Does eating fruit or vegetables give you indigestion? Or maybe you’re tired of spending money on Rolaids or Prilosec. The bottom line is that more than half of Americans suffer from some kind of digestive issue and are not getting the full benefits from the foods they eat. One simple solution that has worked for millions is sequential eating.
Sequential eating is the brainchild of Dr. Stanley Bass, a physician who began his medical practice in the 1950’s specializing in orthopathic and natural hygiene medicine, and physiology. Dr. Bass believed in treating illness and disease through the use of fasting and food, and was strongly against the use of drugs. Much of his life was spent researching his theories for preserving and restoring health using himself as a guinea pig. Today at age 93, Dr. Bass is still going strong. He practices medicine, provides consultations, continues to write, and takes a walk every day. This he does on two small but very carefully constructed meals per day.
Sequential eating is an observational science
The idea of sequential eating first occurred to Dr. Bass when he became aware of a famous case during the American Civil War. A soldier had received a gunshot wound that caused a large visible opening to appear in his stomach. Through this opening, doctors were able to observe that his food digested in different layers.
Later, a physiologist named Grutzner fed rats morsels of food in three different colors. A black layer was fed first, then a white layer, and finally a red layer. Shortly after eating, the stomachs of the animals were examined. The different colored food was found to be in layers representing the order in which the colors were eaten.
Dr. Bass performed studies upon himself by eating different foods, one variety at a time, in sequence throughout several different meals. When nature called, he discovered that the foods he had eaten were eliminated in the order they had been consumed.
His experiment documents what many children seem instinctively to know. Children can often be observed eating one food on their plates until they are through with it or it is gone, and then moving on to another. They prefer to begin with the lightest food, and typically eat meat or other dense protein sources last.
Sequential eating theory is based on the different digestion times of various foods
The theory of sequential eating rests on the vast difference in time required to digest different types of foods. If foods that digest quickly are eaten with or after foods that digest slowly, they must wait for the slowly digesting foods to leave the stomach before they in turn can be digested. During the time they are waiting in line to be digested, these lighter foods, which would have otherwise been digested quickly, begin to ferment and produce gas and alcohol while waiting for the slowly digesting foods to move through the system. Since it can take some foods up to 4 or 5 hours to leave the stomach, the gas, acid and indigestion caused by the decomposition of the lighter foods waiting to be digested can be devastating.
In his book Ideal Health Through Sequential Eating, Dr. Bass describes a typically well digested meal in which six different foods are eaten in sequence with each producing enzymes adapted to the digestion of that particular food. The meal began with papaya, tossed salad and corn on the cob, and ending with meat. Each of these foods forms a sequential layer in the stomach. With this meal, the papaya will leave the stomach first, after about 30 minutes. Then the second layer (tossed salad) will move into its place, leaving the stomach in about 30 to 40 minutes. This is followed by the third layer (corn on the cob) which moves down and will be the next to leave the stomach. As the process continues, foods requiring longer digestion times move through the system, with meat being the last food to be digested.
When foods are eaten in sequence starting with the food that requires the least digestion time and ending with the food requiring the most digestion time, the stomach size gets smaller and feels more comfortable as each food is digested. Each layer digests separately without mixing and without disturbing adjacent layers. No foods are allowed to ferment, and no excessive acids or gases are produced.
If these six foods had been eaten all together by moving the fork around the plate taking a bite of each food, a much longer digestion time would have been required. During this digestion time, the papaya, salad and corn would have had to wait until the pieces of meat eaten earlier had moved out of the stomach. While waiting, they would have had time to ferment and produce unpleasant effects.
Basic rules of sequential eating
The most watery, least dense foods should be eaten first, and the most concentrated or dense foods should be eaten last. Watery foods such as fresh fruits and leafy salads are digested rapidly, leaving the stomach quickly and making room for the more concentrated foods.
A glass of vegetable juice or a piece of melon leaves the stomach within minutes if it is consumed first. It can then be followed by something that would normally be incompatible, such as avocado or nuts, and there will not be symptoms of indigestion. However, if the avocado or nuts are were eaten first, fermentation of the juice or melon would be the result.
People tend to have a high protein salad or sandwich followed by a piece of fruit for dessert. They then experience indigestion, bloating and gas as the fruit ferments while the other food is being digested. To avoid this, simply eat the fruit first. Melon is the fastest digesting fruit and should always be eaten before other fruits. Acid fruits, such as citrus, pineapple, blueberries, or pomegranate should than be eaten before other members of the fruit kingdom, and before all other foods.
Beverages or water should be consumed only before the meal begins in order not to dilute digestive enzymes.
Good sequences to remember
* Melon before all other fruits including acid fruits
* Fruit 15 minutes before vegetable soup or salad
* Acid fruits before less acid fruits
* Vegetables before starch
Particularly bad sequences and combinations
* Mixing dried sweet fruit, honey, maple syrup or bananas with nuts or seeds
* Mixing starch foods with acid foods or fruits
* Mixing dried sweet fruits with acid fruits
* Eating dried sweet fruits with or after concentrated protein foods
* Eating raw, fresh or dried fruits after any cooked food
* Drinking beverages or water during or after meals
Dr. Bass’ tips for eating
Dr. Bass views it as supremely important to chew all foods until they are as close to liquid as possible. Foods eaten without proper chewing take longer to digest, require the use of more digestive enzymes, and are not well assimilated into the body. People who do not properly chew their food often find themselves totally exhausted from all the energy expenditure needed to break it down.
Dr. Bass recommends consuming food with full attention directed to the act of eating and tasting the food. When the body and mind are integrated and attuned to the act of eating, good digestion is promoted. And when the great sensual enjoyment of eating and relishing the taste of food becomes the total focus, people instinctively recognize when taste begins to lose its enjoyment, and they stop eating. In order for people to eat in this manner which is in sync with the other creatures of nature, foods containing flavorings must not be consumed. When foods are adulterated with added flavors, even if they are organic flavors, the body is unable to recognize the natural signals to stop eating.
Digestion times of various foods
Dr. Bass has assembled these digestion times. They represent the ideal situation under which only one food at a time is being consumed, is well chewed, and the person’s digestive functioning is in excellent shape. On a conventional diet in which foods are combined haphazardly, or for persons whose systems are not optimal, digestion times are very much longer.
The smaller the amount of a particular food eaten, the less time it will take for that food to be digested. The fewer the varieties eaten, the easier the digestion and the less likely the person is to overeat.
- Watermelon, fruit and vegetable juices: 15-20 minutes
- Semi-liquid blended salads: 20-30 minutes
- Other melon, orange, grapes: 30 minutes
- Other fresh fruits: 40 minutes
- Raw tossed salad: 30-40 minutes
- Most steamed or cooked vegetables: 40-50 minutes
- Starchy vegetables: 60 minutes
- Grains, legumes and lentils: 90 minutes
- Seeds: 2 hours unless they have been soaked
- Nuts: 2 1/2 to 3 hours unless they have been soaked
- Skim milk or low fat cottage cheese or ricotta: 90 minutes
- Whole milk cottage cheese: 120 minutes
- Whole milk hard cheese: 4 to 6 hours
- Egg yolk: 30 minutes
- Whole egg: 45 minutes
- Fish (cod, scrod, flounder, sole): 30 minutes
- Fatty fish: 45 to 60 minutes
- Chicken without skin: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
- Turkey without skin: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
- Beef or lamb: 3 to 4 hours
- Pork: 4 1/2 to 5 hours