This composition highlights the importance of food consumption, not only for survival, but for overall optimal health. The act of food combining or trophology has been a practice that many people are unaware of. Here, the culture and science behind this fascinating topic is analyzed as well as the methods, studies, and professionals who have helped to draw these conclusions. Although there are many skeptics, a number of others have agreed that food combining is useful and claim to benefit from this behavior. Many people that do concur with this idea have some type of knowledge of bodily pH balances and digestive system processes. Food combining focuses primarily on digestive health which can actually dictate overall health. The majority of our immune function lives in the gut area and since this is where food spends most of its time, trophology has become very important to many people and healthcare professionals alike.
Most Americans have the same dietary regimen and this is reflected by their state of health. The majority of the American diet consists of sugars, fats, and is also high in sodium. 80% of the American population over consumes sugars and fats while 90% over consumes sodium (ODPHP, 2015). In addition, vegetable and fruit intake is very low which is unfortunate because the majority of the human diet should consist primarily of foliage. Americans also tend to not consume enough fiber where the recommended daily value is between 20-38 grams. It was assessed that Americans are only consuming an average of 14 grams of fiber per day (Fernstrom, 2006). Between fast food culture and food choices that are high in calories there is no wonder why cardiovascular disease is the primary health threat for Americans. In contrast of the latter, there are those individuals who are actually more conscientious of their eating habits. Some individuals consume all of their appropriate servings of fruits and vegetables a day, keep sugar consumption to a minimum, exercise often, and drink plenty of water but somehow they are not able to reach their ideal state of health.
There is an important element to eating that many people do not practice and it’s primarily because they are unaware of it. Food combining or trophology is the act of consuming foods that are compatible with one another to aid the body in properly metabolizing, absorbing, and digesting the nutrients within them. This is imperative for optimal health although some may disagree. There is an abundance of information and research completed to support the idea that the combining of compatible foods is fundamental for digestive health. It has been said that improper food combining is one of the main influences of flatulence, heartburn, and digestion issues (Mercola, 2013). Another reason why trophology is important is because the body’s homeostatic behavior of eliminating toxins depends highly on digestion. Furthermore, trophology also concerns itself with when and how food should be consumed and digested.
Food combining was introduced into mainstream audiences during the 1950s by alternative medicine enthusiast Herbert M. Shelton. Shelton has also been regarded as the “Father of food combining”. He published Food Combining Made Easy in 1951 and this book explains how combining various compounds can be negative for the digestive system. For the time period it was indeed revolutionary in changing the way people looked at eating. Even though credit is given to Shelton there was an earlier pioneer by the name of Dr. William Howard Hay of New York University. He focused on food combining and separating food types by alkaline, acidic, and neutral characteristics (AltHealth, 2017). Hay used himself as proof of his findings when treating himself for afflictions such as a dilated heart and Bright’s disease (inflammation of the kidneys). His health improved in a matter of 3 months and because of this he developed a chart that showed others how to eat this way too. This was how the popular “Hay Diet” was born and many people still follow this regimen today. Even though food combining has had many names it has been called trophology (based off of the Latin word trophos meaning “growth”) since 1890 by way of scientist J.S. Billings (Drabek, 2017).
There are various rules in food combining that assist in ensuring that an individual is eating the right foods together. This is because food combinations determine a food’s acidic or alkalizing effects on the body. Consuming fats and proteins have been deemed futile because most foods with protein already contain a lot of fat. In this manner, fat has a negative effect on pepsin and hydrochloric acid activity which are both vital for protein digestion (The Wolfe Clinic, 2008). It has also been said that proteins and starches should not be eaten together because proteins use acidity for digestion while carbohydrates (starches) digest successfully in an alkaline environment (Dr. Kaslow, 2017). Other food rules also apply such as eating fruit by itself with no other foods and refraining from eating beans (protein) with dairy products (Lad, 2016).
The methods used to generate the information discussed in this research paper were completed by way of multiple scholarly databases and reputable websites of the alternative medicine industry. These databases and websites include Alt HealthWatch via EBSCO Host, the Ayurvedic Institute, the website of Quantum Healing (a kinesiology practice located in Montana), Miami Colon Therapy, and the Wolfe Clinic. Publications by both allopathic and naturopathic health care professionals were also utilized to gather data for this topic. Boolean operators were used via Google to search for articles related to food combining such as “food combing AND clinical trials”, “food combining OR trophology”, “trophology AND scholarly articles”, and “food combinations OR food combining”. Google advanced search was utilized with the same key words as well as others such as “food rules” and “trophology science”. The information that was uncovered from the research performed comes primarily from health care professionals and their knowledge of digestive system behaviors.
Dr. Wayne Pickering, a naturopathic physician from Florida, agrees that food combining supports digestive health (Mercola, 2013). He goes on to explain that food goes through four processes within the body which are the following: digestion, absorption, assimilation, and elimination. Each food has a complexity and personal digestive fashion that can be interfered with when combined with foods of another type of digestive pattern. Pickering instructed that starches are to never be eaten with proteins and gave a clear explanation on why. Starches require alkalinity to be properly digested while protein requires acidity. According to chemistry, once acidic and alkaline products combine they become neutralized. Based off of this knowledge Dr. Pickering concluded that the food is still being released from the body but does so undigested which means that the body is not absorbing all of its needed nutrients.
There was also an article published by The International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics that spoke on the significance of food combining. According to the article, there should be equilibrium between nutrients of different calibers and an example of this would be the need for fat for carbohydrates to be properly metabolized by the liver (Lasker, 2005). Furthermore, the article states that eating uncomplimentary foods simultaneously has the potential to deactivate particular enzymes that are pivotal to the digestion process. It was also stated that the body of many animals, in this case humans, are not equipped to process (digest and assimilate at the same time) a variety of concentrated foods. The combining of sugar and protein is another important topic of interest here. Sugars are only digested in the large intestine so when combined with protein (primarily meat) its movement into the large intestine is delayed. This all results in fermentation and the overproduction of candida yeast.
The colon is an important element of our digestive system and takes the backlash from poor food combinations according to the Miami Colon Therapy (2017) center. One of its affiliates, Dr. Shelton, stated that the body digests and processes single food items and a collection of food items differently. When the body comes in contact with foods that have different digestive needs this can be problematic. For example, when a starch and a protein are consumed together an alkaline enzyme called ptyalin soaks into masticated food while still in the mouth. Once this food enters the stomach the starches that have mixed with ptyalin prevents the actions of pepsin and other acids from digesting the protein as they should. The Miami Colon Therapy center also deemed this fact as the reason why the average American male has up to 5lbs of putrefied waste stored in his gut due to red meat consumption.
Naturopathic doctor Christopher Vasey (2006) explains the importance of food combining in his book The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health and how important this activity is to balancing bodily pH values. One of the examples he used is the digestion of cereal and its need for an alkaline influenced environment. Cereal is popularly eaten at breakfast and often mixed with fruit and yogurt such as the popular parfait. According to Vasey, these food items shouldn’t be eaten together because of the acidity of the yogurt and fruit (if it’s an acid fruit such as citrus fruits) because the yogurt and the fruit cause fermentation of the cereal. He also went on to say that leguminous foods such as peanuts are acid forming foods that are hard to digest. When these foods are combined with cereals it makes them even harder to digest due to the forming acids that are difficult for some to metabolize.
Fruits are very special when it comes to the trophology theory because they are to be eaten alone with nothing else. This is because fruits are considered to be “pre-digested” as they digest very easily and spend no more time in the stomach than 30 minutes (Montgomery, 2016). When consumed with other foods the digestion of fruit is subjected to interference which causes it to ferment inside of the digestive tract. This is why it’s best to eat fruits while the stomach is empty. Drinking fluids with meals should also be avoided as well because they dilute digestive acids and enzymes. Refraining from liquids around 30 minutes prior to eating and up to 2 hours after eating (depending on what was consumed) will be helpful for proper digestion (Montgomery, 2017). Although, a small amount of warm lemon water during a meal will not disrupt any processes.
It seems that the combining of foods is a matter of simple chemistry and knowledge of the acids and other chemicals that reside in the GI tract. A familiarity with the digestive system will also assist in putting the pieces together to this fascinating subject. There is a plethora of health care professionals of all calibers from naturopathic to allopathic medicine who agrees that trophology is useful. It has also been said that this behavior has been observed in various types of animals (Smith, 2017). It is true that many health care professionals disagree with these theories that come from the same educational backgrounds of those that are in support of trophology. It is believed by some that food does not in fact putrefy in the body due to the various digestive acids in the stomach. But from a chemistry standpoint the combining of particular chemicals does in fact cause the types of reactions described by trophology supporters.
Among those who are in unison on the credibility of the food combining theory are some conflicting ideas. It has been agreed upon by many that fats and proteins shouldn’t be consumed together. But in a famous test conducted by arctic explorers Vilhjalmur Steffanson and Karsten Andersen, they sought out to determine under what conditions could man live on a diet consisting only of meat, high protein, and high fat with no other foods (Dr. Kaslow, 2017; Smith 2017). This test took place over the course of one year and the two explorers used themselves as participants. An influence here was in the fact that primitive humans did not eat fats with carbohydrates. After the test was complete it was found that the two men experienced no type of gastrointestinal issues. Furthermore, the results heavily suggested that fats and proteins combine very well. It was accepted that greater absorption is had when fats and proteins are digested together. There was also a population of simplified putrefactive organisms found in their intestines (Smith, 2017). So although ideas may conflict there still seems to be something that stands true to the idea of trophology.
Although there is a plethora of information on this topic there is still a copious amount of research that needs to be conducted. Clinical trials, double-blind studies, and peer-reviewed data would be immensely beneficial to this school of thought. Trophology has also influenced a newer school of science called nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of diet and its effects on gene expression with the pursuit of preventing diseases. This idea was introduced into the world of science and medicine during the 1990’s due to the Human Genome Project (Neesha & Kinth, 2013). There is no denying that food is fundamental to human survival but more exploration can help scientists determine on what scale this is measured.
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ODPHP (2015). Chapter 2: Shifts Needed to Align With Healthy Eating Patterns. Current Eating Patterns in the United States. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Health.gov. Web. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/current-eating-patterns-in-the-united-states/
Smith, S. (2017). Food Combinations. Quantum Healing. Stevenville, Montana. Web. http://www.4quantumhealing.com/FoodCombos.pdf
The Wolfe Clinic (2008). Guide to Proper Food Combining. The Wolfe Clinic.com. Web. http://www.hummingbirdfeather.com/files/2014/03/Guide-to-Proper-Food-Combining.pdf
Vasey, C. (2006). The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health. Pp 64-68, 72, 98, 105, 109, 118. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, Vermont.