By Dr. Mercola
Dr. Wayne Pickering, also known as the "Mango Man," is a naturopathic physician on the East Coast of Florida and was a good friend of fitness legend Jack Lalanne. In his late 60s, he swims several miles a week in addition to extensive biking and performing a wide variety of calisthenics, pushups, and pull-ups.
While he is undoubtedly an inspiration in the field of fitness, one of the things he's known for in the nutrition world is food combining. Improper food combining is one of the primary factors that cause gas, flatulence, heartburn, and upset stomach.
What's worse, poor digestion can also contribute to malnutrition, even if you think you're eating a decent diet. If you want to learn more, check out the second video above.
It's my interview with Dr. Pickering, where we discussed the principles of food combining and other aspects of healthy eating that you might not think much about (like eating seasonally).
I'll discuss a bit more about the "three commandments of food combination" shortly, but first a recipe. Since our interview, many people have inquired about a selection of recipes to put the principles of food combination into action. Once you learn the basics, it's not as difficult or time consuming as you might think.
But it doesn't hurt to have a few good recipes to fall back on. The one that follows is Dr. Pickering's Avocado Supreme Salad Recipe. It's packed with fresh ingredients and vivid flavors, and everything it contains is healthy to eat together, at the same meal. To see how it's made, view the first video above.
Mango Man's Avocado Supreme Salad Recipe
Avocado Supreme Salad
- 10 sprigs of parsley, finely cut
- 1 non-waxed, pickling cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 zucchini squash, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
- 2 celery stalks (including leaves), thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 ripe avocado, flesh removed and diced into small cubes
- ½ half fresh lime
- 2 ounces freshly ground almonds
- In a large mixing bowl, toss all the salad ingredients (not including the ground almonds) thoroughly.
- Pour the ground almonds through a sieve (strainer) over the salad and enjoy incredible health, increased energy, and a youthful and slim body with this nutritious recipe
Three Primary Principles of Food Combining
There are three primary categories of food: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Each has different requirements for digestion, which is why it's important to know how to combine them properly in your meals. Proteins begin their digestion chemically in your stomach.
Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: fruits and starches. While fruits pass through your digestive system with relative ease, starches require three levels of breakdown; the very first stage is in your mouth, which is why it's crucial to carefully chew starchy foods.
Further, you do not want to mix proteins and starches in the same meal. So no bun with your hamburger, no meatballs if you have pasta, or no potatoes with your meat… Dr. Pickering explains:
"Starches require an alkaline digestive medium to digest. If you put your fist in your stomach while it's digesting steaks and all that, chances are, you wouldn't have a hand anymore. The acid is intense...
When you mix them both together – an acid-type of food and an alkaline – basic chemistry shows that they don't digest. They neutralize. Then what happens? If the food is not digesting... it's going through your body [undigested], throwing it into all kinds of turmoil."
To keep food combining simple, Dr. Pickering lays out three basic commandments of eating that he recommends you not deviate from:
- No proteins and starches at the same meal, as they neutralize each other and prevent proper digestion of either food. To ensure proper digestion of each food, wait two hours after eating a starch before eating protein. And wait three hours after eating protein before eating a starch.
- No fruits and vegetables at the same meal. Fruits are either a single or double sugar, whereas the starches are a triple sugar. Fruits mechanically break down in your stomach, but chemically they don't break down until they reach the third and fourth stage of your digestive system, which are in your small intestine.
Starches, again, are broken down in three different stages, starting in your mouth.
According to Dr. Pickering, this is also why it's crucial to not eat dessert after a meal. When you do, it gets trapped in your stomach with all that other food where it starts to rot, as it's not being chemically digested there. Therefore, eat fruit 30 to 60 minutes before dinner.
The same applies if you want to eat another piece of fruit. Acidic fruits, such as lemons for example, also do not combine well with starches. Lemon and banana is but one example of a combination that is sure to lead to gastrointestinal upset...
Many people consider tomatoes a fruit, yet it's commonly added to salad. Dr. Pickering classifies tomatoes as a "fruit-vegetable," because even though they don't have the sugar like most fruits, they're still an acidic fruit-vegetable. As such they're okay to combine with other vegetables, including in the Avocado Supreme Salad recipe above.
- "Eat melon alone, or leave it alone, or your stomach will moan." In short, melons do not digest well with other foods and will frequently cause problems unless consumed alone, without other foods.
Why Is Avocado Supreme Salad an Ideal Meal?
Avocado Supreme Salad is a healthy meal choice not only because it follows the proper "rules" of food combining. The recipe's namesake, avocado, is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Personally, I eat one almost every day. Avocados are rich sources of monounsaturated fat that your body can easily burn for energy. Because they are so rich in healthy fats, avocados help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods, making them an ideal addition to a vegetable salad.
Avocados are also rich in cancer-fighting carotenoids, which are most plentiful in the dark-green portion of the flesh that's closest to the skin (to be sure to scrape the dark-green portion off the skin when you remove the peel). In the realm of more conventional nutrients, avocados don't disappoint. They're rich in:
- Potassium: About 2.5 avocados provide the daily recommended amount of about 4,700 milligrams (mg) of the mineral potassium a day. It plays an important role in heart function, skeletal health, digestion, and muscular function, and is essential for the proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs in your body.1
- Vitamins C and E: Vitamins C and E are important antioxidants on their own… but put them together, the way they are in avocado, and the real magic happens. As reported in Critical Reviews in Food, Science, and Nutrition:2
"Avocados are one of the few foods that contain significant levels of both vitamins C and E. Vitamin C plays an important role in recycling vitamin E to maintain circulatory antioxidant protection…"
One study also found that a combination of vitamin C and E helped to slow plaque build-up, which could help prevent a heart attack or stroke.3
- Magnesium: An average avocado contains about 40 mg of magnesium, which is about 10 percent of the recommended daily value. Magnesium is a mineral used by every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys. By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient.
- Fiber: Avocados are surprisingly high in fiber, with about 4.6 grams in half an avocado. Fiber plays an essential role in your digestive, heart, and skin health, and may improve blood sugar control, weight management, and more.
Easily Increase Your Veggie Intake with the Avocado Supreme Salad
Nearly 23 percent of Americans report consuming vegetables and fruits less than one time daily, with a median vegetable intake of only 1.6 times per day overall.4 Yet, virtually all of us need to eat large amounts of fresh, high-quality vegetables every day to achieve high-level health. Most vegetables are not very calorie dense and as a result they typically should constitute the bulk of your diet by volume.
This is part of what makes the Avocado Supreme Salad such a great recipe – it's virtually all vegetables, with a bit of added almonds for more healthy fats, protein, and flavor. If you eat this salad regularly, you'll easily increase your vegetable intake. Some of the highlights include:
- Cucumber: Cucumbers are rich in vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), fisetin, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, manganese, silica, and fiber and can help your body eliminate toxins. Recent studies show cucumbers also contain powerful lignans that bind with estrogen-related bacteria in your digestive tract to potentially reduce your risk of several cancers, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate.
- Tomato: Tomatoes are an excellent source of lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C (which is most concentrated in the jelly-like substance that surrounds the seeds), as well as vitamins A, E, and the B vitamins, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.
- Celery: Celery is a rich source of luteolin, a plant compound that may calm inflammation in your brain, which is a primary cause of neurodegeneration. Luteolin has also been linked with lower rates of age-related memory loss in mice.5
- Parsley: Parsley contains a unique combination of volatile oil compounds, including myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. It's also rich in flavonoids such as apiin, apigenin, chrysoeriol, and luteolin. Both the volatile oils and flavonoids in parsley contribute numerous health benefits.
If you want more information about which foods are best for optimal health, and how to best combine them for healthy digestion and more, visit MangoManDiet.com. The site offers a 27-day course on food combining, as well as 400 recipes, nearly 140 articles, and several hours' worth of audio programs on nutrition.