The Dissociate Diet

What is the Dissociated Diet?

The dissociated diet, described for the first time in the book Food Allergy, published in 1931 by Dr. William Howard Hay, is a diet widespread throughout the international dietary landscape.

The leitmotif of this diet is represented by the possibility of gaining in well-being and shape, through the correct association of the various foods.

In particular, the classic dissociated diet and its variants are based on very strict rules, which prohibit the association of certain foods within the same meal or even on the same day.

This concept has been taken up and revisited by other authors, giving rise to a long list of diets based, at least in part, on the theory of "good and bad food combinations".

Rules to Follow

Precisely by virtue of this heterogeneity, we will try to classify, in order of importance, the 10 main rules on which dissociated diets are based.

Correctly associating foods means:

  1. In the same meal, eat a single concentrated food or several "compatible" foods (generally belonging to the same category)
  2. Do not combine protein-rich foods with other carbohydrate-based foods in the same meal, especially if they are rich in sugar
  3. Avoid combining protein sources of different nature (for example meat and fish or legumes and dairy products)
  4. Eat complex carbohydrates and sugars in separate meals
  5. To abandon the classic habit of ending the meal with fruit and / or dessert; better to consume these foods alone and at different times of the day
  6. The body balance is disturbed by the modern lifestyle, which favors the accumulation of toxins to the point of compromising the functionality of the entire organism. To defend against the dangers of this dangerous condition, it is necessary to increase the consumption of fruit, vegetables, smoothies and vegetable broths which, together with caloric moderation and correct food associations, favor the detoxification of the body.
  7. While the dissociated diet encourages the intake of plant foods, on the other it warns against the dangers of a diet too rich in animal products (cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and some cancers)
  8. The consumption of carbohydrates must be maximum during the early stages of the day and gradually decrease as you approach dinner
  9. The most abundant meal should be taken from 13pm to 16pm, always paying attention not to associate carbohydrates and proteins
  10. Dinner must be rich in protein foods and almost completely exclude carbohydrates, with the exception of complex ones contained in vegetables or in modest quantities of whole grains.

The first seven points are the backbone of the dissociated diets more attentive to the health aspect and aimed above all at the prevention of gastrointestinal problems related to poor eating habits (aerophagia, flatulence, fatigue, loss of postprandial concentration, etc.).

Rules 8, 9, and 10 are instead more common in diets intended for athletes and people wishing to gain in line and physical efficiency (see chronodiet and glycogen supercompensation).

Physiological basis

The rules proposed by the dissociated diet are not left to chance, but based on a more or less solid scientific basis.

The entire digestive process is in fact mediated by a series of chemical, mechanical and enzymatic reactions, which interact with each other.

Let's see some key points:

  • while simple carbohydrates are digested and absorbed very quickly, starchy foods, after being partially digested by salivary amylase (ptyalin), require a more laborious process which is completed in the small intestine. Sweets and sugary fruit should therefore be consumed alone and between meals, with the exception of apples and pineapple.
  • While at the gastric level the digestion of proteins takes advantage of a particularly acid environment, the same conditions inhibit the activity of ptyalin. Thanks to their retarding effect on the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, fats make protein digestion more difficult but favor that of starches, which benefits from an environment close to neutrality.
  • Green light therefore to the marriage of fats and starchy foods, red light instead for the association of proteins with foods rich in carbohydrates. Some supporters of the dissociated diet allow you to combine protein foods rich in fats with small quantities of starches, while the association of proteins and vegetables is always well regarded, which, due to their contribution in salts, favor enzymatic action and counteract putrefactive processes. .
  • Points 8, 9 and 10 are instead based on the study of circadian rhythms and on the influence of various hormones on the body's metabolism (for more information see: Dr. Todisco's chronodieta).

Does the Dissociated Diet Work?

At this point it is fair to ask whether the biochemical and physiological rules set out in this last paragraph are sufficient to decree the success and scientificity of the dissociated diet.

In principle, the answer is negative, since a healthy organism is perfectly capable of tolerating the most disparate associations of nutrients, do you know the expression: "that person would digest even stones"?!.

However, this simple observation does not authorize us to demonize the dissociated diet or to mock those who support us. Indeed, some aspects of this food model deserve due attention.

Commendable are, for example, the advice to increase the share of plant foods in one's diet, to distribute the caloric intake in at least three main meals and not to overdo it with fats and seasonings.

It is more difficult to agree on the role of correct food associations which, although important and in some cases fundamental for the resolution of the most common digestive problems, risk unnecessarily subtracting taste, imagination and balance from one's diet.

Many of us, from personal experience, know that they do not tolerate the association of certain foods but this does not authorize us to think that this rule is valid for everyone.

Dwelling on the chemical analysis of the foods in question, we will probably discover that it is not so much the particular mix of macronutrients that disturbs us, but the food itself. In some cases it is sufficient to change the origin of the ingredients or the cooking methods to bypass the problem.

In other words, we sometimes blame incorrect food associations when in reality the problem is another (food intolerances, excessive stress, bad chewing, poor cooking, dietary habits and incorrect lifestyle, etc.).

The dissociated diet is not a panacea, but a food model with positive and negative aspects, which must be known and addressed with a critical spirit. Those who defend it with the sword are wrong but also those who contest it are wrong without taking into account some of its elements which, despite the criticisms, are perfectly in line with the latest health-related acquisitions.

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