.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 11:43 PM

Mallory: Most mineral supplements are absorbed better in an aqueous solution, so if you can tolerate taking it on an empty stomach without food, it's likely advantageous to do so. I think the idea is that you don't want the minerals to get pushed too far along to the point where there isn't as much nutrient transport.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Patrik: I'm going mostly on how I feel, which is better, and also what I know about how we evolved to eat and how we absorb nutrients. My only in-depth HG knowledge is about the Hadza, but they have periods of heavy tuber consumption followed by heavy meat consumption etc. It stands to reason that though one eating phase would likely overlap into another, you wouldn't have complex combinations of foods eaten together.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 11:36 PM

With the digestion of meat, you don't want to raise the pH with more alkaline foods or dilute the acid with beverages. You want to eat meat by itself while drinking as little water as needed and then drink later. I don't think that some water makes as big a difference as *relatively* alkaline vegetables. I want to make it as easy as possible for my GI tract to handle meat and this is especially true if the meat is of unknown provenance or outright raw, as with sushi.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on September 21, 2011
at 04:18 PM

also, am wonderng about how to combine. morning seems perfect for meat/eggs/fat mid day seems good for veggies(with or without fat? easily absorbed protein like tuna or fish here?) evening is good for starch(again, with or without fat?) how do supplements play into this?

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on September 21, 2011
at 02:12 PM

mmmm i have oyster meals too :) so you want calcium & mag and zinc with carbs? what about other supps?

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on September 21, 2011
at 05:53 AM

Travis, how are you tracking effects/changes of your food segregation?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 05:10 AM

Some meals are all sweet potato or all fruit or all egg yolks, nuts etc. Separating fat into it's own meal isn't really necessary but I still do it out of preference. I'm aggressively attacking my zinc deficiency so I'll have meals that are all oysters. I segregate calcium and magnesium into the carb meals and zinc away from the meat. I take the fat solubles with the fatty meals of course. I'll sometimes take vitamin C with the meat meal since it's so acidic anyway and probably enhances iron absorption.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on September 21, 2011
at 04:54 AM

Could you list a few more meals Travis? Sounds very cool.

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 02:16 AM

@ Mallory. I hate having digestive issues because it is so hard to pinpoint what is really going on. One day it's eggs, another day its FODMAPS. Too much damm variables, but this food combining/separation thing is currently working for me.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on September 21, 2011
at 02:13 AM

FWIW, lol i read this post dinner...so another day blowing air out and ill start tomorrow with eggs for breakfast and stick to the starches at night...why do i think this will improve my sleep...already makes so much sense im assuming it is the answer. i KNEW i wasnt frusctos/carb intolerant...i think i am just goin about it wrong

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:38 AM

I have the same questions. I don't know how much meal combining affects health overall, but I know for certain that some meal combinations just don't digest to well. I have been experimenting with only eating meat and fat at separate meals from starches and veggies. I don't know how my health bio-markers are being affected but I know for a fact that my digestion has improved a lot.

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:37 AM

I have the same questions. I don't know how much meal combining affects health overall, but I know for certain that some meal combinations just don't digest to well. I have been experimenting with only eating meat and fat at separate meals from starches and veggies. I don't know how my health bio-markers are being affected but I know for a fact my digestion has improved a lot.

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:33 AM

Yes! Meat and sweet potatoes are a terrible combo for me. I have a nasty fermenting odor coming out of my rear end all day when I eat that combination, but tubers or meat alone don't cause such a reaction.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:04 AM

I'll buy that, important if you don't eat organ meats, but probably much less so if you do.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on September 21, 2011
at 12:51 AM

ahhhh i have got to try this! my digestion lately is out of this world bad having switched to 'balancing' my meals. as long as i eat the food groups i guess it doesnt matter when, plus one!

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 12:30 AM

I suppose that because the vitamin E is fat soluble, you'd absorb more of it, but the beta carotene and K1 are suboptimal forms anyway. Those you should be getting from liver.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 20, 2011
at 11:13 PM

Oh, and what about the long held belief that the nutrients in greens are most bioavailable in the presence of fat?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 20, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Ah man, are you trying to ruin my "glass of red wine plus steak and few lovely sprigs of parsley = a perfect meal" theory? ;)

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on September 20, 2011
at 10:18 PM

Interesting stuff. I find that when I consume a sweet potato plain or a slab of meat with not much on the side, I digest the food much easier. I am going to try and play around with this concept a bit more.

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11 Answers

8
Medium avatar

on September 20, 2011
at 10:06 PM

Well, it depends. In the case of MCTs, the presence of them alongside a very large amount of carbohydrates actually decreases VLDL secretion relative to what it would be. I don't know if that fat is then deposited in the liver instead though. The presence of it alongside an amount of carbohydrates that would be barely sufficient for the repletion of glycogen would result in a greater amount of VLDL than would otherwise occur.

I feel a lot better and suspect that I'm extracting more nutrients from food as a result of the fact that I've stopped eating mixed meals. Eating alkaline vegetables with meat likely raises the pH, which would decrease the extent to which proteins are denatured and possibly increase the risk of infection. The presence of phytate, oxalates or tannins could impact the bioavailability of various nutrients. The presence of fructose (or ethanol for that matter) alongside fat increases the extent of fat deposited in the liver. In general, if you eat something with a high hepatic priority, all the other processes temporarily fall by the wayside while it's handled.

I think it's likely advantageous to let the GI tract do one thing really well at a time. At first, it's unsatisfying because of how much more satiated you feel with meat & potatoes in the same meal, but over time it feels great. I just ate a 16oz lamb steak for lunch and that's it. At the very least, I think it's worth a try.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 20, 2011
at 11:13 PM

Oh, and what about the long held belief that the nutrients in greens are most bioavailable in the presence of fat?

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on September 20, 2011
at 10:18 PM

Interesting stuff. I find that when I consume a sweet potato plain or a slab of meat with not much on the side, I digest the food much easier. I am going to try and play around with this concept a bit more.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 05:10 AM

Some meals are all sweet potato or all fruit or all egg yolks, nuts etc. Separating fat into it's own meal isn't really necessary but I still do it out of preference. I'm aggressively attacking my zinc deficiency so I'll have meals that are all oysters. I segregate calcium and magnesium into the carb meals and zinc away from the meat. I take the fat solubles with the fatty meals of course. I'll sometimes take vitamin C with the meat meal since it's so acidic anyway and probably enhances iron absorption.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on September 21, 2011
at 02:12 PM

mmmm i have oyster meals too :) so you want calcium & mag and zinc with carbs? what about other supps?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 12:30 AM

I suppose that because the vitamin E is fat soluble, you'd absorb more of it, but the beta carotene and K1 are suboptimal forms anyway. Those you should be getting from liver.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:04 AM

I'll buy that, important if you don't eat organ meats, but probably much less so if you do.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on September 21, 2011
at 05:53 AM

Travis, how are you tracking effects/changes of your food segregation?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 20, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Ah man, are you trying to ruin my "glass of red wine plus steak and few lovely sprigs of parsley = a perfect meal" theory? ;)

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on September 21, 2011
at 04:54 AM

Could you list a few more meals Travis? Sounds very cool.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Patrik: I'm going mostly on how I feel, which is better, and also what I know about how we evolved to eat and how we absorb nutrients. My only in-depth HG knowledge is about the Hadza, but they have periods of heavy tuber consumption followed by heavy meat consumption etc. It stands to reason that though one eating phase would likely overlap into another, you wouldn't have complex combinations of foods eaten together.

51b472fa449ab0e5433f27dcd799fedd

(1091)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:34 PM

This is a very intriguing idea. Today I'm trying this out - had a 1 lb. steak for breakfast, and I'll have roasted potatoes and carrots for dinner.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 11:43 PM

Mallory: Most mineral supplements are absorbed better in an aqueous solution, so if you can tolerate taking it on an empty stomach without food, it's likely advantageous to do so. I think the idea is that you don't want the minerals to get pushed too far along to the point where there isn't as much nutrient transport.

4
76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on September 20, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I also feel superb when I eat only one type of food per meal. I've noticed super smooth digestion and better energy throughout the day. For breakfast, I usually eat meat+fat and only meat+fat. Lunch is fruit+veggies. Dinner is a pile of sweet potatoes. Sometimes I'll have an isolated snack of nuts and coconut meat so that any phytic acid there doesn't steal the minerals from my precious meat and tubers.

When I combine some foods (ground beef and sweet potato, for example) I tend to get a bit of gas/indigestion. I feel that this could be caused by my digestive system getting a little overwhelmed and more carbohydrate making it to the colon for fermentation.

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 02:16 AM

@ Mallory. I hate having digestive issues because it is so hard to pinpoint what is really going on. One day it's eggs, another day its FODMAPS. Too much damm variables, but this food combining/separation thing is currently working for me.

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:33 AM

Yes! Meat and sweet potatoes are a terrible combo for me. I have a nasty fermenting odor coming out of my rear end all day when I eat that combination, but tubers or meat alone don't cause such a reaction.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on September 21, 2011
at 12:51 AM

ahhhh i have got to try this! my digestion lately is out of this world bad having switched to 'balancing' my meals. as long as i eat the food groups i guess it doesnt matter when, plus one!

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on September 21, 2011
at 02:13 AM

FWIW, lol i read this post dinner...so another day blowing air out and ill start tomorrow with eggs for breakfast and stick to the starches at night...why do i think this will improve my sleep...already makes so much sense im assuming it is the answer. i KNEW i wasnt frusctos/carb intolerant...i think i am just goin about it wrong

1
E2bb182e133d8a2f303c74fadd498442

on April 17, 2013
at 04:46 PM

So I tried the food combination diet based on the book "Eating Alive" by Dr. Matzen. It essentially argues that because different types of foods digest at different rates and in different areas of the system, they should be eaten separately, and fully digested before you start with the next thing. So for example an apple takes about 1/2 hr to digest whereas a steak takes about 6hrs. If you eat the two together, they will both start getting digested right away by the enzymes in your stomach, however some bits of apple will remain in your stomach while the digestive juices work at the steak and vice versa. If you overwhelm your stomach your body will use up all of the digestive juices and then you'll have to wait for it to replenish itself. During that time the food will essentially begin to ferment and/or rot in your stomach and you will experience bloating, fatigue, heaviness. The longer term effects are also that instead of properly extracting the vitamins, and passing the waste through, partially undigested materials will be stored and some of the good stuff will be passed.

Ugh, So In my personal experience, the most helpful thing that came from the experiment was developing a food awareness. I have continued for the past year to loosely observe a lot of the habits I developed during the experiment. For example, I always eat an apple or some other fruit (melon, citrus or berries) before I eat anything else, and I do not eat anything else for aproximately an hour. On a hungrier day I will combine nuts (generally almonds) with the fruit. This allegedly stimulates the digestive system but doesn't deplete the good digestive juices. These excess juices will circulate through your body and "clean out" the other cells. It also creates a clean stomach for which you can eat your next meal. I eat carbs (I should also mention that I'm celiac and by carbs I mean usually rice or millet, or GF oatmeal) during the day combined only with vegetables. I eat protein in the evenings, fish, chicken, beef, egg, whatever - and generally only with vegetables, rarely with carbs or starches.
Dairy on its own, or with veggies. (I eat very little dairy already so this didn't bother me)

While being super strict I was absolutely miserable - for example not being able to eat a gf baked muffin because there was egg in it, or could't have rice with my fish. Generally my meals were either carby and bland or unsatisfying (probably only because I was used to corn tortillas with meat in them, or pasta with meatballs, as examples) I also found it super lonely, one of the things I love about food is sharing meals with people and being super strict is almost impossible in so many situations.

I notice food combination affects me when I "go nuts" like, for ex. if i eat a Burger while consuming alcohol, have apples in my salad and desert. I know for sure I'm going to feel awful.

Just as I began this, observing these rules for a period of time made me understand my own system better. Now when I feel crumby after a meal I'm usually able to be like yeah cause I had Ham and fruit spread. Or Cheese with carbs and meat. (or whatever) I always feel terrible when I eat fruit right after a meal - gassy, bloated.

End notes: sugar's the worst with anything and all the time. Being careful about what you eat should improve your life, if you're miserable, try something else. Water fixes everything. Drink it plentifully and often. Feel gross after a meal? drink water, be patient and forgiving of yourself! And only drink water with meals (most of the time :).

Hope this is informative/helpful.

1
C710242df9e7e9d95ad9ee812b9a56b3

on September 21, 2011
at 10:40 PM

I find certain foods digest better eaten alone also. A sweet potato, for example, causes me gas when eaten with meat, but not if eaten alone. However, I believe eating fat in combination with a carb results in slowing down the digestion of that carb, thereby causing less sugar to hit the bloodstream at one time. So the health benefits of combining carbs with other foods may depend on each individual's sensitivity to blood sugar issues.

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 23, 2013
at 05:58 PM

I think maybe fat can be combined with both protein and carbs; I know at least that a potato seems to go down much more smoothly with some butter and maybe something acidic. Meat seems to digest best eaten alone or with some fatty, easily digested sauces.

1
1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on September 21, 2011
at 12:57 AM

very interesting, and very interested. can you expand more on the alkaline stuff, and the ph of meals?? hacking my on digestion, it is absolutely hideous with mixed mealssays my other end... what all is determining storing/using/liver/musles/adipose based on this?

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:38 AM

I have the same questions. I don't know how much meal combining affects health overall, but I know for certain that some meal combinations just don't digest to well. I have been experimenting with only eating meat and fat at separate meals from starches and veggies. I don't know how my health bio-markers are being affected but I know for a fact that my digestion has improved a lot.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on September 21, 2011
at 04:18 PM

also, am wonderng about how to combine. morning seems perfect for meat/eggs/fat mid day seems good for veggies(with or without fat? easily absorbed protein like tuna or fish here?) evening is good for starch(again, with or without fat?) how do supplements play into this?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 21, 2011
at 11:36 PM

With the digestion of meat, you don't want to raise the pH with more alkaline foods or dilute the acid with beverages. You want to eat meat by itself while drinking as little water as needed and then drink later. I don't think that some water makes as big a difference as *relatively* alkaline vegetables. I want to make it as easy as possible for my GI tract to handle meat and this is especially true if the meat is of unknown provenance or outright raw, as with sushi.

2d4ff23c8ce7fb00708fa88ceffd4087

(408)

on September 21, 2011
at 01:37 AM

I have the same questions. I don't know how much meal combining affects health overall, but I know for certain that some meal combinations just don't digest to well. I have been experimenting with only eating meat and fat at separate meals from starches and veggies. I don't know how my health bio-markers are being affected but I know for a fact my digestion has improved a lot.

0
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on November 14, 2013
at 10:20 AM

Interesting! In the 70's I had a friend who followed the Hay Diet

http://www.netfit.co.uk/dieting/advice/food-combining-haydiet.htm

and, influenced by him, I also began eating according to the Hay system. And I did feel great. It was just too much effort - going out for meals with friends or in a restaurant was a pain. (Not eating wheat / grains isn't THAT much better, TBH!!!)

I will attempt to give it another try. I might even still have the Hay diet book knocking about somewhere. I do remember that for the couple of years that I was fairly committed to the principals of food combining, I seemed never to have a cold or any illness.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on November 14, 2013
at 08:01 AM

This post focusses on the NEGATIVE effects of food combining. In fact, throughout human history people have found food combinations that help, mostly by improving nutrient absorption through food combining. Example: salads with olive oil and vinegar. Olive oil improves beta-carotene absorption, and vinegar improves absorption of virtually every mineral. Other examples similar to vinegar: finish meals with an acidic fruit, or pasta with tomato sauce (we don't eat pasta, but having acidic tomatoes in there limits the effect of phytates). Acidic foods are also used with meat and fish by many cultures.

Based on this I doubt that there is any problem in say mix lemon juice with just about anything mineral rich, and also anything fat with anything yellow. The main advice from this thread is to keep high carbs and high proteins separated.

0
44f53efdedf4188ceadf140a2c721781

on November 14, 2013
at 04:54 AM

I am not sure if it's good or bad for long-term health, but I know it can sure help with digestion! Veggies with anything; fruit only by itself (wait 30 minutes); anything else one at a time but OK with veggies. So either meat and veggies or sweet potato and veggies, but not all at once. I don't abide by the rules because they are inconvenient, but I definitely see what happens when I mix fruit with other things (like I had berries on my salad tonight and also had steak).

0
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 17, 2013
at 06:54 PM

I guess I have "one foot in the door" on this.

I eat fruit and low-carb vegetables/greens as desired, but I don't mix meat and tubers--I use them as my main dish on alternate days. The only exception I can think of is that I do throw carrots into my bone broth stews, along with low-carb stuff, but I don't usually have potatoes in the stews.

In my experience, though, the only time I have trouble with mixing foods is when they're the processed type. Mixing whole foods really doesn't seem to be an issue for me.

0
C5d5cfab77a26fa17a56f2c62b99b879

on April 17, 2013
at 06:41 PM

Isn't this the Suzanne Somers diet?

0
1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on September 22, 2011
at 12:55 AM

so has anyone taken the food combining on? if so can you please give me some examples of how you separate your day. what goes together etc, or link me to where i can learn!

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