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Food Combining Myths

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Food Combining Myths
A small portion of salmon on a bed of lettuce and chives. Photo Credit laddawanh/iStock/Getty Images


Food combining diets encourage eating foods, such as starches, proteins, fats and fruits, in certain combinations. Proponents of the diet believe that eating fruit with starches or protein, for example, causes the fruit to sour in your stomach and results in poor absorption of nutrients. While you may reap benefits from food combining if it helps you improve your food choices and portion sizes, the technique is unnecessary and its benefits are not upheld by science.

Reduces Toxins

Proponents of food combining diets believe that eating foods in "bad" combinations, such as eating a protein-rich food, such as fish, with a starch, including bread or rice, increases toxicity in your digestive tract. Similarly, the diets promote "good" food combinations, such as eating protein-rich foods with a fat source, including oil or nuts, reduces toxins in your digestive system and leads to reduced risk for infections and disease, indigestion, gas, pain, bloating and other bothersome symptoms. According to dietitian and author of the "American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide," Roberta Larson Duyf, eating foods in various combinations and avoiding others does not reduce toxins or improve digestion. Your digestive system is designed to digest a variety of foods and nutrients, regardless of the combination. Positive hygiene habits, avoiding tobacco smoke and eating antioxidant-rich foods, such as colorful fruits and vegetables, are more useful, effect means of reducing or preventing toxins from causing harm.

Weight Loss

Numerous diets also promote the food combining technique as a useful way to reduce food cravings and lose weight. The notions that eating foods in certain combinations and avoiding others can reduce body fat or have a positive influence over your appetite and weight are also false, according to Dyuff. Eating fewer calories, ideally through a balanced, nutritious diet -- you burn through physical activity -- is a safe and proven method of managing your weight. If you struggle with food cravings and/or appetite control, consider managing your stress, which can help reduce emotional-derived hunger and eating, according to MayoClinic.com, or eating more fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and protein-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy products and fish, which enhance satiation.

Improved Energy And Moods

Numerous food combining diets also promise improved energy levels and mood balance as a result of eating foods solely in "good" combinations. In fact, combining proteins and carbohydrates — a "bad" combination, according to food combining diets — helps make the feel-good brain chemical serotonin more available in your brain. Mayo Clinic nutritionists Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky suggest low-glycemic foods, such as whole grains, chocolate and omega-3 fatty acid sources, including fatty fish and walnuts, as mood-boosting food choices. These foods can help keep your blood sugar levels balanced, promote feelings of relaxation and help you sleep. Carbohydrates provide glucose — your body's primary energy source. For these reasons, eliminating carbohydrates from meals that contain protein-rich foods may in fact lead to reduced energy levels or increased cravings for carbohydrate sources.

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