I’m sure all of us have sat down to a typical holiday meal. A table full of various breads, meats, cheeses, veggies, and some sort of alcohol. We eat a little (or a lot) bit of everything. You swear you couldn’t eat another morsel. Then dessert arrives: Pie, or cake, or cookies, often with ice cream, then more alcohol or coffee. You then enter what I call a food coma, often with bloating or gas setting in. All you want to do is to lie down and take a nap. Dr. Junger calls this a food bomb. A food bomb results from mixing too many different types of foods together in one meal. Each type of food requires different types of enzymes in order to be digested, so by mixing too many together at once causes poor digestion and creates fatigue. You may not eat a holiday meal very often, but many folks go through some version of this every day. Fruit takes the shortest time to digest and leaves the stomach within 30 minutes. When you mix fruit with proteins or starches, the digestion of fruit is delayed and it starts to ferment in the intestines. When fermentation happens in the gut, it reduces the assimilation of other nutrients at a meal and creates an environment that feeds yeast and fungus. I always used to mix my yogurt with berries and granola, thinking I was doing a good thing. Little did I know. Not anymore. I eat my fruit by itself. The same fermentation can occur when mixing animal protein with starches or grains (sandwiches anyone?). Meat, fish, and eggs require the secretion of hydrochloric acid and the enzyme pepsin, and they break down the food in an acidic environment. Starches require the secretion of the enzyme ptyalin in an alkaline environment. I rarely eat sandwiches. the last time I had one I noticed bloating and fatigue within 15 minutes of eating it. Mixing proteins and starches at the same time can negate proper absorption. The result? Fermentation in the gut. I got tired of feeling tired or bloated after meals, so I changed the way I ate. I felt better, bowel movements were better, and I actually look forward to eating this way now. Following are three rules recommended by Dr. Junger in his book “Clean Gut” to avoid fermentation and improved nutrient absorption. 1). Eat nonstarchy vegetables and leafy greens with animal proteins. 2). Avoid eating animal protein with grains, rice, or legumes. 3). Eat fruit alone. When your digestive system runs smoothly, you’ll feel great and have a balanced energy level. I also quit eating when I am ~80% full. I try to adhere to this type of eating as much as possible. When I don’t, I can feel the effects, such as gas, bloating, tiredness, and bowel irregularities. Give it a try.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.