Food Combining Rules for Healthy Digestion‎


   There are physiological reasons for eating foods in compatible combinations, because some foods, if mixed in the digestive system, will cause distress.

The principles of food combining are dictated by digestive chemistry. Dr. Herbert M. Shelton found that different foods are digested differently:

  • Starchy foods require an alkaline digestive medium which is supplied initially in the mouth by the enzyme ptyalin;
  • Protein foods require an acid medium for digestion- hydrochloric acid. 

The acids and bases (alkalis) neutralize each other. If you eat a starch with a protein, digestion is impaired or completely arrested!

The undigested food mass can cause various kinds of digestive disorders. Undigested food becomes soil for bacteria which ferment and decompose it. These bacteria products are poisonous, one of which, alcohol, is a narcotic that destroys or inhibits the digestive tract nerve function.

  Basic Rules of Proper Food Combining:

  • Eat acids and starches at separate meals. Acids neutralize the alkaline medium required for starch.
  • Eat protein foods and carbohydrate foods at separate meals. Protein foods require an acid medium for digestion.
  • Eat one kind of protein food at a meal.
  • Eat proteins and acid foods at separate meals. The acids of acid foods inhibit the secretion of the digestive acids required for protein digestion. Undigested protein putrefies in bacterial decomposition and produces some potent poisons.
  • Eat fats and proteins at separate meals. Some foods, especially nuts, are over 50% fat and require hours for digestion.
  • Eat sugars (fruits) and proteins, or starchy foods at separate meals.
  • A minimal amount of sweet acidic citrus fruit might digest well with avocado, nuts, seeds and young coconut (whole, or blended into dressings) – test it and learn.
  • Do not eat acidic citrus fruits with other types of sweet fruits.
  • Tomato, Cape gooseberry and tomatillo combine well with nuts, seeds and avocado.
  • Do not eat fatty high-protein foods (nuts, seeds and coconut) with sweet fruit or starchy foods (squash, tubers, carrots, peas and corn).
  • A minimal amount of avocado might combine well with starchy foods.
  • Nuts and seeds can be eaten together. Avoid eating nuts/seeds with avocado and coconut.
  • Eating nuts, seeds, coconut and avocado with green neutral vegetables (e.g., lettuce, kale, celery) and/or cucumbers typically enhances digestion as additional proper digestive juices will aid in the digestion of the fat.
  • Sweet peas and young carrots fresh from the garden are no starchy; older ones are starchy.
  • Starchy foods combine well with all vegetables and non-sweet fruits except tomatoes-–-do not mix tomatoes with starchy foods. Protein/fatty foods combine well with no starchy vegetables and cucumbers. Avocado combines well with any kind of vegetable, tuber and non-sweet fruit.
  • Take milk products alone.
  • Space out your meals, allowing time for your system to assimilate and rest.


Green and Non-Starchy Vegetables

Arugula Chicory Lettuce Sorrel
Asparagus Collard greens Mung bean sprouts Spinach
Bamboo shoots Cucumber Mushrooms Sweet pepper
Beet greens Dandelion greens Mustard greens Sweet corn
Broccoli Eggplant Okra Swiss chard*
Broccoli Endive Onion Turnip
Brussels sprouts Escarole Parsley Turnip greens
Cabbage Fennel Radishes Watercress
Cauliflower Garlic* Rhubarb* Yellow summer squash
Celery Green beans Scallion Zucchini
  Kale Seaweed (all)
Chard* Kohlrabi Snap beans

*not recommended as foods


Starches and Sugars

Starches Mildly Starchy Sugars
All cereals Cauliflower Brown sugar
Beans† Beets Maple syrup
Chestnuts Carrots Honey
Corn Rutabaga Malt syrup
Peas Salsify Rice syrup
Potatoes (all kinds) Parsnip Brown sugar
Peanuts White sugar
Winter Squash
Jerusalem Artichokes

†Note that the protein content of beans is low in quantity and very low in biological value. Therefore, beans have been classified here as a starch. By contrast, soybeans (below) are high in excellent-quality protein and contain no starch.



Almonds Fish Pecans
Avocado Flax seeds Pignolia nuts
Black walnuts Fowl Pilinuts
Brazil nuts Hickory nuts Pinon nuts
Cashews Lentils Pistachios
Cereals (all) Meat Pumpkin seeds
Cheese Milk‡ Sesame seeds
English walnuts Olives Soybeans
Filberts Peanuts Sunflower seeds

‡Note that milk is a combination of sugar and protein.


Sweet Fruits Sub-Acid Fruits Acid Fruits
Bananas Apple** Citrus Fruits (all)
Grapes Apricot Dried Fruits (all)
Mango Cherries** Pineapple
Plantain Peach** Tomato
Guava Pear
Lychee** Plum**
Kiwi** Mango
Pomegranate** Nectarine

**When sour, these fruits are classified as acid.
*Cheese or nuts are fair with acid fruit.
Starches are fair with sub-acid fruits, bad with everything else.
Melons are fair with sweet or sub-acid fruit.
Fats are good with everything except melon.
Avocado is good with acid fruit or green vegetables.
Milk should be taken alone.
Yogurt is fair with all fruit other than melons.


This is an abbreviate version of  the basic Principle of Ayurveda regarding Food Combination


The principles of Ayurveda were derived from the writing of the ancient Indian physicians. The period is believed to be the 100 A.D. The important Ayurvedic principles are:
  • Eating minimal dish types say two or three are recommended as compared to the modern day (at least six dishes).
  • Ayurveda recommends simple and delicious foods. For thousands of years humans consumed the natural or unprocessed foods in the simplest ways.
  • Ayurveda diet also talks about the different foods consumed at various seasons to suit the climatic conditions.
  • Ayurveda recommends eating healthy and nutritious food for healthy life.

 Food Combinations you should not eat according to Ayurveda

  • After drinking milk, do not consume yogurt or anything with the sour taste or citrus fruits such as lemon etc.
  • Ayurveda discourages taking fruits along with the starchy foods such as potatoes, as it takes very long time to digest.
  • It recommends Melon – it should be eaten alone and also avoid taking melons with grains. Grains take more time to digest, whereas melons digest very quickly.
  • According to Ayurveda Honey should never be cooked, as it becomes poison when cooked. Uncooked honey is good for health.
  • Eggs are always incompatible with milk, yogurt, cheese, fish and bananas and eating these in any combination will cause health problems.
  • Cool drinks reduce the digestive power when taken with meals and should be avoided.
  • Fruits as a rule should always be eaten alone and should not be mixed with any other food. However, there might be some exceptions, such as certain cooked combo which have the same rasa, virya and vipaka.
  • Avoid eating meat protein and milk protein together.
  • Our body constitution stays healthy if the meal is completed by drinking a cup of lassi. The ideal combination is four table spoon of yogurt with a little ginger, fennel and cumin powder and with addition of water to make it a smooth drink.

  Causes of Imbalanced Agni (Which Leads to Indigestion)

  1. Spicy foods, chilly, oily foods, medicines, milk and milk products, tobacco and alcohol.
  2. Irregular food habits and sleeping patterns.
  3. Medications like pain killers, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and steroids.
  4. Intestinal parasites.
  5. Diseases of the pancreas, liver, gall bladder, intestines etc.
  6. During pregnancy, premenstrual period, menopausal period in women.
  7. Emotional upset like anxiety, stress, examination, family tensions, etc.

 Home Remedies for Indigestion 


 –  Eat ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger with a pinch of rock salt before each meal to stimulate agni.

–  Salt also aids digestion, and helps to retain water.

–  Alkalis help digestion and regulate gastric fire.

–  Ghee stimulates agni and improves digestion.

–  Small sips of warm water during a meal will aid digestion and absorption of food. Do not drink iced water as it slows agni and digestion. Indeed ice water should not be taken under most circumstances, as it is too shocking to the system.

–  Proper chewing   is essential to   good digestion, ensuring food gets thoroughly mixed with saliva.

–  A cup of  lassi at the end of a meal also aids the digestive process. Make by blending ¼ cup yogurt with 2 pinches of ginger & cumin powder in 1 cup water.

–  Ideally, one should fill the stomach with one-third food, one-third   liquid and one-third   should be empty.

  • Robert Chuckrow,The Intelligent Dieter’s Guide, Rising Mist Publications, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1997.
  • Combining Foods for Optimal Digestion, 1997 by Robert Chuckrow
  • Herbert Shelton,Food Combining Made Easy, Willow Publishing, Inc., San Antonio, TX, 1994.
  • “Food Combining Made Easy” and “SuperiorNutrition” by Herbert Shelton D.P., N.D., D.N.T, D.N.Sc.
  • The Canadian Natural Health Association Founded on Natural Hygiene, Toronto Chapter, The Wolfe Clinic Practitioners and Knowledgeable Product Specialists,  
  • “Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing” by Usha & Dr. Vasant, Lad, 1997. The Ayurvedic Institute

One Response to “Food Combining Rules for Healthy Digestion‎”

  1. Irmina Santaika July 25, 2014 at 13:45 Permalink


    Melons should not be combined with any other foods.
    // Breakfast is the best time to eat fruit. At that time only fruit should be eaten.
    // The exception are sour fruit which go well with proteins.
    // Fruit can be cooked.
    // Observe how your body reacts to raw/cooked food combinations.
    // After eating fruit wait one to two hours for digestion before your next meal.
    / All combinations of carbohydrates and proteins are difficult to digest.
    // Read ingredient lists on foods, especially if they are not organic. The longer the list the further you should stay away from it!
    // Sour fruits combine well with proteins.
    // Tomatoes combine well with proteins or vegetables with little or no proteins/carbohydrates.
    // Do not add any fats/oils to proteins; fats/oils are o.k. when naturally occuring (in cheeses, nuts, etc.)

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