Most Healthy Way to Eat

Gen 1:29: "Every Herb bearing seed and every tree bearing fruit with seed in it shall be yours for food."

The food combining concept of Trophology is another fad diet. It has been around since 1985 when the book, written by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, was first published.  The author, Harvey Diamond claims to have a doctorate in nutrition. In reality, he got it from a mail-order school in Austin, Texas which was closed down by the Texas Board of Education for being a diploma mill.

There is no truth to the concept that the wrong combination of food - protein and starch will make you fat or will rot in your stomach. Our bodies are designed to digest different foods together, and there isn't any physiological reason why we can't digest and absorb proteins and carbohydrates from the same meal.

Different foods are broken down and absorbed in different parts of the body. For instance, with sugars, this process starts in the mouth with the enzymes in our saliva. Some of the sugar is quickly absorbed through the mouth, which explains why we get an instant sugar hit from a chocolate bar, for instance.

More complex and difficult-to-digest foods, such as whole meal bread and red meat, first have to be crushed and squeezed by the teeth and the muscles in the stomach before the enzymes which have been released into the small intestine can break them down into absorbable form.

This is why these foods take longer to digest. The plus side is that they keep us satisfied for longer. Some foods, such as whole wheat bread, can't be completely broken down and digested, which is why, nutritionally, these high-fiber foods are so wonderful for gut health. The undigested elements of fibrous foods produce fatty acids in the colon.

These prevent abnormal cell activity, reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. High-fiber foods also help to produce softer stools that are easy for the gut to deal with.

Meanwhile our liver and pancreas produce digestive juices. These contain enzymes to digest proteins, some that digest carbohydrates, and others that work on fat. Why would the body do this if it wasn't meant to have all types of food put into it? It certainly does not put the body under any sort of strain eating both protein and carbohydrates in one meal.

Furthermore, most foods contain both carbohydrate and protein, so the theory of food combining just doesn't stack up.

Our state of mind has an enormous impact on how comfortable we feel eating different foods. Hormones released when we're feeling negative or angry (such as adrenaline and noradrenaline) make the muscles of the stomach and the intestine tighten.

These hormones also constrict the blood vessels supplying the gut, therefore our food can feel very uncomfortable inside and can cause symptoms of irritable bowel or indigestion.

This mind-body effect is why relaxation and meditation can work with people with digestive problems, as they can reset the way the gut works.

The converse of this is that if we're feeling happy and positive about the food we're putting into our body, the muscles of our gut are far more likely to relax and be in the best state to digest the food - which explains why we can feel good after eating specific foods.

This mentality also comes into play when we feel great about not putting foods together, and this is no bad thing. So it's really up to what you think suits you.

As for fruit after a meal, again there is no nutritional or physical reason why it shouldn't be eaten at this time, as we have the enzymes and the ability to deal with it.

The people this might affect are those with genuine digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux, who may find that fruit sits uncomfortably or causes symptoms such as heartburn, as fruits contain quite a lot of natural acids.

But, nutritionally, there are strong reasons for having fruit after a meal: the vitamin C it contains helps the body to absorb iron, which is important for building new cells. Most vitamins and minerals are best utilized when consumed as part of a complex mixture of foods. For instance, foods high in vitamin C (such as fruits) boost the body's absorption of nonheme iron from grains. That's one reason fruit and whole grains make such a good breakfast combination. Variety aids digestion, rather than making it more difficult.

It is beneficial to eat fruit after a protein meal rather than having fruit on an empty stomach. The protein helps slow down the absorption of sugar, preventing the sugar swings that can unsettle some people.

By Jane Clarke