Personal Training Cheltenham

What! you may say, well good digestion means that, and good digestion also means that the quality organic food is not being wasted.

Studies have shown that most of the carbohydrates that we eat are not being properly digested.


What can we do? I have been looking into food combinations with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurverdic – traditional Indian, both have been around for thousands of years. These two have some interesting connections to nineteenth and twentieth century scientific studies about saliva, gastric juice and enzymes. Ivan Pavlov The Work of the Digestive Glands 1897, 1904 Nobel Prize: Physiology and Medicine.

The common theme is combinations of foods. for example TCM looks at five flavours, sour, bitter, sweet, salt, spicy. A dish complete with these elements in their correct quantities. Don’t overdose, if you do this is considered to unbalance the constitution of the person.

For example if you are a hot person, adding too much spicy will compound your condition. If you are a cold person adding too many bitter green leaves to your dish will leave you feeling cooler.

Ayurvedic constitutions work on similar lines but are often very close to Pavlov’s findings.

You may have heard of ‘food combining’ and yes it sounds like another crazy diet but it has been around for years. I have been doing some personal experiments. The premise then is allowing the different fluids of the digestive system time to start the assimilation of nutrients to transfer to our blood; therefore keeping us healthy. Let’s not forget the strength or weakness of our immune system is due to our gut flora.

It is important to remember as we eat and drink: we are eating to ingest nutrients and strengthen our immune system.

Stage one starts in the mouth chewing our food long enough to cover it in saliva before swallowing.
Then the food arrives at the stomach and depending what it is, animal protein for example requires acidic juices to start breaking down the molecules. Proteins are mostly digested here.

Fruit is more alkaline and is mostly broken down in the small intestine. Other foods and drinks are assimilated in the final section the large intestine. If we add a drink to our meal we are negatively diluting the process.

Let’s keep this simple, what foods and drinks go together?
Drink ten minutes before a meal not with food, if your food is too dry add a salad.

Don’t mix animal proteins with carbs – in nature the sandwich doesn’t exist. OMG! Yeah sorry – why? the bread interrupts the digestive juices working on the meat or cheese and same with potatoes and fish.

Question do you burp, fart or feel bloated after a burger, sandwich or roast dinner?

The reason is food hasn’t been processed by the gastric juices, so it starts to ferment. The fermentation is the cause of the gas. For this reason, sugary foods should be eaten separately from other foods. 
Last night we did an experiment. Classic fish and chips – so potatoes and flour batter are our starchy carbs, two carbohydrates – potatoes and batter! And the fish is the animal protein. Plus, a beer to wash it down.
It was delicious – but I started to feel bloated towards the end of the meal. By the time we were walking through the carpark I was ready to join a brass band. So the combination caused poor digestive break-down and fermentation causing gas. That also means that the money spent on that meal was a waste as most of the nutrients were not taken in to blood.

Giving your digestive system a weekly rest and fast over night until lunch the next day – this will help digestive enzymes time to recover!

If you are a sportsman or just trying to get into good shape this is tragic news. In fact, the timing of food ingested by serious athletes is vital for performance. To be honest we should all be treating ourselves like the elite to get the best nutrition for health and as a consequence we can get more from our lives.

Here is a sample of foods that we can combine also added some of the ancient traditional food medicines influence.

Hot person or Summer Cold person or winter
Breakfast large fruit salad. lot’s of liquid is in the fruit so no need to add.
Keep bananas as a snack for later in the day as these are a starchy fruit also cooling
Drink ten mins before our porridge oats

Adding seeds is good but not sweet, that would start fermentation.


Toast with a little oil or butter but no jam again sugar jams cause fermentation and also sugar feeds bad gut flora too

Lunch – salad, leafy greens, peppers, carrots – only egg, tuna or cheese if this is your main dish and make it big.


Grains: rice or quinoa or homemade bread or millet or cuscus. Plus veg, broccoli, runner beans, seasonal veg also the cheapest in the supermarket as it’s in abundance.

Winter lunch slow cooked warming food like Lamb with lots of veg such as beetroot, parsnip, some tomatoes are cooling to balance.


Beans – kidney (not Heinz sugar beans) mix well with veg. Don’t add animal or rice to this meal.

Dinner – Steamed veg, all types some sweet potatoes or

Fish and Veg is a good combination but skip the potatoes.


If you add a handful of nuts you might want to have these as a small starter as they are a mix of protein, fats.

Dinner – potatoes and veg add herbs to give flavour or vegan pesto no cheese.  It is a filling meal you don’t need the meat, if you do you are wasting the food as it won’t digest properly and your bed partner will reek the benefits
Snack foods, bananas or melon or berries Nuts warming or yogurt cooling

In our quest to be healthier humans, we are buying organic but we are mostly losing out on some of those nutrients if we are combining poorly. If you experience gas, or unpleasant visits to the toilet then have a think about what food combination you have eaten rather than blaming the food itself, ‘curry doesn’t sit well with me’ that would be because of the meat mixed with the rice. Next time keep it simple have a veg curry and rice or have meat and veg without the rice or the naan.

You will need supportive friends and family if you are going to try this, I suggest starting at home with food that you like and see how you feel and how your body reacts. There are many books on food combining some more complex than others but I recommend doing some reading or looking for charts that will help – coming soon the perfect poo!

Thanks for reading 

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Written by

caspar chamberlain

Personal Trainer and Nutrition Advisor