HOME HYGIENE LIBRARY CATALOG GO TO NEXT CHAPTER
Physicians prescribe, cooks prepare and people eat all manner of combinations of food, without the slightest regard for the physiological limitations of man's digestive system. It is the general view, lay and professional, that the human stomach should be able to digest about any number and variety of food substances that may be put into it at one time.
Digestion is governed by physiological chemistry but the so-called food scientist continues to disregard this fact. He writes out his menus without the slightest thought of the decomposition that his jumbled mixtures are certain to cause in the digestive tracts of his patients. He never thinks of the fact that he is actually poisoning those who pay him for advice and instruction.
Certain physiological limitations of the digestive glands and of the digestive enzymes and juices should be considered in planning a meal for either the well or the sick. With a knowledge of these limitations at hand, we are in a position to plan a dietary which will adjust itself to the physiological limitations of the digestive glands and their secretions.
Not what we eat but what we digest and assimilate adds to our health, strength and usefulness. An unhampered or unimpeded digestion may be guaranteed only to the extent to which we guard our stomachs against food combinations and mental and physical conditions which disturb and impair digestion. A stomach that is reeking with decomposition will not supply to the body the "calories" and "vitamins" originally contained in the food eaten.
The specific action of the digestive enzymes, the careful timing of their secretion and the adaptation of the strength and character of the digestive secretions to the character of the food upon which they are to act was seen in our study of the processes of digestion. The more these facts are studied, the more it appears to be utterly impossible to digest the conglomeration that makes up the usual meal of the average man or woman.
In this chapter it is intended to shed more light upon the principle that the digestion of different foods requires special adaptations in the digestive juices. This is true in man, in animals, in plants. Suppose we begin with the carnivorous plants.
Carnivorous plants are of three general types--namely, (1) plants with an adhesive apparatus with which to catch their prey, such as Drosophyllum Lusitanicum, (2) plants which show movements in the capture of their prey, as Pinguiculavulgaris (Butter-wort) and Drosera Rotundifolia (Sun-dew), and (3) plants with traps for the capture of insects, as Nepenthatceoe (Pitcher Plants), Cephalotus Follicularis, Lathroea Squamaria (Toothwort), Dionacea Muscipula (Venus' Fly-trap), Utricularice Neglecta (Bladderwort), etc.
The leaves of the first class, of which Drosphyllum, which grows in Portugal and Morocco, is representative, are covered with a viscid and very acid substance, secreted by the glands in the leaves and flower stalks. The drops of secretion are readily removed from the leaves but are replaced with great rapidity, the glands being able to secrete large quantities of acid juice.
An insect alighting on the leaf becomes clogged by the viscid secretion adhering to its legs and wings. Crawling on, as it is unable to fly, it is soon bathed in the acid fluid, and sinks down dead. It is not uncommon to see a plant covered with the refuse of dead insects, which have been exhausted of their nutriment, while, at the same time, there are numerous recently alighted insects struggling to get away.
Experimenting with these plants, Darwin found that their secretion is absorbed in about an hour and a half if a proteid is placed upon them; no absorption can be detected when small bits of glass or charcoal are used in the same way. Unlike many of the carnivorous plants, Drosophyllum does not secrete very much more fluid after stimulation by albuminous substances, but the fluid becomes more acid and contains more ferment.
Butterwort, in addition to secreting a viscid fluid, with which to catch its prey, also curves up its leaves on the prey in digesting it. Soon after an insect is captured, the glands in contact with it (none of the glands except those in actual contact with the insect secret the digestive fluid), pour out a large quantity of fluid, which is more viscous and strongly acid in reaction, the previous secretion having been neutral. Although fragments of grass, placed on a leaf of this plant, occasion a slight degree of incurvation, which begins as soon as does incurvation following the capture of an insect, it does not last long and is not accompanied by any secretion. The secretion of the glands of this plant is neutral in the fasting state, but shortly after stimulation with a nitrogenous substance becomes acid and contains an enzyme with an action similar to that of pepsin. A close parallelism exists between the digestive power of Drosera and that of the mammalian stomach, both of which are able to digest vegetable as well as animal proteins. The secretions of Drosera digest those same substances--albumen, milk proteids, fibrin, etc.,--that are digested by hydrochloric acid and fail to digest those substances cellulose, epithelial cells, mucin, starch, oils, etc., that gastric juice fails on. The digestive process is stopped in both by the addition of an alkali--such as soda--and recommences on the further addition of acid. In both, the enzyme requires the presence of an acid to activate it.
Darwin's experiments with these plants showed that while digestible nitrogenous substances excite the secretion of an active juice, indigestible substances, even if nitrogenous (with the exception of ammonium salts) only occasion an increased secretion of an acid but inactive fluid.
Venus' Fly Trap, which closes up on its prey, pours out an active juice with which to digest it. Unlike the glands of Drosera, the glands of this plant do not secrete before stimulation, nor do they act unless the stimulant is nitrogenous and soluble. The secretion is acid and contains a peptic ferment. It is also strongly antiseptic.
I need not consider more of the many types of carnivorous plants that exist and have been studied. In general we may say that during the "fasting" state, the digestive secretions of all carnivorous plants are either neutral, or are but mildly acid in reaction; but, that when digestible nitrogenous substances are placed upon them, the secretion becomes strongly acid and contains an enzyme, previously absent, which acts upon proteins as does pepsin. If non-nitrogenous substances are placed upon the leaves there may or may not be an increased secretion. If the secretion is increased, it may be acid, but will contain no enzyme.
In the case of the nitrogenous substances, the juice contains active digestive properties, which have the same action on protein substances as does pepsin; while with indigestible bodies, even if nitrogenous, and in the case of all non-nitrogenous substances, these active digestive agents are absent. We note here a precise adaptation that is seen in all forms of life.
There is not only a difference in the character of the juice poured out upon different substances; there is also a marked difference in the amount of fluid poured out and in the length of time it is secreted. There are also marked differences in the physical behaviour in these plants towards the various substances. When protein is placed upon the leaves of some plants, the incurvation of the leaf is often great enough to completely envelop the bodies and lasts until digestion and absorption are completed. But if bits of glass are dropped on their leaves, a certain degree of incurvation occurs, but it is not accompanied with any secretion and does not persist.
Dr. N. Phillip Norman, Instructor in Gastro-enterology, N. Y. Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital, New York City, says: "In studying the action of different enzymes, one is struck by Emil Fisher's statement that there must be a special key to each lock. The ferment being the lock and its substrate the key, and if the key does not fit exactly to the lock, no reaction is possible. In view of this fact is it not logical to believe the admixture of different types of carbohydrates and fats and proteins in the same meal to be distinctly injurious to the digestive cells? If since it is true that similar, but not identical, locks are produced by the same type of cells, it is logical to believe that this admixture taxes the physiologic functions of these cells to their limit."
The digestive juices are complex and elaborately contrived fluids. The work of the digestive canal is beautifully performed and most carefully adapted to the work in hand. For each set of raw materials, a suitable combination of digestive secretions, with special properties, are required and are, therefore, produced. The digestive glands are able to vary their work considerably, not alone with respect to the quantity of juice secreted, but also with respect to the properties of the juice.
There is more water or less water, a higher degree of alkalinity, or acidity, a different degree of concentration of the enzyme or a total absence of enzyme, as required by the different classes of foods and as required at various stages of the process of digestion of one kind of food.
All of these separate conditions of juice activity are not without their importance, although they are wholly disregarded by "orthodox" dietitians and by the physicians and practitioners of all schools.
Physiologists usually gloss over these facts, so that the student of physiology is not impressed with their practical importance.
It is clear that the character of the juice corresponds with the requirements of the food to be acted upon. Carbohydrate foods receive a juice rich in carbohydrate-splitting enzymes, protein foods receive a juice rich in protein-splitting enzymes, etc. This alteration of the juice extends both to its strength and to the absolute quantities of the ferment, just as we saw it do in the case of the carnivorous plants. So different in character are the specific secretions poured out on each different kind of food, Prof. Pavlov speaks of "milk-juice," "bread-juice," "flesh-juice," etc.
Based on our knowledge of the chemistry of digestion, briefly presented in this and the chapter on digestion, I present the following rules. These rules have been carefully tested in practice by the writer and many others and have stood the test of experience. They should be followed by well and sick alike.
1. Never eat carbohydrate foods and acid foods at the same meal.
Do not eat bread, potatoes, or peas, or beans, or bananas, or dates, or other carbohydrates with lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, tomatoes or other sour fruit.
The enzyme, ptyalin, acts only in an alkaline medium; it is destroyed by a mild acid. Fruit acids not only prevent carbohydrate digestion, but they also favor their fermentation. Oxalic acid diluted to one part in 10,000 completely arrests the action of ptyalin. There is enough acetic acid in one or two teaspoonfuls of vinegar to entirely suspend salivary digestion.
Dr. Percy Howe, of Harvard, says: "Many people who cannot eat oranges at a meal derive great benefit from eating them fifteen to thirty minutes before the meal." But Dr. Howe does not appear to know why these people cannot take oranges with their meals. I have put hundreds of patients, who have told me that they could not eat oranges or grapefruit, upon a diet of these fruits and they found that they could take them. Such people are in the habit of taking these foods with a breakfast of cereal, with cream and sugar, egg on toast, stewed prunes and coffee, or some similar meal.
Tomatoes should never be combined with any starch food. They may be eaten with leafy vegetables and fat foods. The combination of citric, malic and oxalic acids found in tomatoes, (which are released and intensified by cooking), is very antagonistic to the alkaline digestion of starches in the mouth and stomach. They should not be used on salads at a starch meal.
The physiologist, Styles, runs from the practical application of our knowledge of the chemistry of digestion by saying: "If the mixed food is quite acid at the outset, it is hard to see how there can be any hydrolysis (enzymic digestion of starch) brought about by the saliva. Yet we constantly eat acid fruits before our breakfast cereal and notice no ill effects."
That we "notice no ill effects," from such acid-starch combinations, is true only of those who give no attention to the matter. All students of food combining know that this combination does produce ill effects. Stiles would, of course, say that these ill effects are due to germs.
He continues: "Starch which escapes digestion at this stage is destined to be acted upon by the pancreatic juice, and the final result may be entirely satisfactory." It is true that the starch will later be acted upon by the pancreatic and intestinal enzymes, providing it has not previously been acted upon by bacteria, the thing that usually occurs, giving us gas and a sour stomach and the notion that: "I cannot eat oranges or grapefruit. They give me gas."
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that no fermentation occurs, are we to assume, also that salivary digestion is of so small consequence that we can afford to dispense with it altogether? I do not think so and Stiles himself hints the same, when he adds: "Still it is reasonable to assume that the greater the work done by the saliva, the lighter will be the task remaining for the other secretions and the greater the probability of its complete accomplishment."
In cases of hyperacidity of the stomach there is great difficulty in digesting starches. Much discomfort is caused by eating them. They ferment and poison the body. Acid-starch combinations are very rare in nature--the sour apple coming nearest to being such a combination.
The highest efficiency in digestion demands that we eat in such a way as to offer the least hindrance to the work of digestion and not that we seek flimsy pretexts for continuing our customary haphazard eating. We should make the best use of our knowledge of the chemistry and physiology of digestion and of the limitations of the digestive enzymes and not try to ignore this knowledge altogether. This is particularly important in diseased states and in cases of crippled digestion.
Is it true that the pancreatic juice will digest starch when the first step in the process has not been made by the ptyalin? It is asserted by some that ptyalin is the only agent in the body capable of initiating the digestion of starch. Whether or not this is true, certainly salivary digestion is not to be regarded as unimportant. For, when it fails to occur, fermentation is practically certain to take place.
2. Never eat a concentrated protein and a concentrated carbohydrate at the same meal.
This means do not eat nuts, meat, eggs, cheese, or other protein foods at the same meal with bread, cereals, potatoes, sweet fruits, cakes, etc.
In the ancient Hebrew writing (Exodus) we read: "And Moses said * * * Jehovah shall give you in the evening, flesh to eat, and in the morning, bread to the full, * * * and Jehovah spake unto Moses saying * * * at evening ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread." This statement from Exodus is one of the earliest records of the practice of eating proteins and carbohydrates at separate meals. Perhaps this indicates that this was the custom of the time in which the book of Exodus was written. Was it the custom of the Hebrews only, or did they acquire this practice from the Egyptians among whom they are supposed to have spent some four hundred years and from whom they had just escaped? Some scholars insist that the books attributed to Moses were written at a later date, after the Hebrews were released from Babylonian bondage. Did they acquire the practice from the Babylonians? Unfortunately, historians have supplied us with little information about the living habits of the past.
The Bible story does not tell us anything of the origin of this custom, nor how long it had been in existence, but the fact that in that story it is invested with divine sanction may be taken to indicate how firmly fixed was the practice and how important it was considered among the Hebrews of the time. I do not pretend to know how widespread this practice may have been, nor how long it may have been practiced; but there is evidence that it was also a practice among the Greeks. In an article in Your Physique, Sept. 1946, David P. Willoughby, a leading authority on physical education, tells us that "the regular diet of pugilists and wrestlers of antiquity "consisted mainly of meat--preferably beef, pork, or kid--and bread. Meat and bread were not to be eaten at the same meal." Here is a practice of keeping proteins and carbohydrates apart in eating that has a sound physiological basis.
Remnants of the practice still exist among Mediterranean peoples. When an Italian working man makes a meal on a loaf of black bread and a few pieces of garlic, he may be following an ancient practice, that, so far as we know, may go all the way back to the instinctive practices of our primitive ancestors.
The Earl of Sandwich is credited with having invented the sandwich--a modern dietetic abomination. The hamburger, a similar abomination, is also a modern dietetic innovation. Egg sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, ham sandwiches and similar protein-starch combinations are of recent origin. Dr. Tilden used to say that Nature never produced a sandwich. How true are his words!
The digestion of carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and of protein is so different, that when they are mixed in the stomach they interfere with the digestion of each other. An acid process (gastric digestion) and an alkaline process (salivary digestion) can not be carried on at the same time in an ideal way in the stomach. In fact, they cannot proceed together at all for long as the rising acidity of the stomach contents soon completely stops carbohydrate digestion and this is followed by fermentation.
Marshall showed that undigested starch in large amounts in the stomach absorbs pepsin and thus prevents the acid from entering into combination with the proteins and so increasing the free hydrochloric acid.
Tests made in this country are said to have revealed that the eating of starches and proteins together delayed the digestion of protein but four to six minutes--an insignificant delay, if true. But Marshall's showing would lead us to think that protein digestion would be longer delayed, or that it may not be well digested at all.
Arthur Cason, M.D., D.P.H., F.R.S.A. (Lond.), writing in April 1945 Physical Culture mentions two groups of experiments made by him and his aids which showed that the eating of protein and carbohydrate at the same meal does retard and even prevent digestion. He made control tests in which were recorded digestive rates for each and a final analysis of the feces was made. He says "such tests always reveal that the digestion of proteins when mixed with starches is retarded in the stomach; the degree varying in different individuals, and also in the particular protein or starch ingested." He adds: "An examination of the fecal matter reveals both undigested starch granules and protein shreds and fibers, whereas, when ingested separately, each goes to a conclusion."
Cason's findings are more in line with what we would expect from Marshall's showings. It may be that the "tests" made in this country took into consideration nothing more vital than the emptying time of the stomach--a fallacy in the study of digestion that has been exploded in a previous chapter.
Beans contain about 25 % protein and approximately 50½ % carbohydrate or starch. This doubtless accounts for their difficult digestion and the readiness with which they ferment. Prof. McCollum says that navy beans have a peculiar and indigestible carbohydrate. But McCollum knows nothing of combinations. Beans are a "bread and meat" combination and each of their two principle constituents requires entirely different processes for digestion. The starch of the bean lies in the stomach while its protein is being digested and, except under the most favorable circumstances, ferments, producing gas and toxins. One of the best rules for eating, which I can offer you, is to eschew all beans. This does not include green beans, which contain little starch. Matured or "dried" beans of all types are known to every one to quickly ferment, when eaten, and produce much gas. The strong gastric juice of the stomach, which is engaged in digesting proteins, impedes starch digestion. Pythagorus advised that we eat no beans. We subscribe to that plan, making an exception only in the case of green beans.
Candy, sugar, etc., greatly inhibit the secretion of the gastric juice and markedly delay digestion. Consumed, a large amount at a time, candy is very depressing to stomach activity.
Whatever may be true with reference to the effects of the starch-protein combination upon the digestion of protein, it is certain that this combination is disastrous to starch digestion. There is no doubt that the gastric juice destroys the ptyalin of the saliva and stops salivary digestion.
The physiologist, Stiles, says in Nutritional Physiology; "the acid which is highly favorable for gastric digestion, for example, is quite prohibitive of salivary digestion." He, however, in common with all other physiologists, makes no practical application of this fact in feeding the well or the sick. He says of pepsin, "the power to digest proteins is manifested only with an acid reaction, and is permanently lost when the mixture is made distinctly alkaline.
The conditions which permit peptic digestion to take place are, therefore, precisely those which exclude the action of saliva." He sees no reason, however, why we should eat foods requiring salivary digestion at meals separate from those at which we eat foods requiring peptic digestion. Indeed, he declares of the salivary enzyme, ptyalin, "the enzyme is extremely sensitive to acid. Inasmuch as the gastric juice is decidedly acid it used to be claimed that salivary digestion could not proceed in the stomach. But it has come to be recognized that when a large mass of food is introduced into the stomach within a short time the gastric juice penetrates it rather slowly. A few minutes after the completion of a meal we may picture the stomach contents as being acidified near the surface, the acid slowly making its way inward, but having a neutral or even alkaline central portion. Salivary digestion will be continued in the steadily diminishing region not yet reached by the acid, and will cease only when the gastric secretion from one wall of the stomach meets that from the other."
This effort to escape the practical application of the physiological limitations of the digestive enzymes might have some merit, if we were in the habit of swallowing our food en mass, and not small amounts at a time. At the same time, the alkaline saliva must impede the work of pepsin, a thing that would be reduced to a minimum if proteins, which require little insalivation, were eaten alone. (It is not true that gastric juice is decidedly acid. It is sometimes strongly acid, sometimes very weakly acid, depending upon the character of food eaten). Why spend years in the study of physiology if we are to forget it immediately and disregard the practical applications that may be made of our knowledge of physiology.
Milo Hastings objects that laboratory feeding experiments have disregarded food combinations and have given attention to the diet as a whole. This objection has little weight. It is quite obvious that the laboratory has not given us the last word on feeding and Mr. Hastings is in no position to say that if and when combinations are tested in the laboratory the experimenters will not obtain better results than now in their feeding experiments.
Certainly foods requiring an alkaline condition for their digestion should not be eaten with foods necessitating an acid condition for their digestion. Foods requiring an alkaline condition for digestion should not be eaten with acids.
Stiles continues: "Any rotation of the contents would probably bring about an earlier distribution of the acid and arrest of starch digestion. No such rotation seems normally to occur." While there may be no rotation of the contents of the stomach, there is certainly considerable movement in it and this serves, as Stiles himself bears witness, to mix the semi-fluid foods. He talks of the food in the stomach as though it were more or less a solid mass through which the digestive juices must pass by osmosis; whereas this mass of chewed food, food juices, saliva and usually water, is a semi-fluid mass in constant to-and-fro motion. Assuming that he is right, there would still be interference with salivary digestion in those starches on the outside of the food-mass.
V. H. Mottram, professor of physiology in the University of London, says in his Physiology that it is in the distal end of the stomach that the churning movement mixes the food and gastric juice and no salivary action is possible. Now gastric juice digests protein and saliva digests starch. Therefore, it is obvious that for efficient digestion the meat (protein) part of a meal should come first and the starchy part second--just indeed as by instinct is usually the case. Meat precedes pudding the most economical course of procedure."
Mottram at least recognizes the fact that an acid gastric juice destroys ptyalin and stops starch digestion, even if he tries to squirm out of any rational application of the fact. Instinctively, as observed in the eating habits of wild animals (and of domestic animals also, where they are permitted to choose their own foods) proteins and carbohydrates are eaten at separate meals, not protein first and starch last. It is customary to eat meat, eggs, cheese, etc., and bread together. Watch a man eating a hamburger and see if he is instinctively taking his meat at the first part of his meal and his starch last. We can only assume that Prof. Mottram does not want to be classed as a "faddist," else he would not have resorted to this obvious "dodge" to escape the logical application of the facts of digestive chemistry he had presented.
Tilden, who was once a professor of physiology in a medical college, remarked: "Educated (scientific) M. D.'s, have known all about the chemistry of digestion, because their bosom companions, the Ph. D.'s, have overworked their laboratories, and particularly their glass stomachs (the immortal test-tubes), to serve their doctor friends." It is unfortunate that the physiologists have been so anxious to justify conventional eating practices and so unwilling to make any practical applications of the factors of digestive chemistry in eating. Had the physiologists not been derelict of their duty, our eating practices of today might be far different.
One objection to this rule of food combining often made is that the stomach is always acid. This assertion is made in obvious disregard for the facts of digestive chemistry which we have already learned. We know that the type of juice that is poured into the stomach is determined by the kind of food that is eaten.
Perhaps the most common objection made to this rule is that Nature, herself, has produced protein-starch combinations. Indeed, it is often asserted that almost all natural foods are starch-protein combinations. Alfred W. McCann reasoned that if nature combines starches and proteins in the same food there can be no harm in us combining them in the same meal. Carlton Fredericks, a biochemist, makes a somewhat similar objection to this rule. Such objections are made in obvious ignorance of the facts of digestive adaptations. The objectors should study physiology a little.
There is a marked difference between the digestion of a food and the digestion of a mixture of different foods. Let us look at the digestion of bread: here we have an almost neutral gastric juice while starch digestion is going on and, then, after starch digestion has been completed, a highly acid gastric juice is secreted to digest the protein.
Pavlov proved another thing with regard to the purposive adaptation of the digestive juices. Bread proteid requires much pepsin and but little acid. This requirement is met, not by an increased flow of juice, but by an extraordinary concentration of the juice secreted. Acid inhibits the digestion of the starch of the bread and so an excess of hydrochloric acid is avoided. It is obvious, from these facts, that the eating of a bread and meat combination is exceedingly unphysiological. Yet this simple practical application of our knowledge of the complex process of digestion is constantly ignored.
If wheat is eaten alone (a monotrophic meal), there will be secreted a juice poor in hydrochloric acid but rich in pepsin. This juice will be poured out over a long period of time. Thus starch digestion and protein digestion go on concurrently. If meat and bread are eaten together much hydrochloric acid is poured out, so that starch digestion is suspended. If we eat but one food at a meal, nature can adapt her digestive juices to the food; but if we are going to eat several foods at a meal, this adaptation is impossible, unless the food is properly combined. At that, cereals and pulses, which represent protein-starch combinations, sweet potatoes, a sugar-starch combination and sour apples, an acid-starch combination, are prone to produce fermentation.
Dr. Richard C. Cabot, of Harvard, says: "When we eat carbohydrates the stomach secretes an appropriate juice, a gastric juice of different composition from that which it secretes if it finds proteins coming down. It is one of the numerous examples of choice or intelligent guidance carried on by parts of the body which are ordinarily thought of as unconscious and having no soul or choice of their own."
This statement of Cabot's presents a fact of physiology. It is borne out by Pavlov's showing that each kind of food calls forth a particular activity of the digestive glands. The digestion of starches and proteins is so different that when these foods are eaten together, they interfere with the digestion of each other. The acid poured into the stomach to digest the protein prevents starch digestion.
To a single article of food that is a starch-protein combination the body can 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 adaptation of juices to requirements becomes impossible. If bread and flesh are eaten together, instead of an almost neutral gastric juice being poured into the stomach during the first two hours of digestion, a highly acid juice will be poured out immediately and starch digestion comes to an almost abrupt end. (Please note that carnivores in nature never mix carbohydrates with their meat.) Thus it is apparent that Frederick's statement that "the body is equipped to handle carbohydrates and proteins simultaneously with great efficiency" is not accurate and is based on ignorance of the facts of physiology.
It is true that the natural combinations offer but little difficulty in digestion, but neither the food factories nor the cooks have been able to produce protein-starch combinations capable of digestive completion. What nature has combined, nature can digest. What man may combine, she often finds indigestible. Dr. Tilden was eternally right when he repeated on more than one occasion that nature never produced a sandwich.
3. Never consume two concentrated proteins at the same meal.
Do not eat nuts and meat, or eggs and meat, or cheese and nuts, or cheese and eggs, etc., at one meal. Do not use meat and milk or eggs and milk or nuts and milk at the same meal. Indeed, milk, if taken at all, is best taken alone. Dr. Gibson well expresses it thus: "The best way with milk is either to take it alone or leave it alone." An exception may be made to this in the case of acid fruits. The popular superstition that lemons, berries, cucumbers, etc., with milk is dangerous has no foundation.
Two proteins of different characters and different compositions, calling for different types of digestive juices and these juices of different strength and character and pouring into the stomach at different times, should not be consumed at the same meal. One protein at a meal should be the rule.
There is protein in everything one eats, but in most foods there is such a small amount that we ignore it in combinations. All the rules for combining foods should be recognized as applying only to the concentrated starches, sugars, fats and proteins.
It is objected that since the various proteins differ so much in their amino-acid content and the body requires adequate quantities of certain of these it is necessary to consume more than one protein at a meal to secure adequate protein. Most people eat three meals a day or twenty-one meals a week. A great many of these eat between meals so that they eat many more meals a week. I can find no logical necessity for cramming them all into the stomach at one sitting. An ample variety of protein foods may be eaten by consuming different proteins at different meals.
Is there no significance in the fact that the strongest juice is poured out upon milk in the last hour of secretion? Do Orthodox Jews not follow a physiologically excellent practice when they refrain from eating milk and flesh together? Eggs require different timing in secretion than do either meat or milk. Should they not be eaten separately from flesh and milk? Perhaps the ruinous consequences of over-feeding tubercular patients on milk and eggs is at least partly explained by this indigestible food mixture.
4. Do not consume fats with proteins.
This means do not use cream, butter, oil, etc., with meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, etc.
Fat depresses the action of the gastric glands and inhibits the pouring out of the proper gastric juices for meats, nuts, eggs, or other protein. Fats mixed with foods delay the development of appetite juice and diminish its quantity. The presence of fats in the stomach diminishes the production of chemical juice. Fatty acids lessen the activity of the gastric glands, lessen the activity of the gastric juice and lower the amount of pepsin and hydrochloric acid and may lower the entire digestive tone more than fifty per cent. This inhibiting effect can come even from fats in the intestine. Oil introduced into the rectum decreases the amount of gastric juice, though it does not alter its quality. (Oil enemas are bad.)
One of my correspondents, a very careful student, a professor of anatomy in one of the country's leading universities, suggests that fat and starch is a poor combination. Among other reasons which he offers is this one, which strikes me as having some weight: "According to Cannon, * * * fats remain long in the stomach when taken alone and when combined with other food-stuffs markedly delay their exit through the pyloris. Under normal circumstances starches are retained in the stomach a relatively short time. By delaying the passage of the starch from the stomach into the intestine, due to the presence of the fat, we are affording excellent opportunity for fermentation, especially in the case of those who are enervated or otherwise possess weak digestive powers."
I fully agree with this student, W. R. Beard, of Columbus, Ohio, when he says: "At best, food combining, especially concentrated types, is a questionable experiment and an outgrowth of human ingenuity and of questionable merit." The less complex are our food mixtures, the simpler are our meals, the more efficient may we expect digestion to be.
Mr. Beard says that it has been his experience that the amount of fat taken with starch need not be great to cause fermentation. I have not personally observed this, but it may be an oversight on my part, that is, I may have attributed the resulting fermentation to something other than the combination.
Pavlov points out on the other hand, that fat and starch--bread and butter--is less difficult to digest and explains that, "bread requires for itself, especially when calculated per unit, but little gastric juice and but little acid, while the fat which excites the pancreatic glands insures a rich production of ferment both for itself and also for the starch and protein of bread." In dealing with the influence of the fat-starch combination upon digestive secretion, he comes very near to a recognition of the principle of incompatibility of foods. He says: "There is no struggle in this case between the several food constituents, and therefore no one of them suffers." It will be noticed that a fat-starch combination is not only good in the stomach, but equally good in the intestine.
5. Do not eat acid fruits with proteins.
This is to say, oranges, tomatoes, lemons, pineapples, etc., should not be eaten with meat, eggs, cheese or nuts.
Prof. Pavlov positively demonstrated the demoralizing influence of acids, both fruit acids and the acid results of fermentation, upon digestion. Acid fruits by inhibiting the flow of gastric juice--an unhampered flow of which is imperatively demanded by protein foods--seriously handicaps protein digestion and results in putrefaction. Nuts and fresh cheese are about the only protein foods that do not quickly decompose under such conditions and these have their digestion delayed. Acids do not inhibit the flow of gastric juice anymore or any longer than does the oil of nuts or the cream of cottage cheese.
Instead of orange juice, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, etc., assisting in the digestion of proteins when taken along with these as is taught in certain quarters, these acids actually retard protein digestion.
So-called health specialists and dietitians, who ignore this fact, and continue to recommend sour salad dressings and acid fruit drinks at meals, are unworthy of the trust placed in them by those who seek their advice. Lemon juice, vinegar, pickles, etc., when mixed with the food, serve as a check to hydrochloric secretion. Just as acids interfere with the secretion of hydrochloric acid, so sodium or alkali interferes with pepsin secretion and lowers gastric acidity.
I have not been able to find any evidence that acids other than hydrochloric acid activate pepsin. At any rate, there is no need for additional acids as the stomach is capable of supplying all the acids required to provide a favorable medium in which the pepsin can act and supply this at the right time. Additional acids rather than helping in the digestion of protein hinder or suspend the secretion of digestive juice. Gastric juice is not poured out in response to the presence of acids in the mouth and stomach.
Milk and orange juice, while by no means an indigestible combination, is far from a good combination. Orange juice and eggs form an even worse combination. Pineapple juice and flesh is equally as bad. Pineapple juice does not digest flesh. It is well to bear in mind that flesh is not digested by acid but by pepsin. The hydrochloric acid of the stomach supplies the proper environment for the action of pepsin.
6. Do not consume starches and sugars together.
Jellies, jams, fruit butter, sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, etc., on bread, cake, or at the same meal with cereals, potatoes, etc., or sugar with cereal, will produce fermentation. Hot cakes with honey or syrup is an abomination.
The practice of eating starches that have been disguised by sweets is also a bad way to eat carbohydrates. If sugar is taken into the mouth it quickly fills with saliva but no ptyalin is present. Ptyalin is essential to starch digestion. If the starch is disguised with sugar, jellies, jams, syrups, etc., the taste buds are deceived and carbohydrate digestion is impaired. Monosaccharides and di-saccharides ferment quicker than polysaccharides and are prone to ferment in the stomach while awaiting the completion of starch digestion.
Sweet fruits with starch result in as much fermentation and the same fermentation products, as does sugar, jellies or syrups. We do not feed these with starches. Wm. Henry Porter, M. D., in his book, Eating to Live Long, says that eating fruits is "one of the most pernicious and reprehensible of dietetic follies," but even he admits that fruits eaten without other foods are all right. He claims fruits prevent digestion of the other foods. He only needs to understand food combining.
For the reason that fruits of all kinds should not be combined with other foods, we must condemn as violations of the neurochemical laws of digestion the ever-increasing number of fruit-breads--raisin-bread, fig-bread, prune-bread, banana-bread, fruit in coffee-substitutes, etc. These things have but one excuse for existence--they induce the eater to take more bread and thus result in the sale of more of this food . They produce indigestion in everyone.
An inactive saliva is poured out abundantly upon dry or powdered meat, to moisten it and aid in swallowing; but no saliva is poured upon fresh meat. Similarly, much saliva, active in this case, is poured out upon dry starch, both to moisten and digest it; but no saliva is poured out upon boiled or soaked starch.
It has been known since Beaumont made his experiments, that pieces of metal, stone, etc., placed in the human stomach, do not excite the secretion of gastric juice. It is also true that non-starch substances, although they may occasion the secretion of copious amounts of saliva and may be well chewed, do not excite the production of an active digestive juice in the mouth. Even in the case of sugar, a carbohydrate, no ptyalin is secreted when this is eaten. To eat of sugar, white or brown, jellies, jams, honey, syrups and molasses, sweet fruits, etc., with bread or other starch is to invite fermentation.
Major Austin says: "foods that are wholesome by themselves or in certain combinations often disagree when eaten with others. For example, bread and butter taken together cause no unpleasantness, but if sugar or jam or marmalade is added trouble may follow. Because the sugar will be taken up first, and the conversion of the starch in the bread into sugar is then delayed. Mixtures of starch and sugar invite fermentation and its attendant evils."
Most of us are aware that no digestion of sugar, syrup, honey, etc., takes place in the mouth and stomach. Such being the case, why should sugars of any kind be delayed in the stomach awaiting protein or starch digestion. Fermentation is inevitable when this is done.
Sugar with starch rneans fermentation. It means a sour stomach. It means discomfort. Those who are addicted to the honey-eating practice and who are laboring under the popular fallacy that honey is a "natural sweet" and may be eaten indiscriminately, should know that this rule not to take sweets with starches applies to honey as well. Honey or syrup, it makes no difference which, with your hot cakes, honey or sugar, it matters not which, with your cereals, honey or sugar to sweeten your cakes, these combinations spell fermentation. White sugar, brown sugar, "raw" sugar, imitation brown sugar (that is, white sugar that has been colored), black strap molasses, or other syrup, with starches means fermentation. Soda will neutralize the resulting acids, it will not stop the fermentation.
7. Eat but one concentrated starch food at a meal.
The rule to consume but one starch food at a meal is probably more important as a means of avoiding overeating of starches than as a means of avoiding a bad combination. While overeating of starches may lead to fermentation, there is no certainty that the combination of two starches will do so.
It is insisted by many that the digestive organism has need of and invincible affinity for one form of starch at any particular time. If two or more starches are eaten at the same time, at the same meal, one or the other will be selected for digestion and assimilation and the other permitted to go untouched in the stomach, not only without itself being passed on to digestion in the bowels, but also retarding the digestion of other foods, with fermentation, sour Stomach, belching, etc., as the certain result."
There is only one kind of starch, but starchy foods differ greatly. It may be true that the starch-splitting enzymes manifest a preference for one starchy food, although I have been unable to find any physiological ground for the statement, nor have I seen fermentation result from eating two starches where they were each consumed in small quantities. I think the chief reason for not eating two starches at the same meal is to avoid overeating of starches.
Certain biochemists say that when you have taken bread and potatoes you have exhausted your starch-license. Hygienists advise but one starch at a meal, not because there is any conflict in the digestion of these foods, but because taking two or more starches at a meal is practically certain to lead to overeating of this substance. We find it best, and this is doubly true in feeding the sick, to limit the starch intake to one starch at a meal. People with unusual powers of self control may be permitted two starches, but these individuals are so rare, the rule should be: one starch at a meal.
Writing facetiously of rules for eating carbohydrates, Carlton Fredericks says: "Don't serve more than two foods rich in sugar or starch at the same meal. When you serve bread and potatoes, your starch-license has run out. A meal that includes peas, bread, potatoes, sugar, cake and after dinner mints should also include a Vitamin B Complex capsule, some bicarbonate of soda (other than that used on the vegetables), and the address of the nearest specialist in arthritis and other degenerative diseases."
For more than forty years it has been the rule in Hygienic circles to take but one starch at a meal and to consume no sweet foods with the starch meal. Sugars, syrups, honeys, cakes, pies, mints, etc., have not been tabu with starches. We do not say to those who come to us for advice: If you eat these foods with your starches, take a dose of baking soda with them. We tell them to avoid the sugars with the starches and thus avoid fermentation that is almost inevitable. In hygienic circles it is considered the height of folly to take a poison and then take an antidote with it. We think it best not to take the poison.
8. Do not consume melons with any other foods.
Watermelon, muskmelon, honeydew melon, pie melon, casaba melon, cantaloupe, and other melons should always be eaten alone.
I know of no physiological reason for this rule. We do know that these foods decompose very quickly in the stomach and are almost sure to cause trouble if eaten with other foods. If eaten alone--a meal made of them--so that they are quickly passed out of the stomach they form excellent and delightful foods. People who complain that melons "do not agree" with them will find that if they eat them alone--but not between meals--they can enjoy them without an aftermath of discomfort. Because of the ease with which melons decompose they do not combine well with any food, except, perhaps, with certain fruits. We always feed them alone, not between meals, but at meal time.
9. Milk is best taken alone or let alone.
Milk is the natural food of the mammalian young, each species producing milk peculiarly and precisely adapted to the various needs of its own young. It is the rule that the young take the milk alone, not in combination with other foods. Milo Hastings once objected that calves will take milk and a few minutes later eat grass. But we are not to forget that the calf has a few more stomachs than we have and can do this without difficulty.
Milk acts as a gastric insulator. Its cream inhibits the outpouring of gastric juice for some time after the meal is eaten. Milk does not digest in the stomach, but in the duodenum, hence in the presence of milk the stomach does not respond with its secretion. This prevents the digestion of other foods introduced along with the milk. Perhaps milk could be taken with starch, if we took pure starch, but no starch food is pure starch. The use of acid fruits with milk does not cause any trouble and apparently does not conflict with its digestion.
Bearing in mind the facts known about intestinal digestion it seems probable that proper combinations are important even in intestinal digestion. In other words, a properly combined meal is properly combined throughout the whole course of the digestive tube; while an improperly combined meal is probably wrongly combined throughout the whole course of digestion. A few facts may help to make this clear. Prof. Pavlov says, "the existence of fat in large quantities in the chyme restrains in its own interest the further secretion of gastric juice, and thus impedes the digestion of proteid substances; consequently a combination of fat and proteid-holding food is particularly difficult to digest."
While the processes of digestion in the intestine all take place in an alkaline medium and it seems logical to assume that combinations make little or no differences in the intestine, Dr. Cason says, in an article previously quoted from, that "the digestion of starches in the small intestine when accompanied by proteins produces a distinct stasis." This would indicate delayed digestion.
It seems certain that the putrefaction and fermentation that begins in the stomach as a consequence of wrong combinations will continue in the intestine. Good salivary and gastric digestion would seem to be essential to good intestinal digestion.
I append the accompanying chart, as a guide to food combining, which is modeled after one designed by Dr. Weger. I have made certain additions to the chart and have disagreed with him in a few minor particulars. My reasons for disagreeing with him are based both on physiological principles and experience. His chart does not include melons and fats and does not differentiate between sour or butter milk and sweet milk. These have been added to my chart.
Combinations marked good are good for the weakest digestion.
Combinations marked fair are permissible if digestion is unimpaired.
Combinations marked poor should never be employed unless digestion is at its highest.
Combinations marked bad should not be employed by even the strongest digestion.
Salads should contain no starch, such as potatoes; no proteins, such as eggs or shrimp; no oils, such as olive oil or dressings containing oil; no acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. Salt should also be omitted. Sugar syrup molasses and honey have been left out of this chart because they combine badly with all foods and also because they are best not eaten.
A second food combining chart is presented which may prove more helpful to some of my readers. By studying the two charts, it is easy to find the foods that do combine with each other. Making use of these facts of combination, the following plan of eating tor three meals a day is suggested:
Breakfast: Fruit. Any fruit in season may be used. It is suggested that not more than three fruits be used at a meal, as, tor example, grapes, well ripened bananas and an apple. It is well to have an acid fruit breakfast one morning and a sweet fruit breakfast the next. In season breakfast may be made of melons. In the winter months, one or two dried fruits such as figs, dates, raisins, prunes, etc., may be substituted for the fresh fruits. A winter breakfast of grapes, figs and pears will be found ideal.
Noon meal: A vegetable salad (omitting tomatoes from this salad), one cooked green vegetable and a starch.
Evening meal: A large raw vegetable salad (if nuts or cottage cheese are to be used as the protein, tomatoes, may be used in this salad), two cooked non-starchy vegetables and a protein.
Fat meats, sour apples, beans, peanuts, peas, cereals, bread and jam or hot-cakes and honey or syrup, are notoriously slow in digesting and are frequent sources of discomfort and putrescent poisoning. Much of this is well known to the layman, all of it may be known to the careful observer. The intelligent person will not lightly cast aside such facts but will use them as guides in eating.
Occasional indulgence in any old food combinations will not do great harm," says Major Austin. "It is not what we do occasionally that matters much but what we do habitually that tells in the long run.
"It is certainly everyone's duty to have the courage of his convictions but a cause is not benefited by unreasonable advocates. So when at a friend's table do not deliver a homily on food combinations, and critically select and refuse, causing the host embarrassment Take what is offered, and do not think about it unless sick or uncomfortable; then do not eat. No one should eat when seedy or out of sorts--no, not to please anyone."
The continuous struggle with indigestible food mixtures and with the poisonous products of their bacterial decomposition sooner or later wears out the body, for it is a break on the process of nutrition that involves a prodigious waste of the vital forces and draws upon physiological reserves which have been set aside for future use. What are those acid eructations (belchings) that so commonly follow meals of meat and bread, starch and milk, fruit and starch, sugar and starch, and other combinations we condemn? Are they symptoms of good digestion? There is gastric distress ("heart burn"), gas and eructations that cause throat irritation, mucus flow and coughing. The eructations are often so acrid, they cause burning of throat and nose.
Feed these people correctly combined meals and their fermentation with gas and eructations end. Physicians and others who scoff at food combining would show more intelligence if they would study the effects of the indigestible mixtures they prescribe and cease wasting time ridiculing those who are attempting to teach the people sane eating practices. While they sit and scoff the world moves on and leaves them.
Physicians, druggists and patent medicine manufacturers are kept busy supplying the demand for drugs to relieve the discomforts that grow out of wrong food combinations. Millions of dollars are yearly spent for alkalizers, laxatives and anti-gas remedies. Tons of Alkaseltzer, Tums, Bell-Ans, bicarbonate of soda, charcoal, milk of magnesia, syrup pepsin, etc., are swallowed yearly by the American public. Physicians prescribe as many more tons of drugs for the relief of abdominal discomfort.
Fermentation and putrefaction is so well nigh universal in the digestive tracts of our people that many physiologists and physicians have come to look upon the sub-diaphramatic cess-pool as normal. The fermentation and putrefaction is present in the digestive tracts of those who experience no discomfort in the abdomen. These people who experience no abdominal distress will swear that their bad combinations do not bother them.
One of the two chief reasons for careful eating is to prevent fermentation and putrefaction of food. One of the greatest causes of gastro-intestinal decomposition is wrong food combining. It is difficult to exaggerate the clinical picture resulting from the reeking decomposition which begins in the stomach and continues in the intestine as a result of food-mixtures which are all but indigestible.
Must I emphasize that the products of bacterial decomposition of food-stuffs are the same when the decomposition occurs in the stomach as when the food rots outside the body. The putrescence arising in the digestive tract is no less hostile to life and health than when it arises in a swill barrel.
Let us notice an average meal consumed in the average home. It consists of bread, meat, potatoes, perhaps a soup or pie or a dessert of gelatin or ice cream or canned or stewed fruit, and one or more green vegetables. There are the usual gravies and sauces, sugar and cream, catsup, mustard, salt, pepper, and milk, tea or coffee. Indeed, the purpose of eating seems to be to see how great a variety of heterogeneous substances can be put into the stomach at one time. Of course, no digestive system was ever designed to digest such an unholy combination of foods, slops and "relishes." The stomachs of those who eat such meals have been converted into swill barrels and garbage cans. Fermentation and putrefaction are inevitable.
Did you ever notice a garbage barrel; the great variety of substances in it--meats, eggs, several kinds of vegetables and fruits and scraps from the table, coffee and other substances. What a lot of putrescence results when it begins to decompose! Now think of all the putrescence that will develop in your alvine canal, when a similar mixture of food substances undergoes bacterial decomposition therein. Can you imagine good health resulting from such eating? Do you marvel that people are sick?
All the secretions of the digestive tract--saliva, hydrochloric acid, bile, pancreatic juice, intestinal juice--are antiseptic, or bactericidal. Gastric juice possesses an anti-fermentative power to prevent bacterial decomposition in food. The same is true of bile. The hydrochloric acid of the stomach, together with pepsin, the trypsin of the pancreatic juice and perhaps the intestinal juice are normally very destructive to germ life, digesting germs as readily as meat or bread. They resist and prevent bacterial decomposition in this garbage and attempt to digest it. But complete success in either of these efforts is impossible. Digestion cannot be perfect and more or less bacterial decomposition is inevitable. Such eating is better designed to poison than to nourish the body.
The American breakfast of grapefruit and sugar followed by baked apples, or stewed fruit or jam, and completed with coffee and sugar, perhaps eaten hurriedly, while nervously fingering the morning paper, and topped off with a cigarette, is sending millions to the doctors of all schools and ushering many thousands into premature graves.
Orthodox (?) food scientists and their trailers in medical ranks thought that with the discovery of "calories," they had found the master key that would unlock all the mysteries of human dietetics. Basing their work on the calorie standard, physicians would prescribe a diet for a patient about like the following:
Lamb stew with vegetables (400 calories), mashed potatoes (175 calories), sliced tomatoes (100 calories), strawberry shortcake and cream (160 calories), or ice cream (200 calories), a glass of buttermilk (130 calories), stewed prunes (150 calories); this constituting 1115 calories or approximately one-third the estimated required 3500 calories.
With the "discovery" of "vitamins" the same foolish mistake is being repeated. The most deficient and one-sided diets are fed and then small quantities of supposed vitamin-rich substances--orange juice, tomato juice, cod-liver oil, yeast, etc.--are fed in a vain endeavor to render such diets adequate.
The calorie was a fetish. The vitamin has become the same. The older food specialists completely overlooked the important fact that the patient did not secure his calories from his food unless he digested and assimilated it. He fed his patients the most incongruous and indigestible mixtures, which set up fermentation and decomposition, and this completely changed the character of the food and as completely altered its relations to the body and its welfare.
The present day food specialist, feeding vitamins instead of calories, makes the same mistake. He feeds his patients abominable mixtures of soup, potatoes, pies or puddings, preserves, ice cream, coffee, or tea and then, "balances" it up with a teaspoonful of orange juice or a dose of grease of the cod-liver.
Such mixtures as this and the one described before will take on decomposition and turn out such products as carbonic acid gas, alcohol, ammonia, bacterial acids, etc. In order to neutralize, isolate and eliminate these poisons the body will be forced to draw upon its precious vital reserves. Such food mixtures not only do not yield up their calories and vitamins to the body in full measure, but they rob it of its reserves. For, when poisons accumulate in the body beyond its ordinary powers to neutralize and eliminate, its reserves are called upon and expended in freeing the body of the toxins.
The only reason that the great mass of poisons which arise out of the decomposition of our foods in our digestive tracts do not result in speedy death, is that nature has provided us with constitutional reserves with which to resist the recurrent accidents and emergencies of our daily lives. These reserves are especially intended to meet the needs of old age, when the forces of life are feeble and the self-regenerative powers of the body are impaired.
If the body's reserves are carefully hoarded they will carry us well beyond the hundred-year mark with youthful enthusiasm and zest. Their depletion is one of the most common calamities of modern life. The alkaloids and alcohols, with which gastro-intestinal decomposition charges our bodies, rob us of our reserves, greatly weaken our vital resistance and sooner or later produce a state of physiological collapse. We permit the silent, continuous leakage of our vital reserves until, by its sapping influence, we are brought below the line of safety. Our powers of repair and restitution are bankrupted and we are unable to "come back."