Food combining for better health

Saladby Elizabeth Montgomery, Holistic Nutritional Therapist

Many people are only eating for pleasure, or for the short term ‘feel good’ factor that comfort foods can bring. Far too few equate the food on their plate with any nagging health symptoms – bloating, wind or chronic bad breath, leading to chronically bad health.

Ancient traditional and natural health systems like Chinese medicine,  naturopathy, and modern day nutritional medicine, consider the digestive tract to be the potential place of most health issues.  The key to health, prevention and wellness, is not only found in proper diet and lifestyle choices, but also in understanding food combining rules for digestive tract health.

Food combining

Food combining awareness has been around for several decades. The science behind it lies in the fact that different enzymes are required to breakdown different foods. For example, the enzymes to breakdown protein are produced in the stomach, and the ones for starches in the mouth. If too many foods that require differing enzymes are eaten together, then this can lead to: indigestion, rancidity and fermentation. The end result of this eventually leads to uncomfortable symptoms like; bloating, constipation and excess wind.

Golden rules for food combining:

·    Avoid eating dense protein (especially animal based) together with starchy carbs. Poor examples are; chicken and potatoes, pasta with meat balls, cheese on toast, or nuts on porridge. Positive examples are: goats cheese salad, mackerel with a salad and green beans, lentil soup with side salad or humous served with carrot sticks.

·    Avoid drinking 30 minutes before meals so that digestive enzymes aren’t diluted, and wait for at least two hours after. A small amount of liquid with meals is OK. Aim for 6-8 glasses of pure filtered water daily.

·    Fruit must be eaten alone, never together with protein or carbs, and ideally first thing in the morning. Fruit only takes around 30 min to digest and other foods take at least 2 hours. Melons also take a bit longer – so must be eaten alone or left alone!

·    Avocados (technically a fruit) go well with either vegetables or fruit, as do onions and garlic.

·    Low starchy vegetables combine well with denser proteins. Aim for plenty of green vegetables to ease the digestive transit time.

Where possible include plenty of fresh organic vegetables,  drink adequate amounts of water and incorporating these basic food combinations into your daily routine. The results will be greater health, and a vast reduction in uncomfortable digestive upsets. Try it and feel the difference!

Elizabeth Montgomery is a London-based Holistic Nutritional Therapist who has been studying and exploring; nutrition, eastern medicine, astrology and medicine way healing practices for many years.To find out more:


 The healthiest foods you can eat:

•Alfalfa : grow your own sprouted seeds which are high in Vitamins A, B, C, E and K, calcium and silicon, rich in enzymes and complete proteins
•Almonds : rich in protein, Vitamin B, potassium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus
•Apples : high in Vitamin C and pectin which binds to heavy toxic metals and excretes them
•Asparagus: high in beta-carotene, Vitamin C and selenium, good for a healthy heart, protects against cell damage
Avocado: excellent source of Vitamins A, C, E, potassium, and mono-unsaturated fats
•Beans: kidney beans and adzuki beans are high in protein, B complex vitamins and other minerals
•Beetroot: as well as containing beta-carotene, calcium, folic acid, iron, potassium, Vitamins B6 and C it cleanses blood
Blueberries or Bilberries – good for eyesight, high in Vitamin C and anti-bacterial
Blackberries – easy to grow and available free all over the countryside they are packed with Vitamin C and there are claims that they lower cholesterol
•Blackcurrant: loaded with nutrients – Vitamin C to fight colds, flavonoids which strengthen the walls of small blood vessels, Vitamin E for healthy skin, and pectin relieves diarrhoea
Brazil nuts : rich source of selenium which improves fertility and hormone metabolism
Broccoli : rich in iron, beta-carotene, folic acid, Vitamins A and C
Brown rice: high in fibre, cleanses and protects the gut, helps to remove toxins from the body and is a good source of B vitamins and Vitamin E
•Cabbage : cleanses blood, liver and skin, and is high in iron, sulphur, silica, magnesium, calcium and Vitamins A, B, C and E
•Carrots : good sources of Beta-carotene, Vitamins A, B and C, calcium, iron, potassium and other antioxidants
Celery: High in sodium, can be substituted for salt, contains potassium and other phytochemicals, good for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowers acidity helping osteoarthritis

Chicory: packed full with antioxidant vitamins C and E, folic acid, iron, and Vitamin A
Chilli pepper: the hot ingredient capsaicin has been found to shrink tumours in pancreatic and prostate cancer – cream made from capsaicin can ease the aches and pains of arthritis
Coconuts: Low in harmful cholesterol, full of antioxidants. Coconut water (from unripe coconuts) is an isotonic drink and replaces fluids after exercise, illness or accidents.  Antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial.
Cranberries: Rich in Vitamin C, prevent bacteria sticking to the walls of the intestines and bladder – good to drink daily if you suffer from cystitis
Elderberries (black): large amounts of Vitamins C, A and B, amino acids and carotenoids, flavonoids – including quercetin with its anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties
Garlic: anti-bacterial, antiviral, antifungal, lowers cholesterol, increases kidney function, antiseptic and antibiotic, lowers risk or heart disease and strokes and helps fight colds, flu and other respiratory infections!
Ginger: guards against colds and coughs, reduces likelihood of blood clots, prevents and eases travel sickness, nausea and morning sickness, and its warming properties help to relieve arthritis and rheumatism
Goji berries: also called wolfberries are rich in antioxidants, and are believed to be anti-ageing and cancer-fighting. The Chinese berries are said to contain 500 times more Vitamin C than oranges, and they also boost the immune system, maintain healthy blood pressure and stabilise cholesterol and blood sugar levels, burn fat and build muscle. A true superfood!
•Green tea : high in anti-oxidants, may lower cholesterol levels, believed to reduce risk of cancer, and its antibacterial and antibiotic properties helps to protect against tooth decay
•Grapes: Grape skins contain resveratrol which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, inhibiting blocked arteries – so red wine in moderation is good for you!
Lemons: rich in Vitamin C, helps to soothe colds, flush out toxins, contain limonoids which can fight cancer
•Lentils: nutritious source of protein, cholesterol, fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and the phytoestrogen lignans which ease menopausal symptoms and can fight hormone-dependent cancers
Linseeds : high in Omega 3 fatty acids and lignans – helpful for menopausal hot flushes, and prevent constipation
•Mango: rich in vitamin E, potassium, iron and Vitamin C
Manuka honey: honey from bees who take their pollen from the Manuka bush in New Zealand – antiseptic, heals wounds including MRSA and effective with stomach ulcers

Melon : contains Vitamin C, potassium and pectin, cleanses and stimulates kidneys and bladder, helps control blood cholesterol levels
•Oats : great source of phytic acid which boosts the immune system, magnesium and zinc which are good for skin, and soothe nerves by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream
•Oily fish: organic or wild salmon, herrings, mackerel: high in Omega 3 oils which helps brain function, reduces heart disease and blood clots. It is also a good source of Vitamin D.
•Onions: contain plenty of B vitamins and potassium, lower cholesterol, help to reduce incidence of strokes, heart disease and cancer, and relieve colds and digestive symptoms
•Parsley: full of iron, Vitamin C and beta-carotene, has a diuretic effect relieving fluid retention and is excellent for bad breath
•Pomegranates – one of the most recently discovered ‘superfoods’, rich source of Vitamin C, potassium and polyphenols which have a protective antioxidant effect – fighting free radicals that harm healthy cells – particularly helpful in preventing prostate cancer
•Prunes: renowned as a laxative, high in Vitamins A, B and E, potassium and iron
Pumpkin seeds : valuable source of protein, B complex vitamins, Vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc – excellent for prostate health
•Quinoa: a grain which an be used like rice as an excellent source of iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, B complex vitamins and protein
•Raspberries: full of fibre, Vitamin C, folate, iron, potassium, and antioxidant compounds, including beta-carotene (the plant form of Vitamin A), help to fight infection and stimulate the formation of red blood cells
•Spinach: excellent source of iron, folic acid, beta-carotene, potassium and lutein which is good for eyesight
Sunflower seeds: rich source of B vitamins, polyunsaturated fats, protein and minerals
Sweet potatoes: high in all vitamins, particularly E, iron and potassium, good for roasting
•Strawberries: great source of Vitamin C which repairs sun damage to skin, they raise antioxidant levels in body to fight cancer
•Tomatoes: high in lycopene which helps to protect against prostate cancer in men, also Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene
•Yogurt (live) : contains probiotics –lactobacillus – to replenish healthy bacteria in the gut, prevent digestive problems and candida
Yellow and red peppers : high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and anti-oxidants fighting cancer and heart disease
Watercress: abundant in iron, calcium, iodine, potassium, zinc, Vitamins A and C, may protect against cancer and acts as a health tonic.

Most of these are on sale in supermarkets, but if you can’t find sunflower or pumpkin seeds, quinoa and linseeds visit a local health food store. Read Organic Food is Good for You.

Healthy foods for long life

(Source: British Nutrition Foundation)

Particularly good for Important food component Great food sources
The heart Unsaturated fatty acids Vegetable oils and reduced fat spreads, nuts, seeds, avocados
Heart, brain, joints Long chain Omega 3s Oily fish
Gut & heart Insoluble fibre Wholegrain foods, nuts, seeds, vegetables, skins of some fruits including tomatoes
The heart Soluble fibre Pulses, oats, rye, barley, some fruits and vegetables, potatoes
Muscle, immune system Protein Protein Lean meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, pulses, quorn, soya products
All body systems Antioxidants, Vitamin C Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, citrus fruits, melon, kiwi
Prostate Lycopene Tomatoes, guava, apricots, watermelon, papaya, pink grapefruit
All body systems Beta-carotene Dark green, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables – carrot, pumpkin, spinach melon
Eyes Lutein/zeaxanthin Kiwi fruit, grapes, spinach, kale, broccoli, red and orange peppers
All body systems Vitamin E Plant oils, nuts, seeds, watermelon
Prostate, immune system Selenium Brazil nuts, bread, fish including shellfish, meat, eggs
The heart & brain Folate Leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, wholegrain products, liver, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals
Bone Vitamin K Green leafy vegetables, liver, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, some fruits (rhubarb, kiwi)
Bones & Heart Calcium Low/reduced fat milk/dairy products, fortified soya products, bread, canned fish (with bones)
Heart Potassium Root vegetables, fruit, lentils, beans, fish, milk, yogurt, nuts
Blood Iron Liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, wholegrain foods, fortified breakfast cereals, dark green leafy vegetables
The heart & brain Alcohol in moderation Alcohol (moderate amounts)
Teeth Fluoride Drinking water, tea, fish
Blood, immune system Zinc Meat, shellfish, milk/dairy foods, bread, cereal products

Good nutrition = healthy ageing

man olderLife expectancy was 45 in 1840 and now it’s around 90 on average with huge variations according to where you live. But, and it’s a big ‘but’, the average 90 year old may spend the last 10 to 20 years of their lives in ill health. Some 90 per cent of them take prescription drugs, and normally two or more types. Is this inevitable?Apparently not according to speakers at the British Nutrition Foundation conference on healthy ageing, ‘Good nutrition defends the body against the ageing process’.

The best ways to stay healthy into old age were said to be:

– don’t smoke
– exercise regularly
– eat plenty of fruit and veg
– drink alcohol in moderation

None of this is rocket science nor is it particularly new, but it does give people a sense of control over their own destiny. We all have to die one day but who wants to spend years lying in a bed, dependent on other people, in pain or unable to communicate?

The good thing is that it isn’t hard or even expensive to do any of the things that lead to a long healthy life, so everyone can do them. But it is often mindset that makes people think that they won’t be healthy, or that they can’t do anything about their health.

Hopefully the next generation will be less dependent on doctors and drugs and take more responsibility for their health. And in fact it will probably become a necessity because the NHS is unlikely to be able to prop up the baby boomer generation if they all are dependent on it.

Obviously there are no guarantees in life and the above doesn’t take account of stress or difficult lives that may wear people down. Or people who never really have a good start in the first place, but there’s no harm in trying!