When my husband, Ralph, was diagnosed with cancer it seemed to be the cruellest blow life could assign. He underwent two major operations, one for the complete removal of his stomach and a second which divorced him from his spleen. Kept alive by a dr
Sympathy and kindness were shown to us in abundance, but there was a dearth of practical help. What happens to food if the stomach has been taken away? And how could Ralph be properly nourished by what was turning out to be a very limited diet?
It was during this burning of much midnight oil that I came across a 1935 edition of a book called Health Via Food by Dr William Howard Hay, my first introduction to food combining. This was a find which brought further amazing improvements. Little by little, Ralph gained strength. The ashen face and sallow skin were replaced by a healthy glow. And apart from limited mobility caused by the extensive surgery and resultant scar tissue, Ralph continues to be well (and no longer diabetic) .
In Dr Hay's case, already seriously overweight and in failing health, he had been told by his physicians that his chances of recovery were limited. At the relatively tender age of 40, he was suffering from Bright's disease (a serious kidney condition), high blood pressure and an enlarged heart; the medical services of the early 1900s could offer him nothing.
Spurred by the work of the early nature cure practitioners, Dr Hay created a fundamentally uncomplicated way of eating which was to prove powerful enough to reduce his weight by 50 lb, to normalize his blood pressure and to eradicate his kidney and heart problems. The subsequent use of similar dietary guidelines with his patients provided proof aplenty that Dr Hay's principles were correct. He was a modest man and never claimed to cure any illness or even to have discovered anything new only that the simple dietary innovation which now bears his name allows nature's own suppressed healing powers to surface.
Dr Hay believed that disease resulted from the accumulation of toxicity and acid waste products in the body and that this chemical imbalance was caused by four main factors:
Eating too many acid forming proteins, starches and refined foods.
Poor elimination of wastes and toxins.
Eating too few of the beneficially alkaline forming vegetables and fruits.
Incompatible mixing of certain foods, in particular starches, or sugars with proteins or acid fruits.
It is a common misconception that digestion of all foods takes place in the stomach. In fact, starch (carbohydrate) breakdown begins in the mouth, initiated by a starch splitting enzyme called ptyalin found in the alkaline juices of the saliva a process which, if given the right circumstances, continues once those carbohydrates reach the stomach chamber.
Proteins move more slowly through the system. Nothing much happens until the stomach acids are stimulated into action. Note the word "acids". Our starch, you will remember, needs an alkaline medium during the first stages of its journey.
Mix starches with proteins at the same meal and the digestive system won't know if it is functioning on acid foot or alkaline horseback.
All these evils, Dr Hay proved, could be remedied by only a few elementary changes to daily routine.
Don't mix starch foods or sugars with proteins.
Increase your intake of fresh vegetables, salads and fruit.
Keep all fruits away from main meals.
Don't mix milk with protein or starch.
Avoid processed, refined foods.
When planning your menus, you can maintain your daily balance by having:
One completely alkaline forming meal
One starch based meal
One protein based meal
In my work as a nutritionist I have seen many, many patients with a wide variety of problems. Crohn's disease, heart disease, Raynaud's disease, colitis, indigestion, migraine, pre menstrual syndrome the very great majority have responded to simple, sensible changes to diet.
Kathryn Marsden is a practising nutritiona who writes regularly on nutritional matters. This article is excerpted from her book, The Food Combining Diet, to be published by Thorsens in December.