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Trophology introduction: Food Combining    Part I

"Compared to Taoist concepts of balance, the Western notion of a 'balanced diet' is simplistic and superficial.Western physicians advise everyone to take 'a little of everything at every meal', jumbling together such disparate ingredients as meat, milk, starch, fat and sugar. Such indiscriminate consumption of food is no different than pouring a combination of gas, oil, alcohol and sugar into the gas tank of your car. These blends will not burn efficiently, will provide little power and will quickly clog up the engine so badly that the entire system grinds to a halt.

The following advice given to the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty on the occasion of the authors 100th birthday, clearly reflects the fact that the ancient Chinese were well aware of the importance of the science of food combining.
Food and drink are relied upon to nurture life. But if one does not know that the nature of substances may be opposed to each other, and one consumes them altogether indiscriminately, the vital organs will be thrown out of harmony and disastrous consequences will soon arise. Therefore, those who wish to nurture their lives must carefully avoid doing such damage to themselves.'
[Chia Ming, Essential Knowledge for Eating and Drinking, 1368 AD].

In plain English, the Yin and Yang of diet boils down to 'Trophology', a term which you and no doubt your doctor, have probably never heard before.  Modern medical training in the West, especially in America, is notoriously deficient in nutritional science, although there are a few enlightened nutritional scientists in America and Europe today who, despite sneers from their peers in the medical establishment, are making great medical strides through the science of Trophology.

The Western scientific equivalent of Yin/Yang balance in food combinations is something we all learned in elementary high school chemistry: acid/alkaline balance, or 'pH'. We all know that if we did add a measure of alkaline to an equal measure of acid, the resulting chemical solution is as neutral as plain water. That's the principle behind reaching for bicarbonate (a strong alkaline) to relieve 'acid indigestion'.  It is an established scientific fact in Western medicine that, in order to initiate efficient digestion of any concentrated animal protein, the stomach must secrete pepsin. But it is also a well-known fact that pepsin can function only in a highly acidic medium, which must be maintained for several hours for complete digestion of proteins.

It is equally a well established fact of science that when we chew a piece of bread or potato or any other carbohydrate/starch, ptyalin and other alkaline juices are immediately secreted into the food by saliva in the mouth. When swallowed, the alkalized starches require an alkaline medium in the stomach in order to complete their digestion.

Anyone should be able to figure out what therefore happens when you ingest protein and starch together. Acid and alkaline juices are secreted simultaneously in response to the incoming protein and starch, promptly neutralizing one another and leaving a weak, watery solution in the stomach that digests neither protein nor starch properly. Instead, the proteins putrefy and the starches ferment owning to the constant presence of bacteria in the digestive tract.  This putrefaction and fermentation are the primary cause of all sorts of digestive distress, including gas, heartburn, cramps, bloating, constipation, foul stools, bleeding, piles, colitis, and so forth. 

Many so-called 'allergies' are also the direct result of improper food combinations: the bloodstream picks up the toxins from the putrefied, fermented mess as it passes slowly through the intestines, and these toxins in turn cause rashes, hives, headaches, nausea, and other symptoms commonly branded as 'allergies'.  The same foods that cause allergic reactions when improperly combined often have no ill-side effects whatsoever when consumed according to the rules of Trophology.

The final fact of the matter is this: when you immobilize your stomach and impair digestive functions by consuming foods in indiscriminate combinations, the bacteria in your alimentary canal have a field day. They get all the nutrients and thrive, while you get all the wastes and suffer."

Trophology summary
"Correctly combining foods makes all the difference in the world to proper digestion and metabolism.  Without complete digestion, the nutrients in even the most wholesome food cannot be fully extracted and assimilated by the body.  Moreover, incomplete digestion and inefficient metabolism are the prime causes of fat and cholesterol accumulation in the body. A low calorie diet of overcooked, processed and improperly combined foods will still make you fat and leave sticky deposits in your arteries, just as the wrong mix of fuels will leave carbon deposits on the spark plugs of an engine, clog the pistons, and create foul gaseous exhaust.

On the other hand, if foods are properly combined for consumption, then regardless of how many calories or how much cholesterol they contain they will not make you fat or clog up your veins and organs, especially if at least half your daily food intake is taken raw.  If one follows the rules of Trophology, there is no need to be a fanatic about controlling one's diet, no need to count calories, and no need to worry about cholesterol.

Note also that there is no such thing as a food that is 100 percent protein or 100 percent carbohydrate. What counts is whether protein or carbohydrate is the major nutritional element in any particular food.  Generally speaking, if a food item contains 15 percent of more protein, than its categorized as 'protein food', while 20 percent or more carbohydrate makes it a 'carbohydrate food'. When combining different types of food in a single meal, it doesn't matter much if a little bit of protein is added to a basically carbohydrate meal or vice versa, especially if plenty of raw vegetables are included to provide active enzymes and fibrous bulk.

Ideally, one should consume only over variety of food at a single sitting.  A glance at nature proves this point.  Carnivorous animals never consume starchy items with their meat, but they do supplement digestion and occasionally purge their bowels by chewing on wild weeds that have medicinal properties. It has also been observed by bird watchers for centuries that birds eat bugs and worms at one time of day, seeds and berries, at another, but never both together. What makes modern man think that his digestive tract is so different from all other species in nature?

Even though traditional Chinese diet relies heavily on rice, a closer look at Chinese eating habits shows that, up until the mid-twentieth century, the rice was consumed according to the rules of Trophology. For example, when Chinese families eat at home, their meals are usually heavy in fresh vegetables and bean curd products and very light in meats. When Chinese go out for a big banquet in a restaurant, rice is generally not served at all, specifically so that it does not interfere with the enjoyment and digestion of the meat, fish and fowl that always appear on banquet menus. Today, however, modern lifestyles have eroded these healthy eating habits among urban Chinese, much to the detriment of their health and longevity.

Back in the 1920's, before modern world had much impact on Chinese lifestyles, an extensive study was conducted in China by Western nutritional experts to compare the typical eating habits of Chinese and Americans. The regions surveyed were located in central and coastal China, and rural areas where traditional lifestyles and eating habits had not changed much for many centuries, but where relative peace and prosperity gave local households the full range of choice of foods.   The study revealed that the average Chinese derived over 90 percent of their food energy from grains and grain products, with only 1 percent coming from animal products and all the rest from fresh vegetable sources. A blend of 90 percent carbohydrate and 1 percent protein, supplemented with the enzymes and roughage of fresh fruits and vegetables is about as close to a perfectly combined diet as is practically possible.

The same study then turned towards the eating habits of typical Americans, with most revealing results: 39 percent of the average Americans food energy came from grains, 38 percent from animal products and most of the remaining 23 percent came from refined sugars. Vegetables and fruits accounted for a minuscule portion of the American diet. One could hardly concoct a more poorly balanced diet from the point of view of Trophology!

According to the results of Dr. Pottenger's experiments with cats, the damage from such denatured diets [and pasteurized milk] can be transmitted to the next generation.

Let's take a close trophological look at the 'Great American Meal', which is rapidly spreading digestive and metabolic malaise throughout the world via huge corporate fast food chains.

That all-American meal consists of a cheeseburger with French fries, washed down with a milk shake or sweet cola. A cheeseburger contains two different varieties of concentrated protein- meat and cheese. On top of that goes a big, fluffy bun of highly refined white flour- pure starch. Next comes a big bag of deep fried potatoes, thereby adding more concentrated starch, further fattened by deep-frying in stale oil, to the meal. Finally this mess is washed down with a big frozen milk shake, adding pasteurized milk to the meat and starch and the fat, plus several spoons of refined white sugar to thoroughly gum up the works.  Breaking one or two rules of Trophology at any given meal is bad enough, but the 'Great American Meal' breaks at least six! Small wonder that in a recent nationwide health survey in America, reported by an Associated Press bulletin in July 1996, 49 percent of the population reported chronic, daily stomach pain, gastro-intestinal distress, constipation, and other ailments of the digestive tract. This website can bring long term relief to these people, and help the other 51% avoid these sort of problems.

The dietary situation in the Western world is far more serious than any government health authorities care to admit. This is largely because the food industry has become one of the largest, most powerful businesses in the Western world, especially in America, where the processed food industry is represented by one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which decides what foods may be sold in the market, is staffed primarily by professional bureaucrats, not nutritional scientists, and it conducts no scientific tests whatsoever. Instead, it relies on tests and reports submitted by the very corporations which want to get a new food product onto the market!

Raw certified milk has become illegal in most states, and gone are the days when people could go down to a local open-air market to purchase fresh produce, as is still common in Asia and much of Europe. And so Americans continue to suffer among the world's highest incidenc
e of heart disease, cancer, digestive disorders and other deadly ailments.

Facts are facts, so have a look at the following startling facts about diet and malnutrition in America, compiled by American medical scientists and published in March/April 1958 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  A careful comparative examination of the diets and health of beggars in India and apparently healthy young American teenagers revealed that in India the average daily calorie intake of the typical beggar amounted to less that half that of the typical American.  Yet only 6.25 percent of the beggars showed any sign of nutritional deficiency, while a staggering 75 percent of the American teenagers showed signs  of severe malnutrition. Only 1.25 percent of the Indian beggars suffered dental cavities, compared with over 90 percent of the young Americans. Conclusion: the typical beggar in India derives greater health from his meager diet than the average American teenager does from his 'rich' diet.

A similar study in Mexico found similar results. The September 1951 issue of Harper's Magazine reports the results of a long-term study of the dietary habits of Mexican peasants, conducted by MIT's Dr. Robert Harris. States the report, "To the surprise of the investigators, these poverty stricken Mexicans showed less evidence of malnutrition than did Michigan school children....  Analysis of all their foods by Dr. Harris' group showed that the Otomis (Indians dwelling in the arid Mesquital Valley north of Mexico City), like the slum dwellers of Mexico City, were obtaining, nearly adequate quantities of all nutrients except riboflavin. In fact, their nutrition was definitely superior to that of the average person living in the Boston and New York areas of the United States!"

Protein and Starch
"This is the worst possible combination of foods to mix together at a single meal, and yet it is the mainstay of modern Western diets: meat and potatoes, hamburgers and fries, eggs and toast, etc. When one consumes protein and starch together, the alkaline enzyme ptyalin pours into the food as it's chewed in the mouth. When the masticated food reaches the stomach, digestion of starch by alkaline enzymes continues unabated, thereby preventing the digestion of protein by pepsin and other acid secretions.   The ever-present bacteria in the stomach are thus permitted to attach the protein and putrefaction commences, rendering nutrients in the protein food largely useless to you and producing toxic wastes and foul gases, including such poisons as indol, skatol, phenol, hydrogen sulphide, phenylpropionic acid, and others.  If that is the case, you may well wonder, then why does the stomach have no trouble handling foods that naturally contain both protein and starch, such as whole grains?  As Dr. Shelton points out, "There is a great difference between the digestion of a food, however complex its composition, and the digestion of a mixture of different foods."

To a single article of food that is a starch-protein combination, the body can easily adjust its juices, both as to strength and timing, to the digestive requirements of the food. But when two foods are eaten with different, even opposite, digestive needs, this precise adjustment of juices to requirements becomes impossible."
THE RULE: Eat concentrated proteins such as meat, fish, eggs and cheese separately from concentrated starches such as bread, potatoes and rice.   For example, eat toast or eggs for breakfast, the hamburger patty or the bun for lunch, meat or potatoes for dinner.

Protein and Protein
"Different proteins have different digestive requirements. For example the strongest enzymatic action on milk occurs during the last hour of digestion, whereas on meat it occurs during the first hour and on eggs somewhere in between.  Two similar meats such as beef and lamb, or two types of fish such as salmon and shrimp, are not sufficiently different in nature to cause digestive conflict in the stomach and may be consumed together."
It is instructive to recall the ancient dietary law which Moses imposed on his people [the Jewish people], forbidding the simultaneous consumption of milk and flesh.
THE RULE: Eat only one major type of protein at a single meal. Avoid combinations such as meat and eggs, meat and milk, fish and cheese. Insure the assimilation of the full range of vital amino acids by varying the types of concentrated proteins taken at different meals.

Acid and starch
"Any acid taken together with starch suspends secretion of ptyalin, a biochemical fact of life upon which all physicians agree.  Therefore, if you consume oranges, lemons and other acid fruits, or acids such as vinegar's, along with starch, no ptyalin is secreted in the mouth to initiate the first stage of digestion. Consequently, the starch hits the stomach without the vital alkaline juices it needs to digest properly, permitting bacteria to ferment it instead.  A single teaspoon of vinegar, or its equivalent in other acids, is all it takes entirely to suspend salivary digestion of starch in the mouth."
THE RULE: Eat acids and starches at separate meals. For example, if you eat toast or cereal for breakfast (starches), skip the orange juice (acid) as well as the eggs (concentrated protein).  If you're eating a starch-based meal of noodles or rice, avoid vinegar as well as concentrated protein (meat, chicken).

Acid and protein

"Since protein requires an acid medium for proper digestion, you'd think that acid foods would facilitate protein digestion, but that's not the case. When acid foods enter the stomach they inhibit the secretion of hydrochloric acid, and the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin can work only in the presence of hydrochloric acid, not just any acid.  Therefore orange juice inhibits the proper digestion of eggs, and a strong vinegar dressing on salads inhibits the digestion of steak."
THE RULE: Avoid combining concentrated proteins and acids at the same meal.

Starch and sugar
"It has been established that, when sugar enters the mouth along with starch, the saliva secreted during mastication contains no ptyalin, thereby sabotaging starch digestion before it reaches the stomach. Furthermore, such a combination blocks passage of sugar through the stomach until the starch is digested, causing it to ferment. The by-products of sugar fermentation are acidic, which in turn further inhibits digestion of starches, which require alkaline mediums for digestion.

Bread (starch) and butter (fat) is a perfectly compatible combination, but when you spread a spoonful of honey or jam over it, you introduce sugars to the blend, which interferes with the digestion of the starch in bread.  The same principle applies to breakfast cereal sprinkled with sugar, heavily frosted cakes, sweet pies, and so forth."
THE RULE: Eat starches and sugars separately.
Source: Daniel Reid. 

                                                                 Part II
Diet & Exercise