Everything we eat affects our bodies in different ways. Fruit, vegetables, proteins, grains, and starches all require different enzymes to be digested and assimilated by the body. Sometimes, mixing these different foods together is fine. But some combinations can cause digestive distress. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your meals.

Proteins and Starches

This is one food combining rule you have probably heard before dont mix proteins and starches. But its not as cut and dry as you might think. Some foods, like beans, naturally mix protein and starch. And in some complex meals protein can actually help mitigate the insulin response caused by starchy foods.

But you may want to avoid this mix if you have specific goals.

* Fat Burning :

Eating protein or fat with starch will make those starchy calories get stored as fat cells. This is because the body breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins at different times and with different enzymes. While they can all be digested if eaten at the same time, the will not all be burned as efficiently when they are combined in this way.

* Maintain Current Weight :

Mixing carbs and protein is fine if you are trying to build muscle or maintain your current weight, and have a strong digestion. But if you are prone to weight gain, do not always break down your meals easily, or need to detox, you might want to keep the almond butter and bread separate.

* Large Meals :

This rule also matters more if you tend to eat large meals. It is a lot easier for the digestive system to break down the protein/starch combo when there is plenty of space. But if you overwhelm the belly it gets even harder to process the starch.

Melons Alone

This is one cardinal food combining rule that is well worth following. Melons digest so quickly (20-30 minutes) that eating anything else with them is asking for an upset stomach.

Melons are great for digestion and vitality when eaten alone. They also prime the digestive engines, so to speak, so they make a good appetizer. Eating a solid meal about 30 minutes after the melons will help prevent the blood sugar crash that sometimes accompanies eating such a sweet fruit alone.

No Deserts

Fruit after more complex foods makes for a mess in the belly. Let go of the whole idea of eating sweet things after meals. Sugar digests much faster than protein, fat, or complex carbs, and having it after other foods can create fermenting gastric disturbances (that is as uncomfortable and loud as it sounds).

Fatty, sweet deserts are even more detrimental for weight loss. Eating fructose (fruit sugar) with fat slows down metabolism of the fat, and makes the body store it. Better to leave the raw nut and agave syrup pies alone if you are trying to lose weight.

What if I Cant Help It?

If you really must have a nut butter sandwich, or insist on eating mango salsa with flax crackers, only have a little. If you are going to a buffet or potluck, set yourself up for digestive success by eating or drinking something acidic or fermented about 20 minutes before your meal.

This could be a bowl of miso soup, a glass of kombucha, some sauerkraut, or even a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water.

Very little research has been done about food combining, and different experts say different things. What I understand is that it matters most if your goal is to burn fat, and/or you have sensitive digestion. If you have an iron stomach and are fine with your current weight, then you have more license to mix it up.

But it you are trying to lose weight or your stomach tends to get upset, you may want to separate your starches and proteins, eat fruit alone, and aim for small, simple meals in general.

How to Combine Foods for Optimal Health Dr. Mercola
Food Combining: Fact or Fiction? Mark Sisson
Food Combining and Timing for Health Dallas Clouatre, PhD