“Food synergy” is a term that the nutrition industry is starting to use more and more. Never heard of it before? Let me fill you in…
Ever noticed how certain foods just go so well together? Why is that? There is evidence to suggest that some foods that taste great together may also share other connections and can interact with one another in nutritionally positive ways. According to epidemiologist David R. Jacobs, the notion that certain food combos can deliver more benefits than either one would on its own is called ‘food synergy’. He believes this is why we inherently crave certain foods together, and how they jointly nourish our bodies.
An example of the food synergy phenomenon is highlighted in a 2015 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Research suggested that salads were more nutritionally potent if you added eggs to them. The reasoning for this revolves around the idea that eggs make it easier for your body to absorb anti-aging phytonutrients called carotenoids, helping you to fight weight gain, boost your immunity and protect your skin.
Perhaps the greatest proponent of ‘food combining’ is Dr. Wayne Pickering. He believes that if your food is not properly combined, it will fail to digest correctly, causing heartburn, acid reflux, painful gas and other stomach problems. Dr. Pickering has discussed particular ‘rules’ to food combination, specifically that you don’t want to mix starches and proteins in the same meal:
“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.”
Now, I want to examine five healthy food combinations that are excellent tools for youth preservation, as well as useful ways to keep your body working properly.
Tomatoes and Olive Oil
You may have heard the ancient saying “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” but feel free to ignore that advice if they present you with tomatoes and olive oil! – Greeks eat more of these two ingredients per capita than anyone else, and there’s an important, youth preserving reason for this. I’ve previously examined some of the benefits of olive oil, so let’s take a quick look at tomatoes.
Tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene, which has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. When you combine fat-soluble lycopene with a healthy, monounsaturated fat like olive oil, you’re helping to increase the absorption of lycopene and other free radical fighting antioxidants.
Almonds and Yogurt
As well as good fats helping to increase lycopene absorption, many essential vitamins are absorbed best when eaten with fat. Vegetables like broccoli, peas and carrots are packed full of fat-soluble vitamin A and should be paired with a heart-healthy fat like olive oil. Vitamin D-rich yogurt is an excellent partner with the unsaturated fats found in almonds, helping to lower cholesterol levels.
Additionally, almonds are rich in skin friendly vitamin E, while protein-packed probiotic yogurt can aid digestion, as well as suppress the release of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Green Tea and Lemon
Say it loud and say it proud – green tea is an absolute food miracle! It’s the healthiest beverage on the planet, packed full of antioxidants to improve brain function, encourage fat loss, lower the risk of cancer and so much more. In the world of youth preservation, this humble drink is a total heavyweight champ!
But what if there was a way to make it even healthier? I’ve talked about the health benefits of lemon waterbefore, and when you add lemon to green tea, you’re turbocharging the tea’s incredible benefits – allowing your body to absorb six times as many antioxidants. Wow!
Warning – Say No to Green Tea and Kale!
A study in the American Journal of Pathology points to the idea that sipping green tea with iron-rich foods, such as kale or other leafy greens can inhibit the antioxidant properties of green tea. Who would’ve known?
Fruits and Nuts
Vitamin C is a nutrient that plays well with others! It strongly enhances the absorption of nonheme iron, but it must be taken at the same time as the iron. Vitamin C is also a match with vitamin E – helping to strengthen the capillary walls in your skin and acting as a natural anti-aging nutrient. Taking vitamin E with vitamin C also fights skin inflammation after you’ve been exposed to UV radiation. You can encourage these two wonderful antioxidants to work their magic by tossing organic nuts or seeds in with your fruit salad.
Garlic and Salmon
While it’s true that garlic is a delicious way to enhance the flavor of meals, making your salmon even tastier, together, the two ingredients may also contribute to decreasing your risk of heart disease. The American Journal of Nutrition carried out a study in 1997, testing the effects of garlic and fish oil on men with high cholesterol. This research saw a decrease of total cholesterol levels by 12.2 percent and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels by 9.5 percent, in the groups who consumed 900 milligrams of garlic and 12 grams of fish oil.
So let’s start paying attention to what we are mixing into our foods!