Conscious eating is back in fashion. And with that, alternative forms of nutrition such as food combining or Ayurveda are coming back into focus – but are they really healthier?
The food combining goes back to the American doctor William Hay. He assumed that improper diet disturbs the balance between acids and bases in the body and that carbohydrate and protein foods cannot be digested at the same time. Therefore, according to Hay, foods rich in carbohydrates and foods rich in protein are separated from each other in meals. In addition, alkaline-forming foods such as vegetables, fruit and milk should make up around 80 percent of the meals consumed, acid-forming foods such as cereals, meat, sugar, cheese and citrus fruits only 20 percent. Snacks are forbidden in food combining.
Hay’s theories have now been scientifically refuted. The human digestive tract is perfectly capable of digesting proteins and carbohydrates at the same time. Various buffer systems in the body balance the acid-base balance. In the opinion of nutritionists, too few grain and milk products are consumed in Hay’s strict food combining regimen. This can lead to deficits in micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron and iodine. A positive aspect is that the focus of food selection is on fresh, natural foods with a high proportion of plant-based products. It is also beneficial that flour and sugary foods are largely avoided.
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The term Ayurveda is understood to mean an almost 5000-year-old medicine that comes from India. Rules are also set to keep the body healthy. In Ayurveda it is assumed that every person has an individual constitutional type, which is characterized by different proportions of the three doshas (life energies). The Doshas should be kept in balance through diet and lifestyle. Those who follow an Ayurvedic diet choose foods that correspond to their constitutional type. In practice, the Ayurvedic diet focuses on plant-based foods, which should be as fresh and natural as possible. Milk and butter can also be consumed. Heavily processed foods are rejected. Meat, sweets and heavy food should only be eaten in small quantities.
The theory on which the Ayurvedic diet is based cannot be proven by the standards of western science. However, since in practice a diet results that essentially corresponds to the nutritional recommendations, Ayurvedic food can be consumed permanently.
Nutrition in Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has been practiced for around 3000 years, food is also selected individually. It is important that the food promotes the balance between “Yin” and “Yang”. These terms are used to describe various opposing principles whose balance is critical to human health and well-being. When it comes to nutrition, foods should be selected in such a way that they bring the individual constitution back into balance. In addition, the five elements are also taken into account, to which the food is assigned with its various thermal effects (hot, warm, neutral, refreshing, cold). This leads to the diet focusing on cooked whole grains and steamed vegetables, both of which are eaten warm. Raw vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products as well as cold food should only be eaten in small amounts.
The large proportion of plant-based foods is advantageous. However, the fact that foods are preferably consumed cooked can mean that certain vitamins are destroyed by the heat. The classification of food into certain categories is scientifically incomprehensible. According to nutrition experts, a traditional Chinese medicine diet should be supplemented with raw food snacks.
Macrobiotics was founded by the Japanese Ohsawa in the 20th century. The principles were later modified by his compatriot Kushi and the American Acuff. As in traditional Chinese medicine, the terms yin and yang also play a fundamental role in macrobiotics. In macrobiotics, individual foods are attributed specific effects on the two opposites. For example, hot spices are classified as “extremely yin” quality, while fish is classified as “balanced yang”. In its original form, macrobiotics are a strictly vegan diet, in which mainly whole grains and vegetables are consumed. Animal foods are not eaten except for fish, fruit only occasionally. The Acuff modification adds eggs and fatty fish. Dairy products are almost never consumed in either form.
Nutrition experts complain that the strict form of macrobiotics contains too little calcium , vitamin D and vitamin B12 . The fat and protein content of the food is also very low. A Dutch study of children fed a strict macrobiotic diet showed growth retardation and emaciation. The strict macrobiotic diet is not suitable, at least for children. If the variant of macrobiotics according to Acuff is chosen, an adequate supply of nutrients can be achieved with a suitable choice of food. However, children should be fed dairy products daily and the diet should be high enough in fat to provide enough energy for growth.
Also Read: Diet According To Nutritional Requirements