Does Eating Each Food Group Separately Help Digestion?

There has been a debate in recent years regarding digestion and food combining. Some diet plans advocate not mixing certain food groups. By doing so, it is argued that you will see improved digestion, a faster metabolism, greater energy and maybe even weight loss.

The Theory behind Separating Food Groups

Food combining advocates argue that not all food groups are created alike when it comes to the amount of time it takes to digest them. Vegetables, fruits and juices are usually digested in less than an hour. This is in contrast to dairy products, proteins, nuts, seeds and complex carbohydrates that may take up to several hours for your body to digest. Desserts with high sugar content take a long time to digest. Some argue that desserts should not be eaten with meals because this may cause them to remain in the stomach undigested.

The idea is to not mix foods from different groups. For example, eat fruits by themselves. Do not eat desserts with your meals or immediately after. Allow time for your meal to first digest. If you eat complex carbs which can take hours to digest, do not combine them with proteins. By this theory, you would avoid eating conventional sandwiches such as hamburgers and BLTs. You could eat pasta for lunch and then chicken for dinner to separate the carbs and protein. It is okay to combine vegetables with proteins or carbs.

In following these rules, the theory is that you will not overtax your stomach. Your digestion will improve because you are not dealing with a variety of dissimilar foods all at once. If you eat fruits in the morning, for example, and allow several hours before eating lunch, your body can start the day with a food that is easily and quickly digested. It will receive the calories it needs to give you energy without the burden of digesting complex carbs and proteins first thing in the morning.

Also important for digestion is chewing food thoroughly to make it easier on your system. Food combining advocates encourage this as an important part of aiding digestion. When you do not chew your food enough, you overwhelm the digestive system and some foods may pass through without proper processing.

Does Separating Food Groups Aid Digestion?

Does following these rules and separating food groups aid your digestion? No solid scientific evidence exists to support these theories. There are people who have been eating hamburgers with “all the fixings” their whole lives who do not suffer from digestive issues. The other criticism of this theory is the difficulty it poses in meeting all of your nutritional needs. Being careful to separate the food groups or eat in certain combinations requires a great deal of planning. It can be inconvenient and sometimes impossible to accomplish, especially when eating out or when dining as someone’s guest.

In short, the jury is still out on whether separating food groups will aid your digestion. The best thing to do is give it a try and see if it works for you. If you see an improvement in digestive issues and are able to meet your nutritional needs, then this might be a useful strategy for you.


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