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Food Combining

Food Combining: Welcome

This material is derived from work published by Howard Hay, M.D., Daniel C. Monro, M.D., L.M. Rogers, M.D. and George Goodheart, D.C.’s observations from over fifty years in practice.Dr. Goodheart was perhaps one of the finest clinicians of our generation and practiced well into his 80’s.  It was a great loss to mankind when he died in March 2008 at 89 years of age.  I had the honor of lecturing with him in San Diego in March 2001.


When we eat what we eat has a lot to do with how much good we get from it.

The proper combination of foods has had much said on it and there has been some controversy. From all the known facts and informed opinions leads to one conclusion. Despite encountering resistance from those to whom the idea is a new one, those to whom eating bread and potatoes with meats seems so natural that they can’t accept the thought that such a combination is a bad one. Many of our oldest habits are unsound and should be changed, not lightly or for a whim, but with convincing reason.

The theory of dietetics is based upon the hypothesis that inadequate absorption of food causes degeneration of tissue, and that for perfect metabolism do not combine foods high in starches with food high in proteins or fats in the same meal. It is, of course, impossible not to combine proteins and carbohydrates in the same meal .Practically all foods have some protein, some carbohydrate or some fat.However, a meal can be predominantly protein or predominantly carbohydrate.

The contention of these doctors is that a combination of high protein and high starches inhibits the absorption of all the nutritive factors of foods and results in an unnecessary burden upon the entire digestive apparatus.

It is well known that many illnesses are due to deficiencies of certain essential food factors–vitamins and minerals. These deficiencies produce degeneration of certain tissues, and this degeneration results in loss of resistance. Infections then invade us and produce disease. It is not enough to have the essential elements in the food we eat–they must actually be utilized by our bodies, they must be available to our tissues.

Thus, it is possible to eat large quantities of nutritious foods and get no benefit at all from them if we eat other foods at the same time that interfere with the proper digestion of vitamin and mineral bearing foods. If we eat cheese, rich in calcium, and at the time it reaches our small intestine, an alkaline digestive process is going on there, then very little (if any) of that calcium will be available to us. The calcium will make a chemical combination with the alkali and become non-absorbable, it will pass through and out of our body unused! No matter how much cheese we eat, we may still suffer from calcium deficiency–if the calcium is not absorbed. But if this food reaches the small intestine when an acid condition is present, much of the calcium will be utilized.

Obviously then, we must be certain that when we eat cheese, our small intestine will be acid and not alkaline. But How? The answer is clear and incontrovertible: by not eating any high carbohydrates at the same time.

When we eat carbohydrates – starches and sugars – our small intestine becomes alkaline, and a condition is created by which essential factors in other foods cannot be used. These same carbohydrates may interfere with the digestion of certain proteins in the stomach itself, and partially digested protein food actually becomes toxic material. Research has found that proteins may be split up by imperfect digestion into large protein molecules that may be absorbed into circulation as macro-molecules, which then initiate a cascade of immunologic reactions that can cause symptoms and disease. Instead of being split up into smaller molecules (amino acids) proteins eaten with carbohydrates may actually become toxic due to incomplete digestion, absorption to our tissues, such as, the allergy producing and poisonous amines.

These are two distinctly different types of digestion: an acid digestion for proteins (meat, fish, eggs, and cheese) and an alkaline digestion for carbohydrates (sugars and starches).

All physiologists agree that proteins are digested largely in the stomach , by the gastric juice, which is acid in reaction. One of the most important constituents of the gastric juice is hydrochloric acid. Another important ingredient of gastric juice is pepsin, which splits protein only in an acid medium. In other words the stomach must be acid in order to digest protein.

Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are not digested in the stomach, but are digested largely in the small intestine, principally by the pancreas secretions, which are alkaline. One of the most important constituents of this process is amylase, which splits the starch only in an alkaline medium. On their way through the stomach to the small intestine, the carbohydrates not only inhibit the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach but also combine with some of the free hydrochloric acid there.

Fats follow a different course – they leave the stomach largely unchanged and upon entering the small intestine cause the gall bladder to empty bile into the small intestine. Bile emulsifies the fat and releases fatty acids, which can neutralize alkaline secretions in the small intestine. If these fatty acids are produced in the intestine while carbohydrates are being digested there, the alkaline secretions that are part of the carbohydrate digestion will be neutralized, and the action of the amylase will be inhibited. The undigested carbohydrates will be left free to ferment and produce gas.

Hence the following rule, which is not only logical and physiologically sound, but has been proved highly valuable by clinical observation:

RULE 1: Do not combine pure fats (butter, cream, bacon fat) with high starches (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, cereal, sweets) at any one meal. If you’re having primarily carbohydrates at a meal don’t eat any fats. If you’re having potatoes for lunch and a sweet dessert, don’t put butter or sour cream on your potatoes. Likewise, if you’re having fats don’t eat any carbohydrates. If you’re having bacon or eggs for breakfast, don’t eat cereal or bread.

In the past many physicians have practiced this rule unconsciously, by advising patients to cut out all fats and high starches, or greatly restrict them. Obviously this produced good results, because patients who ate neither could not combine pure fats and high starches. But, with a restriction of fats there was always the serious danger of running into a deficiency of essential fat-soluble vitamins and fatty acids. Neither fats nor starches have to be eliminated or restricted on that basis in most cases. Simply eat them at different times.

Interesting evidence that the high starches and pure fats are incompatible came as a sidelight from the observations of Dr. Joslin in his famous diabetic clinic in Boston. He established the fact that if you cut down in high fats in diabetic diets, you can add more carbohydrates without getting any increase of sugar in the urine; without increasing insulin, if it is an insulin case.

Primitive man did not eat fats with carbohydrates. The food had fat in the animal meat; but in millions of years he never found lumps of pure fat attached to any vegetable (carbohydrate) foods. As he evolved he never needed to digest fats and starches at the same meal – he never developed such mechanism – and today we still haven’t any.

Eat fats with meats, or with any other proteins – fish, eggs or cheese. In fact you must be sure to eat fats with meat, they not only can be combined but they must be combined.

One of the most important studies ever made on an exclusive high protein and fat diet, was conducted by explorers Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Karsten Andersen. The purpose of the test was to demonstrate that man could live on a purely animal diet in our climate for an indefinite time, and in this case it was extended over a period of one full year. The conclusions reached by this study were: (a) It is possible for man to live for long periods on meat alone. (b) No ill effects whatever were recorded. (c) The diet, in order to be adequate had to contain large quantities of fat, some liver, and that lean meat alone was not tolerated. (d) The tissues of one animal contain everything that is essential for another animal, in this case, man.

Important clinical observations in this test support the thesis that there is greater absorption of foodstuffs when eaten in the proper combinations. There was much greater absorption, no gas and a distinct simplification of putrefactive organisms in the intestine. There was no constipation. A further important observation was that both men showed no increase in blood pressure, and one of them actually showed a decrease of 20mm in his systolic pressure.

This experience and its conclusion was that fats and proteins are an excellent combination. Since protein is digested largely in the stomach by acids, and since the pepsin only works in an acid medium, when pepsin and protein get into the small intestine, if fats are being digested there at the same time and they have liberated enough fatty acid to acidify the intestine and prolong the action of pepsin so that the digestion of the protein would be carried further. Fats, proteins, acids, they all go together and help each other. Associate in your mind: fats with proteins with acids.

It’s a different story with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are digested by alkalies. Naturally, if any acid is combined with carbohydrates it will tend to neutralize the alkaline digestive juices they need. The more acid present, the more alkaline secretion will be required to neutralize the acid before it can begin to digest the carbohydrates.

RULE 2: Don’t combine acids and carbohydrates. Don’t take buttermilk, orange juice, lemon juice, grapefruit juice or vinegar at any meal that also includes high starches and sugars.

Patients have often said they “can not take orange juice because it causes an acid stomach.” On questioning they have had it at breakfast with cereals, toast or other carbohydrates. When told to take it alone or with protein foods only, they did so with great satisfaction and no bad effects.

If you have had trouble with orange juice, just try it with bacon and eggs only.

It should be remembered, of course, that many healthy people combine orange juice and starches without feeling any distress or evidence of impaired digestion. But the impairment goes on just the same! Every time a healthy person combines acids and starches he is making trouble for his digestion, he is getting less value from his foods, and he is hurting himself. The body has remarkable ability to adjust itself to the most terrible treatment. You have heard many people exclaim, “I have the digestion of a horse,” or, “I could eat nails and it wouldn’t hurt me.” Fifteen years later some of these people are wrecks.

RULE 3: Do not combine high proteins (meat, fish, eggs or cheese) with high starches (potatoes, cereals, breads, sweets) at the same meal.

This prohibition is based not only on extensive clinical findings but also on sound physiology. Let us review the evidence. We know that proteins require acid for their digestion in the stomach. We know that carbohydrates require alkalies for their digestion in the small intestine.

Some years ago in a Mayo Clinic study on sugars two things were made clear:

1. Sugars inhibit the secretion of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

2. Sugars combine with the free hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

Both of these actions, by lessening the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, interfere with the digestion of proteins, which must have that acid. Conversely, if proteins are being digested in the stomach and there is more acid there for the sugar to combine with (pick up and take along to the small intestine), then it will require just so much more alkaline secretion from the pancreas to neutralize the extra acid before it goes to work on the sugar. And the same is true of starches that are potential sugars. Not only do the sugars interfere with the digestion of the proteins, but the proteins make more difficult the digestion of the sugars!

In a study reported in the American Journal of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (1936) a graph showed the acidity of the stomach contents at varying times from five subjects; first after protein meals, then after starch meals, then after a combined protein and starch meal. After the meals, the stomach contents of the protein meal were most acid, the starch meal least acid and the mixed meal half way between.

100 c.c. of the protein meal stomach contents required 60 c.c. of the alkaline solution to neutralize the free acid, and the graph was going up sharply.

100 c.c. of the starch meal contents required only 20 c.c. of the alkaline solution to neutralize the free acid and the graph was falling rapidly.

100 c.c. of the mixed meal stomach contents required 40 c.c. of the alkaline solution to neutralize its acid, and the graph was coming down very slowly.

This means that when the starch meal entered the small intestine comparatively little alkali would be required to neutralize the acid it had “picked up” in the stomach, but when the mixed meal reached the small intestine just twice as much alkaline pancreatic secretion would be needed to neutralize its acid before starch digestion could begin.

It is also clear that when the mixed meal was eaten, the proteins in it were being digested under difficult conditions. Instead of the normal acidity required, as shown by the all-protein meal, the acidity was reduced. The starches cut the acidity to one-third less! Just such conditions are most likely to produce imperfectly split up proteins – the large toxic protein molecule.

When high proteins and high carbohydrates are mixed, this investigation proves, there is not enough acid to digest the protein part readily, and too much acid to digest the starch readily.

Now the bad effects of this abuse are not always immediately apparent. The digestion of youth has abundant juices but improper food combination places an extra burden. If we deplete that abundance, dip into our reserve power of accommodation, by the time we reach mid adulthood impaired digestion is evident. This may not make itself known by distressing symptoms, but the digestion is nevertheless chemically impaired. This contributes to an increasing deficiency of food elements, and that, in turn, leads to more tissue degeneration. Minor disturbances are directly created, serious diseases are made more probable, and one more obstacle is raised to our being able to live a full, long life of glowing health.Those with perfect health at present, please take note.

Nearly all foods contain some starch elements and some protein elements. This fact has misled many doctors since it seems to indicate the mixture of starches and proteins is natural and therefore presumably healthful.

Meat does contain carbohydrate – but in a form unlike other carbohydrates – glycogen. This is a carbohydrate was eaten by the animal and then metabolized and stored in its muscles. Little digestion, if any, on our part is required to make this sugar ready to be absorbed – it is ready to be absorbed as soon as it is liberated from the protein of the meat.

Similarly, the amount of protein in starchy vegetables is small indeed in proportion, and because of its negligible quantity presents none of the difficulties in digestion that result from combining large quantities of high protein with high starches.

While man, as he evolved, developed two types of digestion for the types of food he ate, other animals confined themselves to one type of food and correspondingly one type of digestion. What do they show us?

Herbivorous animals, such as the cow or sheep, eating only vegetable food, have specialized on alkaline digestion. They are equipped to eat large quantities of food in proportion to their size, compared to humans. They all first alkalinize their food by prolonged chewing (their saliva being alkali), and they all rechew their food (chewing the cud). They all have a large sack or pouch where man has his tiny appendix.

Carnivorous animals, such as lions or wild dogs, have specialized acid digestion. They bolt their food in large pieces and chew it as little as possible, if at all. Actually the less they chew it, the better it is for them. An experimental study was carried out at the Mayo Clinic in which dogs were fed meat fed in large chunks or meat ground up, and the contents of the small intestine examined for the results of digestion. The big pieces were digested far better than the ground meat.

It is highly significant that meat-eating animals have no appendix or a very small one. Man, with his small appendix, seems on this basis to fit the meat-eating animals, rather than the herbivorous animals with their large pouches. Our inability to handle starches and sugars advantageously seems to stem from fundamental physical sources. This parallels the findings from which the Page Fundamental Diet plan was developed and has been borne out over several decades.

With the atrophy of our appendix, we lost our ability to get enough protein from vegetable sources to produce the bet possible physical man. We cannot chew our cud.

According to Goodheart, when we eat meat, we should chew it as little as possible; but when we, like herbivorous animals, eat vegetable food, we should, like them, chew well and thoroughly.

Americans are notoriously calcium-deficient. Not because we don’t eat foods rich in calcium, but largely because we don’t eat them in combination or form in which the calcium can be assimilated. Animals never eat high proteins and high carbohydrates at the same meal. They have excellent teeth, they have strong bones, and they take no calcium supplements.

As mentioned earlier improperly digested proteins which, instead of splitting up into their proper end-products, split up into intermediate or large protein molecules that are actually toxic. Some of these molecules are the substance called histamine, an irritant and vasodilator associated with allergies such hay fever, asthma, eczema, coryza, migraine headaches and general malaise. Goodheart observations gave him unmistakable indications that mixed diets (combinations of fats with starches or high proteins with high carbohydrates) produce more histamine in the system than the combinations he recommended.

Histaminase is a substance developed from the intestines of certain food animals, it has the property of splitting up histamine and thus destroying its toxic effect. It serves as a way of testing for histamine and for finding the extent bad food combinations produce toxic results. Goodheart found that when patients eat a mixed meal, they require more histaminase to control their symptoms than when they eat proteins only or carbohydrates only! He concluded that the mixed diet produced more histamine! Many allergic patients, in fact, lost their symptoms entirely by simply avoiding bad food combinations; they actually lost their hay fever or headaches by eating the kind of meals he recommended. However, as soon as they slipped and ate an unwise meal, back came the symptoms.

Although theoretical physiology, laboratory tests and other research confirm it, your own experience must be equally convincing for you.

Extracts from the adrenal gland controls allergic reactions. According to Goodheart, the adrenal gland takes care of the normal amount of histamine produced in the body; but when years of improper food habits have given us certain deficiencies and degeneration’s, the combination of excess histamine and food deficiencies depletes the adrenal glands, the control is lost, allergic reactions appear more readily and we are well on our way to serious bodily degeneration.The evidence on histamine production alone was sufficient to justify his recommendations on the food combinations!

The Amino Acids

Not all proteins are of equal value in nutrition. Proteins vary widely in chemical composition and in their ability to satisfy the body’s requirement of nitrogen; they vary in the degree to which they supply the amino acids essential for tissue building and tissue repair. Ten amino acids have been shown to be essential to human nutrition and must be consumed in the diet since they can not be manufactured by humans.

The value of any protein is measured by its ability to supply some or all of these essential amino acids.A protein is called complete if it supplies all of essential amino acids. Unfortunately few proteins are ideal and therefore the diet must be properly varied from not only the muscle tissue of animals but also the connective tissues and tissues from their organs, plus eggs. Eating in this manner will usually supply all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantity.

Goodheart’s Dietary Rules for Health

The general rule is to be sure you eat enough of the vital food elements; and be sure you eat them in the right combinations.

  1. Eat all kinds of meats, fish, eggs, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits (and carbohydrates only if you must) as the safest way to avoid deficiencies.

  2. Do not combine pure fats (butter, cream or bacon) with high starches (potatoes, cereals, breads, cakes or sweets) in any one meal.

  3. Do not combine acids (citrus juice, vinegar, buttermilk) with high starches at any one meal.

  4. Do not combine high proteins (meats, fish eggs, cheese) with high starches at any one meal.

  5. Eat fats freely with proteins and acid solutions.

  6. Be sure you get enough of each essential nutritional element as follows:

  • Meat, fish, fowl and eggs: One serving of each, or two servings of one per day with butter or other fat.

  • Milk, buttermilk, or cheese: Two glasses of raw organic milk or buttermilk, or two and one-half ounces of cheese a day (or one glass of milk or buttermilk plus an ounce or more of cheese).

  • Raw, low-starch fruits and raw green and yellow vegetables: Two servings a day or one large salad bowl a day.

  • 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls of a plain cod liver oil, or its equivalent in other fish liver oils, or their concentrates in capsules. But if you use capsules, then be sure to take plenty butter fats and cream; your liver must have fats, if it is going to make bile for you.

  • If you are a carbohydrate eater, supplement with yeast or other equivalent Vitamin B Complex. Other natural fats and oils may also be necessary as the fact remains that natural fats and oils are absolutely necessary in ample quantities for natural, healthy metabolism.

How quickly you feel noticeable improvement depends largely on how good your health is to begin with, and how bad your eating habits have been in the past.

1. If you are now in fine health, have been eating plenty of protein, have no digestive troubles, no marked deficiencies, you may experience no detectable effects of this diet in one month’s time.But you will later. If you will come around in ten years’ time I can tell if you have been following perfect eating habits by just looking at you.

2. If you now suffer from occasional flatulence, indigestion, “acidity” and gas, a month on this regimen with no cheating will work wonders. Your ailments will probably disappear.

3. If you now feel “all right” but sluggish and under par, if you have been eating unwisely–too much carbohydrates and not enough of the other food factors – you will experience a new feeling of wellbeing and full health which perhaps you did not believe possible.

Be certain to eat enough high proteins without fear of eating too much unless you have no control over your appetite or have a specific medical condition that dictates otherwise. Although you may continue to exist on a relatively low protein intake, there is ample evidence that a more liberal intake favors the development of better physique and improvement of general health. Any excess of proteins, above your body’s requirement for growth and repair of tissue is used as body heat and energy.

Food Combining: Welcome
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