In the early seventies, I directed a biological clinic in Guadalajara, Mexico. While successfully applying such biological modalities as juice fasting, hydrotherapies, volcanic sauna, special diets, herbal packs, and megavitamins for a variety of our most common ailments, one condition which afflicted almost every guest at the spa baffled all my attempts to solve it - gas! Everyone was in constant distress, blown up like balloons, and besieging me for relief.
We enjoyed a most delectable cuisine at the spa, featuring our own organically grown vegetables and fruits, served smorgasbord style. At lunch and dinner, guests were offered dozens of mouth-watering raw salads, and they took one helping after another of this great variety of delicious food. Then, one or two main courses, prepared by our own gourmet Mexican cooks, were served - usually beans and tortillas, bean soup, cheese, omelettes, etc. And, the same daily routine in front of my office: long lines of distressed patients seeking relief from the same problem - gas!
The situation was so out of control (after I had tried everything, including placebos, without success) that I decided to make an in-depth study of the problem. Neither my naturopathic and nutrition background and experience, nor existing reference works, were of much help. I knew that we must have been doing something wrong, but what?. . .
With the zeal of an inventor, true scientific curiosity, and my Scandinavian persistency and determination, I finally found the solution to the problem.
We eat a large raw vegetable salad before the main protein course. This is singularly the most culpable factor responsible for the indigestion and gas many of us suffer!
Here's how and why it works:
Proteins require a generous amount of hydrochloric acid in your stomach for proper digestion. When you eat carbohydrate-rich foods, such as vegetables, your stomach does not secrete much hydrochloric acid, because it is not needed for the digestion of carbohydrates. If you fill your stomach first with predominantly carbohydrate foods and then finish your meal with a protein food, the protein will remain largely or partially undigested because of an insufficient amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Therefore, it is best to eat protein foods first, on an empty stomach, when the hydrochloric acid secretion will be generous; then continue with carbohydrate foods, which do not need gastric juices, and are largely digested by the saliva enzymes in your mouth, or in the intestines. In practical terms, that would mean, steak first - and then salad! Or, beans and tortillas first - and then salad. Or, if you prefer, eat your salad with protein food, but never before.
One thing that facilitated this discovery was my world-wide studies of the eating habits of natives known for their excellent health. I have found, among other things, that nowhere else in the world is salad eaten as the first course in the meal. If protein is eaten at a meal - whether meat, fish, or beans - it is always eaten before or with salads, but never after.
In addition to this "salad-before-meat" mistake, we commit five other disastrous errors in our eating habits, which are all contributing to our national epidemic of indigestion and gas: 2
Let's analyze these mistakes one at a time:
These are the only three food mixing rules you need to know - rules that can be scientifically justified. Here are the scientific reasons for these rules:
Every time I write about the incompatibility of fruits and vegetables, well-meaning, but bookish and picky readers will write and "inform" me of the botanical fact that tomatoes and avocados (which I recommend eating with a vegetable meal) are not vegetables, and that peanuts are not nuts (in addition to those who tell me that "honey is for the bees", "seeds for the birds", "milk for the calves", and "garlic and onions are poisonous").
Please understand that when I differentiate between fruits and vegetables, I do so from a nutritional standpoint, not botanical; Nutritionally speaking, there are three distinct groups: fruits, vegetables, and melons. Tomatoes and avocados, although botanically fruits, are best eaten with vegetables. Papayas, limes, and lemons can be eaten with both fruit and vegetables meals (lime and lemon in a salad dressing). Melons - watermelon, cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew - should not be mixed with other fruit or vegetable meals, but eaten separately either as a complete meal or as a snack between meals.
Now, these three food mixing rules are about all you need to know. Do not be confused by confused writers who tell you never to mix carbohydrates with proteins, carbohydrates with fats, fats with proteins, proteins with starches, proteins with sugars, sugars with fats, etc., etc. The truth is, there is no such thing as a pure, natural protein food which, contains no carbohydrates or fat. Neither can you find a natural carbohydrate food without some protein in it.
Through millions of years of adaptation and genetic programming, your body functions best if it follows certain cycles, metabolically and physiologically speaking. During the night, from about 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., your digestive, assimilative, and restorative systems are busy at work, while your eliminative system is at rest. The morning hours, from about 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., constitute a period of elimination and cleansing, when the bloodstream is heavily charged with the waste products of metabolism and rebuilding carried out during the night, and the eliminative organs are cleansing the system of impurities and toxins - through the skin, lungs, kidneys, and alimentary canal. "Morning breath" is just one indicator of such a cleansing process.
To eat a large, rich breakfast right after you've gotten out of bed and when you are really are not hungry, is to do yourself a great disservice. This routine is a sure road to digestive disturbances, impaired health, and an early grave. Morning time is best for herb teas, fruit juices, and fresh, juicy fruits or berries, which will assist in elimination and supply readily-available sugar for muscle and brain function without overloading the digestive and eliminative organs.
"But, I don't feel hungry in the morning!"
"Don't wait until you get hungry. Eat a large breakfast of steak, eggs, and milk, and you won't get hungry during your working hours."
"Breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dine like a pauper" is a false slogan contrived by our misled, confused, and mentally constipated nutritionists in their air-conditioned offices - nutritionists who never had to do morning chores on a farm, or had the pleasure of eating a breakfast after a 2 or 3-hour brisk morning jog in the woods. Our bodies are genetically programmed to function best if we "breakfast like a pauper (and work like a pauper before your breakfast, too!) lunch like king, and dine like a queen!" To achieve optimum health, good digestion and assimilation of foods, and good elimination and cleansing of body toxins, we must work with nature's timetable - not against it. We would do well to listen to Paul Bragg's advice, and "earn" our breakfast before we eat it.
Also, food should be eaten in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoyed. Biologically, only the foods eaten with genuine pleasure will do you any good. A peaceful, unhurried, and happy atmosphere around the table will pay good dividends in improved digestion and assimilation of food.
Overeating not only causes indigestion and gas, but is one of the main causes of most so-called diseases of civilization, or the degenerative diseases: arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company statistics show that the prevalence of these diseases among overweight people is almost double in comparison to those of normal weight. Studies show that animals allowed to eat as much as they wished had 5.3 times more spontaneous cancer tumors than those animals who were fed only every second day. 5 7 The hunger years during and immediately after both World Wars resulted in a virtual disappearance of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as most other diseases of civilization. Even the National Cancer Institute acknowledges the relationship between overeating and cancer in their official publication, The Challenge of Cancer: "There is statistical evidence from various insurance companies that overweight persons have a distinctly greater tendency for developing cancer." Overeating is especially dangerous for older people who are less active, have a slowed down metabolism, and whose digestive enzyme production is not as generous as during their younger years.
Refined carbohydrates, such as white sugar, white flour, and everything made with them, are often implicated in digestive disorders. 8 They should be completely eliminated, particularly from the diets of older people. Cakes, pies, ice cream, and other concentrated refined carbohydrate foods are usually swallowed fast without thorough chewing and can cause considerable digestive problems in the form of flatulence, constipation, and gas.
The undeniable physiological fact is that the less you eat, the less digestive problems you will have, and the better nourished you become, because food will be more effectively digested and assimilated, and better utilized. Remember: You are not what you eat, but what you assimilate.
It is better to eat 4, 5, or 6 small meals a day than 2 or 3 large meals. Such an eating habit, the nibblers diet, would not only eliminate many digestive problems, but would also solve most of the hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar problems. Also, if you have a tendency toward obesity, you should know that while 2,000 calories eaten at two meals may result in new fat accumulation, the same 2,000 calories eaten in 6 small meals with 2 or 3 hours interval, will not only fail to add weight, but may actually help you to reduce!
NEXT MONTH: PART II of this article that will discuss gallbladder malfunction, allergies, hypoacidity, and other specific causes connected with indigestion and gas and offer simple commonsense solutions to these problems. NOTE: All reference notes for the complete article will appear at the end of the Part II next month.
Prev Next Index