Simple Food Combining
5 Guidelines for Optimal Health

turkey leg potato cabbage

Turkey, potatoes and cabbage. Is this a good food combination or not?

Following simple food combining guidelines can make a significant difference in your overall health and immunity. Ironically, food combining is one of the least talked-about strategies for healthy eating. 

In my experience, it is simply a matter of biochemistry.

Different types of foods require different lengths of time for digestion, assimilation, and waste elimination through the body. I refer to these as food transit schedules.

The quicker and more completely that food is digested, the less waste (and toxicity) it will leave in the body.

Thus, following simple food combining guidelines will give us the greatest opportunity for nutrient absorption and will also provide quick-exit combinations for removal of waste from the body.

Different foods also require different types of digestive enzymes in the body. When we combine food properly, we get the most benefit from the enzymes that our body produces. 

When we improperly combine foods in the same meal, some digestive enzymes are neutralized leading to a load of undigested food which dams up the G.I. tract.

The undigested food can cause numerous health issues, including “leaky gut,” inflammation, allergies, and an accumulation of serious toxicity in the colon.

Whether you believe in the concept of food combining or not, if you are having any type of health issue, especially in regards to autoimmune or digestion and elimination, you might want to at least consider the following guidelines.

Simple Food Combining Guidelines

  1. Food and beverages do not mix wellDrinking 8 to 12 ounces of clean, filtered water (or fresh-squeezed lemon in water) about 30 minutes before a meal will prepare the digestive tract for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. During meals, it is best to not drink anything or to just sip warm herbal tea or water at room temperature. Avoid drinking ice cold beverages during meals! Digestion is a chemical process that generates heat. Drinking ice cold beverages during a meal will dowse the “digestive fire” and significantly slow down the digestive process.  In the very least, your body will have to work twice as hard and produce many more enzymes in order to digest your food. The bottom line is that it is best to drink fluids (mainly water) between meals, preferably 30 minutes before and at least one hour after meals to allow food to fully digest.
  2. Fruit and melons are lonersFruits and melons have the quickest digestion and transit time through the body when eaten alone. They are the foods with the highest water content and they provide their own enzymes. However, if you eat fruit during a meal, especially with complex carbohydrates or proteins, the fruit sugars get hung up in the digestion of the other foods and they quickly ferment, often causing gas, bloating, headaches or constipation. Eat all fruit and melons alone, and eat them at least one hour before meals or two hours after meals.
  3. Vegetables are the peace-keepersVegetables are relatively easy to digest and have high water content.  In general, starches (such as potatoes, rice, legumes, pasta, and bread) require an alkaline environment for optimal digestion and animal-based proteins (such as meat, dairy, poultry and fish) require more acid. But vegetables can be digested in either an acid or an alkaline environment. Thus, they can be combined with starches or with animal-based proteins, as well as all plant-based proteins (such as beans, seeds, nuts, sprouts, tofu, and tempeh).
  4. Proteins and vegetables go good together.  Proteins from meat, poultry and fish are low-fiber foods and require an acidic environment for optimal digestion. Vegetables do not interfere with the breakdown of animal protein (which can take 12 hours or more). In fact, the high amount of fiber in vegetables helps to move the digested protein through the intestines. Eating a vegetable salad or cooked vegetables with any type of animal protein is a good idea.
  5. Starches and proteins are a bad combo.  Starch and protein combinations are the most prevalent poor food combining habit for most people, especially those of us raised on the typical American diet that contains meals such as meat and potatoes or spaghetti and meatballs or a hamburger with fries. The problem is that starches and animal foods require different digestive enzymes and levels of pH for digestion. When we eat starchy foods, digestion begins in the mouth with the enzyme ptyalin. So if we eat a steak, for example, with a baked potato, little if any ptyalin is produced and thus the potato is not predigested by saliva. Starchy foods also require an alkaline environment for digestion but animal protein needs a high level of acidity (mainly hydrochloric acid). When starch and protein are combined in the same meal, the acid-alkaline environment is not conducive for either, digestion is thus incomplete and essential nutrients are lost. Worst of all, digestion takes more time, fermentation occurs and the exit time of waste product is longer than usual. This can lead to a degree of autointoxication (self-poisoning) in the body.


These simple food combining guidelines are fairly easy for vegetarians and vegans.

Meat eaters find them a little more challenging, mainly because of the habit of combining starches and proteins.

Following these guidelines does not mean you can NEVER have spaghetti and meatballs or a turkey sandwich, if that is what you enjoy eating.

What I encourage my clients to do is to experiment with their own bodies and follow the 80-20 rule. 

In other words, try to combine food properly for every 8 out of 10 meals, and give yourself some leeway for the other 2 meals.

Following these guidelines 80% of the time means that you will glean the many health benefits of optimal digestion and elimination without feeling deprived of your favorite foods.

And if you are skeptical about the validity of food combining, I challenge you to experiment with your own food combinations and pay attention to how you feel for several hours after each meal.  

For example, if you eat steak, have the steak with only vegetables for one meal, and then a few days later have another steak with only a baked potato.

See if you notice a difference in how you feel right after the meal, how well you sleep that night, as well as how much energy you have the next day.

If you want to find out if you can combine fruit with other foods, the next time you go to a barbecue pot luck, have a piece of watermelon right before or right after your hamburger or hot dog and all the other stuff, then notice how you feel . . .

Then again, you might want to just believe me—I can assure you, combining fruit with animal protein is a bad combo.

Answer to the question below the image at the top of the page:

Eating turkey, potatoes and cabbage in the same meal is not a great combination. A better choice would be turkey, cabbage and a side salad for optimal digestion and nutrient utilization, and less chance for undigested toxic waste sitting in the gut.

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