Re: Vegan Diet (was Re: Practical Extropianism)
Thu, 8 May 1997 23:32:48 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 5/8/97 1:10:14 PM, wrote:

>In a message dated 97-05-08 13:24:02 EDT, you write:
> >You should check up on that. I've yet to see any scientific references on
> >food combining.
>I did, in an excellent book called Fit for Life, written by a
I know this will probably provoke a flameway, but FFL is a joke. The writers
don't even have the understanding necessary to pass a one-year college bio
class (quite literally, example below).

>>>You know what the worst food combination is? Meat and potatoes. The
>>>chemicals in each cancel out the digestive chemicals in your stomach,
>>>becoming undigestibabl and rotting in your stomach and intestines for a
>>>like it was sitting in the hot sun.
>>This is horsehockey. The digestive chemicals in your stomach are
>>hydrochloric and butyric acid. Neither meat nor potatoes (nor any other
>>you'd eat) will cancel that.
>Fit For Life explains how that process works, it has to do with acids and
>bases I believe. All foods require a certain counterpart chemical in our
>bodies to complete the digestion, and some chemicals can cancel each other

Yes indeedy they "explain" it. One needs acid, the other base, when the two
are produced together in the digestive tract, they cancel and neither works.

The problem with this "explaination" is that not one, but *both* of the
primary premises are wrong. *Both* starch and protein require *both* acid
and base for normal digestion, but the acids and the bases are produced in
different places and do not interfere with each other. To be technical,
digestion is primarily performed by *neither* acid nor bases, but by neutral

Briefly, food is eaten, gets churned in the strongly acidic stomach for a few
hours, is passed into the duodenum where the acids are neutralized, and then
is passed to the slightly basic small intestines where digestive enzymes
(amylase for starch, protease for protein) do their work. Whether you eat
starch, protein, or a mixture thereof, you get the same process. The stomach
is always acid and the intestines always basic. This whole shebang is in any
introductory biology course or text.

Incidentally, the intestines are very mildly basic and the base there
wouldn't digest anything. Some people take drugs to suppress stomach acid
production and digestion works just fine for them. In other words, when the
body produces neither digestive acids nor digestive bases, food gets digested
anyway. However, if you block the digestive enzymes (e.g. starch blockers)
food doesn't get digested.

In spite of the terror the food combining folks display towards undigested
food, it doesn't have many really bad effects. Fiber is undigested food and
the effects of eating lots of food you can't digest is just the same as that
of eating too much fiber (beans, say) - gas, bloating, and sometimes mild
diarrhea. You don't need to go to the hospital, just to the bathroom and
your underwear drawer.

You would think that people writing books on nutrition would know that the
stomach and the intestines are separate organs, that one is always acidic and
the other always basic. You'd think that people writing books on nutrition
would now what happens to food not fully digested. But you'd be wrong.

>>It's a pity, really. Calorie restriction is a great way to extend
>> If all I had to do was to eat meat and potatoes together and nothing would
>>get digested, I'd be set.
>Actually, doing that would probably result in a hospital visit. That
>combination releases tons of waste and harmful byproducts.

Don't be silly. People eat meat and potatoes all the time and the only time
it makes them go to the hospital is if the meat is already spoiled.