Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Improving digestion and food combining

Making sure that foods are fully digested can help reduce food intolerance. Simple steps that can be taken to improve digestion include the following:

Thorough chewing

Chewing mixes food with saliva, which contains an enzyme that starts the digestion of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta. It also breaks food up, increasing the surface area available for contact with the digestive juices and enzymes. Each mouthful ideally should be chewed to a cream before swallowing.

Avoid big meals

The larger the meal, the larger the load on the digestive system. Therefore small meals eaten frequently reduce the risk of indigestion.

Avoid drinking with meals

Some people tend to drink fluid with meals in the belief that this helps to “wash food down”. The reality is quite the reverse. Drinking with meals dilutes the acid and enzymes that do the digestive work and does nothing to help the process of digestion. On the whole, drinking should be done between meals, not at mealtimes.

Food combining

Proteins and starches are very different chemically and are digested by different enzymes in the gut. Initially, proteins are digested in acid, starches in alkali (quite the opposite). An inability to cope with protein and starch combinations can lead to impaired digestion. The aim of food combining is to avoid mixing protein and starch at the same meal. This means eating either protein or starch combined with a food that is “neutral” – neither protein nor starch. (For a list of common protein, starch and neutral foods.

Examples of healthy meals include: meat or fish with salad or vegetables other than potatoes; pasta with tomatobased sauce (no meat) and salad; vegetable curry and rice; baked potato, ratatouille and salad; meat stew with vegetables and avocado salad sandwiches. Eating to this pattern can bring tremendous relief to

people with indigestion and increase the chances of complete and rapid food breakdown. It may also help to reduce the risk of food sensitivity, and is often very effective in helping improve digestive symptoms such as bloating, indigestion and acid reflux.

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