Food Combining Rules

4. Food Combining Rules

4.1 Acid-Starch Combinations and Protein-Carbohydrate Combinations

The preceding discussion leads up to the presentation of the first two food combining rules, which I consider to be by far the most important of all these rules and the ones which should be thoroughly understood and implemented at all possible times.

  1. Never eat carbohydrate foods and acid foods at the same meal.
  2. Never eat a concentrated protein and a concentrated carbohydrate at the same meal.

The purpose of this lesson is to help you to understand the reasons for these rules; Lesson No. 23 will help you to learn to implement them.

4.2 Protein-Protein Combinations

  1. Never consume two concentrated proteins at the same meal.

Two concentrated proteins of different character and composition (such as nuts and cheese) should not be combined. Gastric acidity, type, strength and timing of secretions for various proteins are not uniform. Since concentrated protein is more difficult to digest than other food elements, incompatible combinations of two different concentrated proteins should be avoided. Some people with impaired digestions find it necessary to limit themselves to only one variety of nuts/and or seeds at a sitting, but other people may find, upon experimentation, that two or three varieties of nuts or seeds may be used at the same meal, if desired.

4.3 Protein-Fat Combinations

  1. Do not consume fats with proteins.

Our need for concentrated fat is small and moil protein foods already contain a good deal of fat. Most nuts contain about 10 percent to 20 percent protein, and about 45 percent to 70 percent fat. Avocados contain about 1.3 percent protein (Florida varieties) to about 2.2 percent or a little more (California varieties) and 11 percent to 17 percent fat. Most other protein foods are high in fat, including cheese, eggs and flesh foods. The only protein foods not high in lat are legumes, skim milk cheese and lean meat.

Fat has an inhibiting influence on digestive secretion and lessen the amount and activity of pepsin and hydrochloric acid, necessary for the digestion of protein. The fat may lower the entire digestive tone more than 50 percent. Since most proteins already contain a good deal of fat, it would certainly be contraindicated to add more to the meal.

4.4 Fats in Combination with Other Foods

  1. Use fats sparingly.

Fats also delay the digestion of other foods and, if used with starch, it will delay the passage of the starch from the stomach into the intestine. Fat not only inhibits the secretion of gastric juice—it also inhibits the physical actions of the stomach. Too much fat taken with a meal results in acid eructations and a burning sensation in the throat. When fats (avocados or nuts) are eaten with green vegetables, preferably raw, the inhibiting effect of fats on gastric secretion is counteracted and digestion proceeds quite normally. The use of fat (avocados) with starch is considered acceptable, provided a green salad is included in the meal.

Avocados: Though not a high-protein food, avocados contain more protein than milk. They are high in fat and the small percentage of protein they do contain is of high biological value. They are best used with a salad meal. Since they are so high in fat that they tend to slow down the digestion of foods normally requiring a shorter digestion time, they are perhaps only a fair combination with subacid and acid fruit. They are usually considered a poor combination with sweet fruit, especially dried sweet fruit. However, let us consider some recent work on this subject.

In an article on this topic, Dr. Vetrano says that exceptions may sometimes be made in combining avocados with fresh sweet fruit, such as bananas, but that avocados should not be combined with dried sweet fruit, unless it has been soaked overnight. She also says, “Eating avocados with salad enhances their digestion. The next best combination for the avocado is taking it with subacid or acid fruit. The fat in the food does not seem to interfere with the emptying time of the stomach and we have excellent results with this combination. The protein, which is about 2.1 to 2.5 percent, is not sufficient to interfere with the digestion of fruit. It is even better when lettuce leaves and celery are eaten with the fruit and avocado. By diluting the fats and the sugars with the lettuce, the emptying time of the stomach is not depressed.

Those who have weak stomachs with poor muscle tone would probably do better by taking avocado only with vegetable salads. If lettuce is taken with a sweet fresh fruit and avocado, even these digest well. It is probably best to never combine avocado with sweet dried fruit unless it is just a small amount of both eaten with a great deal of vegetables.”

Since the avocado is low in protein, it may also be used with potatoes or other starch foods. Some
people like to use avocado with the potato instead of using butter. However, I must reiterate, the best way to use avocado is with the salad.

Avocados should never be used with nuts, which are also high in fat, nor should they be used with melons.

The only fats we have considered here are nuts (a protein/fat food) and avocados (a low-protein/fat food). Other fats will be listed in the food classification chart in Lesson 23, but they are not recommended for regular use. Most of them should never be used.

4.5 Acid-Protein Combinations

  1. Do not eat acid fruits with proteins.

Citrus, (tomatoes: see discussion), pineapple, strawberries and other acid fruits should not be eaten with nuts, cheese, eggs or meat. Acid fruits inhibit the flow of gastric juice. The digestion of protein requires an unhampered flow.

This is one rule that has given rise to some disagreement and controversy. Although Dr. Shelton includes in this rule the prohibition of citrus and tomatoes with nuts and cheese, he goes on to say that nuts and fresh cheese do not decompose when used with acids, but have their digestion delayed. He also says that acids do not inhibit the flow of gastric juice any more than does the oil of nuts or the cream of cheese.

Many Hygienists use tomatoes with nuts and believe they cause no problem. Citrus fruits present a different situation, due to the sugar in the fruit, which can ferment if its digestion is delayed by the nuts. Various experiments with the use of citrus fruits combined with nuts have produced differing results. Some Hygienists continue to use citrus with nuts.

If sweet oranges are used at the same meal with nuts, the precaution of waiting thirty to sixty minutes after eating the citrus is sometimes observed. Grapefruit might be better suited to combining with nuts, since it usually has a much lower sugar content.

Citrus fruit is best used alone but may be combined with other acid fruits; nuts are best used with salad.

Dr. Shelton modified this rule somewhat on Page 52 of Food Combining Made Easy: “Although green vegetables form the ideal combination with nuts, acid fruits form a fair combination with these foods and may be taken with them.”

Dr. Percy Howe, of Harvard, says: “Many people who cannot eat oranges at a meal derive great benefit from eating them fifteen to thirty minutes before the meal.”

Dr. Vetrano is convinced from her experience at the Health School that nuts should not be used with citrus fruit and she discontinued this practice some years ago.

A corollary of this same subject is the use of some subacid fruits with nuts or cheese-primarily tart or semi-sweet apples, although some other fruits which are usually considered subacid are sometimes used in this way. The same principles would apply as with the use of oranges with nuts, provided the sweeter subacid fruits, such as Delicious apples, are not used.

Such acid-protein combinations as sour salad dressings and acid fruit drinks used at conventional meals serve as a check to hydrochloric secretion.

4.6 Sugar with Starch, Protein and Acid Fruit

  1. Do not combine sweet fruits with foods that require a long digestive time-foods such as proteins, starches and acid fruits.

The sugars in sweet fruit should be tree to leave the stomach quickly, in perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes, and are apt to ferment if digestion is delayed by mixture with other foods.

Sugar-starch combinations cause additional problems.

When sugar is taken, the mouth quickly fills with saliva, but no ptyalin is present. Ptyalin is essential for starch digestion. If starch is disguised by sugar, honey, molasses, syrup or sweet fruit, the signals are scrambled and digestion is impaired.

Monosaccharides and disaccharides ferment more quickly than polysaccharides. (See definitions) No digestion of sugars takes place in the mouth or stomach; fermentation is inevitable if sugars of any kind are delayed in the stomach awaiting the digestion of starch, protein or acid fruit.

Sugar also has a marked inhibiting effect on the flow of gastric juice and on gastric motility. No other food depresses the action of the stomach and the desire for food as does sugar.

4.7 Starch-Starch Combinations

  1. Eat but one concentrated starch at a meal.

This rule is probably more important as a means of avoiding the overeating of starches than as a means of avoiding bad combinations. But it is true that starch foods may differ greatly. If two different starches are eaten together in small quantities, this is thought to not cause problems.

Slightly starchy vegetables may be combined with more starchy vegetables (e.g. carrots with potatoes), but not with combination foods (starch/protein foods) such as grains and legumes.

4.8 Acid Fruits, Subacid Fruits, Sweet Fruits

  1. Acid fruits may be used with subacid fruits.

This is an acceptable combination, though some subacid fruits are rather high in sugar and the acid fruit may delay the sugar’s normally quick exit from the stomach. However, there is no sharp line of division between the acid and subacid fruits. If combining subacid fruit with acid fruit, it is better to use only the less subacid fruit.

The acid fruits are those with the tart flavors, for example, citrus, pineapple, strawberries, and certain varieties of apples and other fruits. Tomatoes are also considered acid fruit (without the sugar content of other acid fruit). Tomatoes should not be combined with subacid fruit, nor any other kinds of fruit.

They are best combined with the salad at a meal at which no starchy foods are served. Do not use acid fruits with sweet fruits, as previously indicated.

Acid fruits are best used alone (a single variety), but if used in combination with other acid fruits, this is considered an acceptable combination.

  1. Subacid fruits may be used with sweet fruits.

There is no sharp line of division between subacid fruits and sweet fruits. When using subacid fruits with sweet fruits, it is best to use the sweeter varieties of subacid fruit. The subacid fruits are those that possess a slightly acid flavor (but not tart), such as pears, certain apples, grapes, etc. Grapes, for example, can be acid, subacid or sweet. The sweet fruits are those that are rich in sugar and taste sweet-bananas, persimmons, sweet grapes, and so forth, and all dried fruit.

Some people prefer to eat bananas alone, but most people have no difficulty in combining them with subacid and other sweet fruit at a fruit meal. Dr. Shelton says, “While I have found that bananas combine fairly well with dates, raisins, grapes and a few other sweet fruits and with green leafy
vegetables, such as lettuce and celery, I have noted that they digest best if eaten alone. This calls, to mind the fact that Tilden, also, after much testing of the matter, reached the conclusion that bananas are best eaten alone.”

Dried sweet fruits should be used sparingly. Use but one kind at a meal, in small amounts, combined only with subacid fruit and/or fresh sweet fruit and/or with lettuce and/or celery. Overeating of dried fruits .will often bring on symptoms similar to a “cold”. The sugar concentration is naturally greater in fruits which have been dried. Some dried fruits, esp. dried apricots, should be soaked overnight to replenish the missing water. Dates are usually used without soaking, figs or raisins can be used either way. If they are rather hard, soaking will soften and improve them.

Dr. Vetrano recommends using as little soaking water as possible, soaking one side at a time, so all water will be absorbed, thus avoiding loosing flavor and nutrients. It is important that the water used for soaking be distilled water.

Sweet fruits combine fairly well with subacid fruits, provided the subacid fruits are on the “sweet side,” for example, use Delicious apples, not Macintosh or Jonathans, with sweet fruit.

It is best to have these fruits at a fruit meal combining only with lettuce and/or celery. Since fruits are usually high in acids or sugars, they do not combine well with other foods.

4.9 Fruits with Vegetables

  1. Do not combine fruit with any vegetables except lettuce and celery.

It is best not to combine fruits with vegetables (especially cooked vegetables), proteins or starches because if such a combination of food is eaten, the digestion of the fruit will be delayed and subject to fermentation. Lettuce and celery, however, may be combined with any fruit except melon, and will cause no problem.

Dr. Vetrano says, “Taking green uncooked vegetables with a fruit meal is perfectly all right. Even though some charts state that subacid and sweet fruits combine fair to poorly with green uncooked vegetables, the feeding practices at the Health School indicate that these are good combinations, indeed, even enhancing digestion of the fruit in some conditions of impaired digestion.”

4.10 Salads

  1. Salads combine very well with proteins or starches.

Any nonstarchy vegetables may be combined with proteins or starch, except tomatoes, which should especially not be used with starches. The green leafy vegetables combine very well with most other foods. They are excellent food and should be used in the diet.

Lettuce and other green and nonstarchy vegetables leave the stomach with little change—they pass through the stomach rapidly unless delayed by oily dressings or foods that require a more thorough gastric digestion. Lettuce and celery are good combination with fruit because all of these foods require little gastric digestion.

However, even if these vegetables are held up in the stomach with other foods, as when using salad with nuts, there is no fermentation.

Eating a large salad of fresh raw vegetables (three or four varieties) daily is an excellent practice. Dr. Shelton says, “A large bowl of salad each day is required by everyone.”

4.11 Take Melons Alone

  1. Do not consume melons with any other foods.

This rule has been somewhat under question in recent years. I personally have found that eating melons alone is an excellent practice, and have even found it advisable not to mix two different varieties of melon at the same meal.

Many people who have complained that melons did not agree with them have no trouble handling them when eating only melon at a meal. Yet, certain Hygienic professionals are offering some post-fasting people more than one variety of melon at a meal (even melons in combination with grapes or other subacid fruit) and some Hygienists follow this practice. If you want to experiment with these combinations, do it sparingly and carefully. But if you have a history of digestive problems, don’t do it at all.

Melons are more than 90 percent liquid and leave the stomach quickly if not delayed and fermented by combining with other foods. Dr. Vetrano says, “Melons are best taken alone because the sugar and other nutriments are in a less stable form than the nutrients of other fruits. Orange juice may be kept in the refrigerator for an hour with little change in flavor, but if you refrigerate watermelon juice for only ten minutes, its flavor, color and composition markedly change. It decomposes much more quickly than other fruits. Consequently, if it is held in the stomach awaiting the digestion of other foods, it will decompose (ferment) and cause a great deal of gastric distress. Eating watermelon with nuts can really be troublesome.”

Dr. Shelton says, “Because of the ease with which melons decompose, they do not combine with any food, except, perhaps, with certain fruits. We always feed them alone, not between meals, but at meal time.”

He also says, “It is probably a great misfortune that we do not always feel the direct effects of imprudent eating immediately following a meal. For example, there are large numbers of people who have discomfort, even great discomfort following a meal in which melons are eaten with other foods, but there are many others who do not. This latter group can see no connection between their life of imprudent eating and the breakdown of their health in later years. Their apparent impunity prompts them to defy all the same rules of life.”

4.12 Sprouts

  1. Alfalfa sprouts may be combined as a green vegetable.

Other sprouts should properly be classified in the same category as the original seed, even though the sprouting process has somewhat lowered the protein and carbohydrate content.

During the sprouting process, the carbohydrate and protein components of the sprouting seed tend to diminish, and the composition becomes more like a green vegetable instead of a legume, grain or seed. However, this is not uniformly the case. Sprouts which progress to the green leaf stage, such as alfalfa and mung beans, are high in chlorophyll, and alfalfa sprouts, particularly, may be freely combined as a green vegetable. Mung bean sprouts still retain enough of the property of legumes so that they are best eaten without other proteins or starches. These sprouts may be included in the low protein/starch category.

Lentils, soybeans, garbanzos and other miscellaneous beans and grains should be allowed to sprout only very briefly, until just a small sprout is showing—no longer than the seed, at most. The change in character is therefore much less than for those sprouts which are sprouted to the green leaf stage. Sprouts are high in protein in these early stages. They should therefore be classified, with some expectations, according to their original food categories, namely, as protein or combination protein/starch foods.

Sprouted sunflower seeds may, of course, continue to be classified as protein. In the case of lentil, soybean and garbanzo sprouts, they could be classified as low protein, since the starch tends to diminish and the protein remains in significant amounts in the early stages of sprouting.

I would classify sprouted grains as combination foods, their original category, to be combined as starch.

My experimentation with these sprouts, and my research on the subject, leads me to these conclusions as the best way to classify and combine them. More detailed information about sprouts and sprouting will be given in a future lesson.

4.13 Milk, Yogurt and Clabber

  1. Milk is best taken alone.

This rule is included because it is one of Dr. Shelton’s food combining rules, and because this lesson on food combining may be helpful to those still on a mixed diet. Hygienists do not drink milk. Adults do not need any kind of milk. Infants need their mother’s milk; if this is not available, they need a substitute. (More about this in a future lesson.)

Dr. Shelton says that the use of acid fruits with milk does not cause any trouble and apparently does not conflict with its digestion. This would also apply to clabber (sour milk) or yogurt, which may be preferable to milk for adults.

Many adults (and some children) lack the enzymes lactase and rennin necessary for the digestion of milk. Lactase catalyzes the conversion of lactose (milk sugar) to the glucose and galactose which can be utilized by the body. Rennin is a milk-coagulating enzyme, which many adults no longer secrete.

This is also the reason that cheese is considered preferable to milk, although no dairy products are recommended for regular use.

The thymus gland, which also has a function involved in the digestion of dairy products, reaches its maximum development during early childhood, and usually degenerates and becomes vestigial in adults.

None of these products are recommended. If any milk products are used, they should be raw (unpasteurized) and should not be used on a regular basis. Yogurt cultures, particularly, can inhibit the body’s own natural production of beneficial intestinal flora.

Dr. Shelton says that either sweet milk or sour milk (clabber) is a fair combination with acid fruit or subacid fruit, and that clabber is even a fair combination with dried sweet fruit.

Dr. Vetrano says that occasionally there are sick people with gastrointestinal problems who must temporarily be placed on milk, if they cannot take a fast of sufficient length for complete healing.

More information about the inadvisability of using fermented foods like yogurt, clabber or cheese will be included in a future lesson.

4.14 Good, Fair, Poor and Bad Combinations

When we say that foods are fair combinations, this means that they are permissible for those with unimpaired digestions. Good combinations are good for the weakest digestion.

Poor combinations should never be employed, unless, perhaps, they are used occasionally by people with the best digestions. Some combinations are so bad that no one should ever use them.

Examples of these precepts will be given in Lesson No. 23.

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