This guy I know is trying to shed pounds, and his practitioner put him on a food-combining diet.
It seems to be a way of eating where you don't jumble certain kinds of foods, like carbs and protein, in your tummy at one time.
It's based on the idea that bad combos hinder digestion and absorption.
Bye-bye, bread and cheese.
An offshoot of this what-goes-with-what approach is a system of rating foods according to their pH. Some edibles are acidic and some alkaline, and the theory is that balancing them is the key to longevity.
Does it really matter what foods sit together on your plate when it comes time to tuck in?
What the experts say
"In digestion, proteins need an enzyme called protease, which requires an acidic environment to be activated. Carbs are digested by enzymes lipase and amylase and require more of an alkaline environment. We eat meat and potatoes, but they don't digest together well. Fruits are best eaten by themselves, though if they're acidic it's best to eat them with other acidic foods. Green vegetables go with meat and pretty much everything. Same thing with cheese. Don't combine two proteins; this is tough on the digestive system."
SUSHMA SHAH, naturopath, Toronto
"Food combining sounds scientific, but it's really pseudoscience. The pancreas releases pancreatic enzymes for every macronutrient: fat, carbohydrate, protein. Most foods are not single macronutrients. Vegetables have lots of carbohydrate, but they also have protein. Dairy has carbohydrate, protein and fat. Fruit is almost all carbohydrate, but there is a tiny dot of protein. So we're going to get all those nutrients at the same time anyway. The food that drops into the top portion of the small intestine comes in acidic, but as pancreatic enzymes are released, so are other juices, including bicarbonate. That will control the pH."
JILL WEISENBERGER, dietitian, nutrition consultant, Yorktown, Virginia
"The body must have a specific pH level in the blood and tissue. That pH is regulated through breathing and through the kidneys. In healthy people, acid can accumulate through an unbalanced diet. It can take a significant toll because the body must buffer those acids. Certain food in excess, like meats, proteins, processed foods, coffee, sugar and alcohol are acid-forming. They can be balanced by foods that alkalize, like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. If you eat too many acid foods, the body draws buffering compounds out of the blood, tissue and bone. Half the bone lost in a lifetime is due to acid-buffering."
SUSAN E. BROWN, author, The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide, Syracuse, New York
"These trends come and go, and there isn't much of a scientific basis for them. If you eat too much acidic food, it might affect the digestion phase in the stomach, but once it passes that, the body has its own system of adjusting and buffering and keeping very tight control. The body buffers all the time, no matter what you eat, but that doesn't mean that because of acidity you're going to wind up with diabetes or another chronic disease."
NURGUL FITZGERALD, professor of nutritional sciences, Rutgers University, New Jersey
"There haven't been any studies where two randomized groups of people eat mixed meals that include fats, proteins and carbohydrates or separated meals. When you eat food, the enzymes released in your mouth (amylase) digest carbohydrates. Fat and protein are broken down into little pieces. So whether you eat a plain baked potato, a potato with butter or with butter and roast beef, it goes to your stomach, where the long strings of protein are broken down into smaller fragments. If the digestive system is flattened out, it's about the size of a tennis court. The idea that eating meals in certain ratios inhibits absorption is preposterous when you consider that the surface area is so large."
DOUG COOK, registered dietitian, Toronto