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Proteins And Starches – A Bad Combination For Good Digestion

by Jo Jordan

The way our bodies digest protein versus starches is fundamentally different; therefore you can't consume both in the same meal and have great digestion.

According to food combining experts, one of the worst things we can do for our digestive system is combine starches and proteins in the same meal. That means the All-American meal of meat and potatoes is actually bad for us!

Why? Proteins and starches are two of the toughest food groups to digest, when combined – digestion gets even tougher. This can cause bloating, gas, indigestion, heartburn and more.

When we do combine our foods properly, our bodies are able to fully digest what we eat. This allows us to get the most out of our meals, boost energy levels and ease digestion. The end result is less bloating, gas, heartburn, indigestion and a host of other digestive discomforts.

Many people have experienced this on a personal basis – and know of even more who have changed the way the feel in a matter of days, with basic food combining.

Unsuitable Digestive Environment

Proteins and starches both need a specific digestive environment in order to be digested well. Proteins digest the best when the acid levels of the stomach are higher. Starches digest best when the alkaline levels are higher.

When you ingest proteins and starches together the digestive environment is unable to get either acidic enough or alkaline enough to properly digest both food groups. When this occurs, neither the proteins nor the starches are absorbed well, which means you are not getting the necessary nutrients from either.

Improper absorption can lead to a number of different digestive and health problems such as; indigestion, bloating, gas, fatigue, high cholesterol, weight gain, and more.

Carbohydrates vs. Starches

Often time's starches and carbohydrates are considered the same, however there is a distinct difference.

  • A starch is a carbohydrate that has low or no water content; i.e. breads and potatoes.
  • All starches are carbohydrates but not all carbohydrates are starches.
  • Foods like fruit are considered a carbohydrate because of their high sugar content but they are not a starch because of their high water content.
  • The higher the water content in food the easier it is to digest.

Before you can do your best to avoid protein and starch food combinations, you need to be able to identify which is which. In order to help, we have created two extra columns in our daily fiber chart. Look for a check mark in the protein or starch column to indicate which group it belongs to. If there is no check mark - the food is a vegetable and can be eaten with either a starch or a protein in the same meal.

Food Combining in Today's World

Not combining proteins and starches is good in theory but it may seem like an overwhelming task. After-all, our meals usually consist of a protein, starch, and fruit or veggie. This leaves many asking what would a meal consist of?

The problem is most of us think eating three square meals a day with over-sized portions is eating healthy. In reality this makes it very difficult not to combine proteins and starches. Improper food combining and over eating make it hard for your digestive system to fully digest your meal. Undigested food is the root of our digestive ailments.

Instead of three "square" meals, we should be eating smaller portions five to six times a day. This allows you to work in both proteins and starches without combining the two, eat smaller portions, and limit your hunger pains. The end result is more complete digestion and fewer digestive problems.

Here is a sample daily eating schedule:

Breakfast Snack Lunch Snack Dinner Snack
Omelet w/
or Meat
Granola bar
or Fruit
or Cereal
Salad w/
Chicken or
Crackers or
Yogurt or
Meat, or Fish
& Vegetable
or Fruit

We have incorporated protein into the breakfast, lunch and dinner eating times. Proteins are more convenient to have during those times of day and you can always add vegetables to them for a good food combination.

Whenever you are eating you should pay attention to your portion sizes. They should never be bigger than the size of your closed fist. Eating this way will help you avoid overeating, stave off hunger pains, and bad food combinations.

While starch and protein combinations are at the top of the list as bad food combinations, they are not alone. There are other combinations that should also be avoided, but these require more effort. We recommend starting with the basic food combining suggestions recommended in this article. For more in-depth food combining information, review our food combing article and food combining chart.

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