Food combining

Food combining is an understanding of what foods combine to create better digestion and what foods combine and are indigestible. It is pretty simple to understand in the Western view of nutrition. Yet, for some reason, it has been skipped over in our education of health. There is more to it than what the Western view is but to learn the basics is a good starting point to getting a handle on healthy digestion.

Herbert Shelton wrote the first book on it back in 1951 called, Food Combining Made Easy and really not much has changed since then in the Western view of digestion. You can get a free downloadable verision here :


There are four basic laws to live by in this for a starting place

1. Eat fruit and melon alone. Fruit has the highest water content of any food and travels through the body quickly. It contains sugars that are ready for the body to utilize and provides its own enzymes. The body works hard to pass fruit out of the stomach as quickly as possible. This is why fruit should not be combined with other foods. If you have fruit during or following your meal, the sugar in the fruit will ferment in the stomach, causing bloating and gas. Many people think eating fruit for dessert is a healthy choice, but it actually gets held up in your stomach by other foods and causes fermentation. Allow at least 1-2 hours after eating fruit before eating any other kind of food.

2. Avoid combining starch and animal protein. Animal proteins and starchy foods require different digestive juices in order to be properly broken down and used by the body. The digestion of starches begins in the mouth with the enzyme ptyalin. Proteins are mainly broken down by hydrochloric acid in the stomach and the enzyme pepsin. When protein and starch are eaten together, ptyalin is not produced in the saliva, so the starch is not predigested in the mouth. Thus, it enters the stomach and begins to ferment. In addition, protein needs to be digested in an acidic environment and starch in an alkaline environment. So when proteins and starches are combined, the acid and alkaline juices neutralize each other. Thus, neither the proteins nor the starches are fully digested and the essential nutrients are not utilized by the body.

3. Eat starches alone or with vegetables. Vegetables are high in water content and easy to digest. They can be digested in either an acid or alkaline environment. Thus they can be combined with starches or with proteins.

4. Eat animal proteins alone or with vegetables. The fiber contained in vegetables helps to move the non-fiber protein foods rapidly through the intestines. Thus, if you eat a meal with animal protein, it’s a good idea to also have lightly steamed vegetables.


Here are a couple charts to make it all easier…..




Now this is not Ayurveda. Ayurveda takes all of this knowledge and kinda flips it on its head. While some of it still holds true, it is coming from a template that is kinda broken or better, the understanding is from a lens that is trying to see things on the small scale instead of the entire picture and in this it loses much of how things really work.


The intake of water with meals is forbidden in food combining as the thought is that it washes out the enzymes to digest. Ayurveda used the liquid in a meal to digest and assimilate the food as 1/3 food, 1/3 water, and 1/3 air is used to create proper digestion of a meal. Very easily we see the flaw in the western food combining’s thoughts on this by seeing that if there is not water in the food the food will not be able to have chemical breakdown. This doesn’t mean to flood your body with water during a meal though. Also Ayurveda uses liquid around a meal for treatment. Western doesn’t see any difference in each individual’s digestion therefore everyone should be doing the same. Drinking before a meal, slows the digestion incredibly. Drinking with a meal helps the proper assimilation and digestion, drinking after a meal is also used as a treatment for balancing one’s digestive imbalance. Each is individual to the person.


The western view lso has no way of seeing qualities and potencies of foods and what it does. Combining opposites in food like putting cardomon and ginger together in a chai is actually, believe it or not, combining opposites which is against the understanding of ayurvedic food combining. One has a hot potency and the other a cold potency. The create dysfunction in the digestion and the simpler you make the digestion process the better it works.


There is also the understanding of the digestive process with tastes in Ayurveda. You eat from heaviest to lightest and sweet to astringent. This follows the digestion thru the system in accordance to the organs and digestion and allows proper digestion to happen. That is very detailed and will be another post though. More needs to be understood before getting into that detail.




4 thoughts on “Food combining

  1. Great site and articles, big volume but good
    Could you please explain how is food combining done according to ayurweda exactly? The only things I can find are melon, fruits and dairy rules. And sometimes sites try to copy paste this western food combining from 1951 and say its ayurveda. I also have two big ayurvedic books and they both do not mention the starch/meat combo. Besides rice and grains contain proteins as well so its confusing. Where is true ayurveda in all this chaos?

    • Jack,

      Hello. Thanks, glad you like the site. Did you do a search and read the other articles on food combining???
      Maybe I should clear things up a bit and that you do not understand what you are asking. Yes, I can explain how is food combining done according to ayurveda exactly. But you would have to hire me to teach you for a couple years so that you have the fundamentals to comprehend the depth of it. It is not an easy thing to explain all the nuances. It is not like it is a 1 + 1 = 2 thing.

      There are several articles written on it here with the rules, this is probably as deep as your gonna find it anywhere. Study all of Ayurveda and you can learn the reasons for the rules. As far as writing an article on that, no.

      The reason is that it is extremely complex and your not gonna find it written in any of those made for the masses books. The complexity has absolutely nothing at all to do with carbohydrates and proteins. I mean really use the brain we are given and we’d see right away that 5000 years ago, there was no nonsense of protein and carbohydrates. We can not combine the sciences. Ayurveda is based in a completely different paradigm.
      Hope you get what i am saying.

      and there are more as well…

  2. Thanks for the great website, feels good to finally find somebody with a deep and authentic understanding of ayurveda.
    I was reading your article on the food combining and I wondered if there are also guidelines for the oil combining for massage?
    I like to mix sesame oil with sunflower oil to get a kind of not too hot / not too cold oil as it would fit the season and body type I am. I also add lavander to pacify vata and Eucalyptus for warming a little.
    Are there guidelines for these? Am I doing wrong mixing oils with diferent properties?

    • Hi Tom.
      Guidelines for oil combining for oils for abhaynga, yes, of course. Decoctions are made. Just as there are specific treatment protocols to follow such as #1 if someone has aama, abhyanga is completely and totally contraindiacted. There are also very much detailed ways of making the oils that are used for abhyanga as well as selection of those oils for the proper treatment. You don’t just pour oils together. There is no such thing as vata oil and pitta oil and kapha oil like the western world of Ayurveda is selling to the masses. Just to get that straight right away.

      There are many many medicinal oils that are used as per the diagnosis of the person and what is needed for them. It is not just some dosha based oil. Those people selling that stuff don’t know Ayurveda or they are just scamming people. Example, if you were to do a search on say, kshira bala thailum, if you search hard enough you will find its qualities and ingredients and what it is used for. Now i am not saying to just use that oil. I am just using that as a general example to see that there are a vast number of oils to be used.

      No, what your doing with blending those oils has really nothing at all to do with Ayurveda, at all.

      The knowledge your looking for is found in dravyaguna. It is not simple in any shape or form.

      Best is just to use sesame oil for abhyanga. Unless you actually know what you are doing.
      If you want you can try to show me from the texts where the essential oils are doing, that would be great. I can tell you from Ayurveda, Eucalyptus’ Rasa is Katu, Tikta, Kaśāya – Gunas of Eucalyptus….. Laghu, Snigdha – Virya is Ushna
      Vipāka is Katu – and the Karmas that it does are Anulomana, Dīpana, Durgandhanāśaka, Kaphanisāraka, Krmighna, Mūtrala, Pācana, Pratidū¾aka, Pūtihara, Śūlaghna, Svedajanana, Uttejaka, Vātahara, Vedanāsthāpaka, Viramajvarapratibandhaka.
      Its used for Agnimāndya, mvāta, Bāla pratiśyāya, Basti śotha, Dura vrata, Jīrapūyāmeha, Jvara, Kāsa, Krmi, Pīnasa, Pratiśyāya, Sandhivāta, Śirā śūla, Sūtikā Jvara, Śvāsa, Tvak roga, and Yaksmā. If you do not have any of those, I wonder why one would be using.
      And then what are the gunas of lavender? If you are putting a laghu substance together with a guru substance or a shita with a ushna…. what happens? In Ayurveda, not good. Just saying.
      You are welcome to do whatever you like to do though and follow where ever you choose to get your information. Good luck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: