Food Combining Principles and your Antiaging Diet

Food combining is a dietary concept that involves eating proteins, carbohydrates, and fats at different times so that the digestion time for meals is reduced. This diet is also known as the Hay Diet, after it’s inventor Dr. Howard Hay.

History of The Hay Diet and Food Combining

In 1908 Dr Hay sought to relieve his symptoms of Bright’s Disease and a dilated heart through improving digestion time and efficiency with principles called for eating carbohydrates and proteins in separate meals.


He amazed his medical colleagues by having a complete remission of his symptoms, for which there was no known cure at the time. In 1911 Dr. Hay formulated guidelines for food combining, which became known as the Hay Diet.

Dr. Hay had many critics but continued to lecture and write about the merits of this dietary approach until his death. Today millions of people follow these principles, and have also included additional concepts to the diet such as blood and metabolic typing.

Principles of The Diet

At the heart of this concept is digestion time. Your body can digest some inappropriate combinations of foods, but not as fast or efficiently as it normally should. Proper food combining will speed up slow digestion and promote more complete digestion.

There are certain principles that underline this approach to proper eating, which I will go over. These principles for the most part had their origin in the Hay Diet, but are generally common in all diets, which specify which foods to combine for good eating.

These two concepts underlie the reasoning behind the diet:

  • Starch or carbohydrate digestion requires an alkaline environment, and this process starts in the mouth with your saliva, which begins to breakdown the carbohydrate chains in the starchy foods that you eat with the enzyme ptyalin.
  • Protein digestion requires and acidic environment which is provided by hydrochloric acid.

The Hay Diet also described various classes of foods in terms of being acid or alkaline forming in the end result of their digestion. Improperly combining foods will require longer digestion time and accompanying digestive discomfort.

  • Fruits and vegetables are alkaline forming in their final end products, even the acidic tasting citrus fruits like lemons and oranges.
  • Concentrated Proteins such as eggs, cheese, meat, fish, and foul (poultry) are acid forming
  • Concentrated carbohydrates (starches) such as grains, flour based foods, and all foods containing sugar with the exception of fruit.

Dr. Herbert M. Shelton a prominent American health educator and holistic nutrition advocate established nine principles for proper food combining. These principles have been reprinted from his book: “Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review.”

  • Consume acidic and starch based foods at different times
  • Eat protein based foods and carbohydrates at separate times
  • Eat only one type of protein at during a meal
  • Take in protein and acidic food during separate meals
  • Ingest fats and protein foods in separate meals
  • Eat (fruits) and protein separately
  • Eat (fruits) and starches separately
  • Eat melons by themselves, as they don't mix will with other foods
  • Drop the sugary desserts. When you eat them on top of your meals they lie heavy on your stomach, and ferment into alcohols, vinegars and acetic acids.

Food Combining in Practice

It is easy to see that following this dietary concept would be difficult at best due to your lifestyles and circumstances. For this reason some common sense can help out and keep your digestion time reasonable.

The first rule of ANY diet is that it must work for YOU. Also there are “diets” like the Hay Diet which is a specific eating plan or regimen, and “dietary concepts” which can be borrowed and combined from a number of dietary systems to suit your unique needs.

This makes the most sense in our modern world and with our busy lifestyles. The net effect of ANY diet or way of eating should be enhanced health, well-being, and the ability to integrate it into your personal lifestyle. Again, it has to work for you.

Your metabolism and nutritional needs change as you get older. When you are young your could tolerate bad food combinations. When older you have to be more careful about food combinations or suffer the discomfort of digestive problems.

Common Sense Food Combining

My personal views on food combining and eating in general, encompass five concepts that I feel you should adhere to when and where possible. When you can’t, just make the best compromise that you can under the circumstances.

Proper diet and nutrition should include the following concepts:

  • Eating for your metabolic type
  • Eating for your blood type
  • Sensible food combinations
  • Occasional fasting with supportive nutrition
  • Use digestion time as a guide, if you can digest a particular combination of foods rapidly and without discomfort, then you are on the right track

Believe it or not, this is not as hard as it seems, and the key is to integrate these ideas into your general eating patterns so that you will not have to think about them. You will just find yourself doing things this way automatically. Also, use your experience as a guide.

OK, let me wrap this up by giving you my perspective on how you might go about your own version of food combining. Please remember that this is just my suggested approach. You can use this as a guide or if you choose, you can follow the Hay Diet or another similar approach in a strict fashion. Remember, you need to make it work for YOU.

My suggested rules for common sense eating:

  • Use digestion time and ease of digestion as an indicator of proper eating
  • Do not eat fruit with meals containing concentrated carbs and or proteins
  • Do not eat grains, potatoes, and other concentrated carbs with meats
  • Do not eat high glycemic carbs with fats
  • When eating vegetables and proteins, eat protein first (ex: steak, then salad)
  • DO NOT eat sugary deserts with meals, if you must eat such foods, do so immediately following a hard workout (providing you are not trying to lose weight)
  • Do not eat large meals in any combination unless coming off of a fast

This page is not an in depth explanation of food combining and the Hay Diet. If you want more information about the specifics of the diet, please refer to the books and other sources that go into detail about the theory and application of this concept.

At the very least, taking a common sense approach to the way that you eat will reward you in the short run by reducing digestion time and discomfort. Use the principles of food combining in the way that works best for you, and your stomach will thank you for it!

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