The question of compatibility of products is a very ancient one. For example, Ibn Sina, in his book The Canon of Medicine, provides detailed analysis of which types of food can be combined in the same meal and which not. Even in his smaller work Treatise on Hygiene he writes the following: “One of the means of reaching equilibrium is to combine one type of food with another one correctly. Such balance can be disturbed by mistakes like when slow-digesting food is followed by rapidly digesting one, as the latter is digested faster, but cannot move further down, because the way is blocked by slow-digesting food. If you eat rapidly digesting food before slow-digesting one, or take a laxative together with it, or some compressing foods like quince afterwards, products that slow down the movement of food like coriander, or some products that contribute to the rotting processes of food like garlic after cabbage or cheese after milk, in this case the first one will rot very fast and the other one will curdle” (Ibn Sinha “Treatise of hygiene”, p. 17)
Yogis also teach to combine different products correctly, avoid mixing milk with other foods, fruits with vegetables etc.
Not knowing these rules often results in people eating first a bowl of cottage cheese with bread, then pea soup with meat, potatoes and again with bread, then beef with vegetables and grains and they pour it all down with sweet juice, and eat something sweet and an orange or apple for dessert (they say it is healthy). You have seen something like this many times already, right? However, as a result of such “lunch” none of the products mentioned above can be digested normally!
The calories received will barely cover the energy spent for digestion and neutralizing the toxins and the secretary system will suffer from the flow of poisons formed in the process of food rotting in the stomach and intestine.
For example, an apple eaten on an empty stomach leaves it in 15-20 minutes already, while an orange does so even faster. And what happens when fruits come to a full stomach after other foods? They cannot pass to the intestine and in 15-20 minutes they start to rot. Although the stomach juices impede rotting processes, not all bacteria are afraid of these juices and it takes time for the juices to reach all the food masses, as the stomach is overfilled.
The other products in the example we gave above do not combine any better. Cottage cheese and pea, cottage cheese and meat, pea and meat, bread and meat etc., all these combinations are very wrong.
We have already talked about specific functions of digestive enzymes and mentioned that each type of food requires gastric juices of a different content. Moreover, the conditions of digestion of different foods in the stomach may vary a lot.
Proteins, for example, require acidic environment (different acidity for each type of protein), so that pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down proteins, could function normally. Meanwhile, hydrolysis of starches occurs only in alkaline solutions, as acids slow down the enzymes needed. That is why it is not recommended to consume proteins and starches in the same meal.
For the same reason, it is not good to eat starches together with sour products, such as vinegar, citric fruits, tomato sauce etc. If you, for example, eat bread and drink tomato or orange juice, the salivary enzymes will lose their effect while the food is still in your mouth.
However, there is still intestinal digestion. Pancreatic juice breaks down all types of nutrients, be it proteins, carbohydrates or fats (this is by the way the main argument of those who disagree with ideas of the food combining approach). Even so, the combination of products reaching the intestine makes a big difference to our organism.
One thing is when a person eats oatmeal cooked with water. It covers the gastric mucosa; a moderate amount of a not very strong gastric juice is secreted, while in deeper layers of food the salivary enzymes continue to function. An ideally transformed semi-liquid mixture comes to the intestine quite fast, and then it is digested there once and for all without overloading the digestive organs.
It is very different when the same oatmeal is eaten together with meat. The stomach cannot secrete a juice that would be equally effective for oatmeal and for meat. As a result, both products stay there for longer and leave the stomach without being completely transformed. Then the pancreatic enzymes finally break down these products, but the normal work of the digestive system has already been disturbed. The food masses arrive at the intestine in a not very prepared state and because of this your liver, pancreas and small intestine will have to work harder. As a result, the content of intestinal microflora will change and putrefactive bacteria can take over.
The role of symbiosis between “a host” and microflora varies in different animals. Herbivorous animals, for example, almost completely depend on their microorganisms. In some chambers of their stomach and intestine, food is subject to bacterial fermentation on purpose. The indigestible cellulose becomes a source of food for microorganisms that are also digested afterwards. Because of that, herbivorous animals receive valuable amino acids and vitamins not present in their diet.
Meanwhile, the stomach and intestine of carnivores are created in a way that minimizes fermentation of food. Food masses do not stay in their digestive system for a long time and so bacterial flora does not play an important role in predators’ lives. It is not necessary, as meat contains everything necessary for life. Moreover, microorganisms that are good for animals and people mostly feed on plant fibers, while meat attracts only putrefactive microflora.
Our gastrointestinal tract is mostly made for digesting various fruits, grains, juicy vegetables and greens, and intestinal microflora plays a very important part in its functioning. Its content determines if the food consumed will turn into nutrient compounds or into toxins and how well the digestive processes will be performed.
In fact, there are numerous microorganisms living in our stomach. Some types of them are predominant, others are less important. This balance is usually determined by the character of food and general functioning of digestive system. When eating healthy well-combined food in moderate quantities, a “friendly” microflora is established. In this case, your feces do not have a bad smell; they actually almost do not smell at all. There is also no flatulence.
Unnatural combinations of products and overeating result in gastric and intestinal digestion disorders. Not completely digested food masses stay in your organism for too long and become a source of putrefactive bacteria formation. Gases are formed and feces acquire bad smell immediately. The flow of toxins damages the liver and kidneys, poisons the whole body and leads to various diseases.
Text: from the book A.Eddar “Treatise of nutrition”. Interpreter: Liza Dukhova