Is Food Combining for Health a Myth?
Have you ever wondered if all this talk about food combining for health is really true or not? Many dietitians and nutritionists recommend combining foods to help boost their individual natural healing benefits.
In the early 19th century a New York physician named William Howard Hay contracted an illness which was then known as Bright’s disease. This illness is essentially referred to today as Nephritis and is a painful inflammation of the kidneys.
Dr. Hay found that he was taken very ill and started to limit the food that he ate to natural products only, which in turn made him feel better. From this incident, Dr. Hay decided to study the effect of natural remedies on the human body and took a real interest in the combinations of food we eat and their effect on the digestive system and most importantly the effects of the buildup of acid from the processes of digestion and metabolism.
From his work, he concluded that the human body’s digestive system should not process different types of foods at the same time because different foods have completely different digestion rates.
And so from Dr. Hay’s study and his published findings, the principles of food combining were born.
There is a lot of debate surrounding food combining and so it is easy to ask the question “Is food combining for health a myth?”
Many people believe that food combining is the only real way of ensuring that your body is getting all of the nutrition it needs, but more importantly, in the right way that the human body needs to receive it.
There is mention by enthusiasts of “digestive chemistry” as well as physiological reasons as to why food combining is the best way to eat your food.
What this essentially means is that people who want to follow a food combining diet must be strict on which foods they eat at particular times. For example, the golden rule of food combining is that you must never eat protein-rich foods at the same time as carbohydrate-rich foods.
Acidic and Alkaline Foods Don’t Mix!
One of the founding principles of the original Dr. Hay diet is that it is essential that foods which are acid (such as protein rich foods) must never come in contact with alkaline foods (such as carbohydrate rich foods) and has become a golden rule of recommended combined food diets that have been developed since the original Hay diet itself.
Only Eat One Type of Protein Per Meal And Fruit Alone
The food combining method then goes in to much more detail and can be difficult to get to grips with if you are completely new to the concept. As well as avoiding carbohydrates at the same time as protein in a meal, you also have to eat only one kind of protein during a meal. You also can only eat fruit on its own as what is commonly known as a “fruit meal”.
But Is There Evidence That This Is Even True?
On the other side of the coin there are many people who stand by the answer of no when it comes to the the Hay diet and other food combining diets. Probably the most important reason for people stating that they believe that food combining is a myth is because there have been very few scientific and medical studies to provide supporting evidence that the method actually works.
Indeed, scientific research has been carried out that strongly concludes that there is no positive evidence to support the fact that food combining is effective to better human health¹.
This leads many in the medical field to provide reasons as to why not following a food combining method of eating is not detrimental to our health. For instance, it is a fact that for centuries mankind has been eating in the same way and so our bodies have developed to cope more than adequately with processing different macronutrient types at the same time.
Other points of interest include that many foods that we eat contain both protein and carbohydrate and so it is impossible sometimes to separate the two.
Another argument against food combining as a reliable method is that the liver and the pancreas produce juices in the digestive system with enzymes that each tackle the different “groups” at the same time (i.e. one enzyme breaks down protein whilst another breaks down carbohydrates); so many argue that the body would not have this mechanism and need to go to all this trouble if the best way to digest the food is to eat it individually?
With so much emphasis on the answer to the question “Is food combining for health a myth?” being negative and with little, if no supporting scientific evidence to back up the claims of those food combining enthusiasts, it is really left up to you to decide whether food combining may be an option that they wish to try out.
1. Golay A, Allaz A, Ybarra J, Bianchi P, Saraiva S, Mensi N, Gomis R, de Tonnac N (2000). “Similar weight loss with low-energy food combining or balanced diets”. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 24 (4): 492–6. Doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801185. PMID 10805507.