Our Agni or the digestive fire is what determines whether the food we eat is digested well. Other than the Agni,our dietary patterns and the types of food we consume in different combinations also play a key role in our digestion.
Ayurveda shares the wisdom that when different foods with different energies, tastes (as classified in Ayurveda), and post digestive effects are eaten together, our gastric fire becomes ineffective, hindering the digestive enzyme system, resulting in the production of toxins. On the other hand, if these foods are eaten separately, they can stimulate digestion, and aid in burning or removing toxins.
All dietary combination may not have a logical explanation in Ayurveda. Other than its quality, food also has an effect – prabhava (influence) that can only be seen only through one’s sheer experience. Thus, food combinations possess great importance even if some combinations do not have an explanation.
In Nutrition science, the root cause of most diseases is attributed to improper digestion, the consumption of acid generating foods including fats, sodas, sugar, and acid residuals in the body. Ayurveda too has a similar concept that emphasizes on various food combinations that result in weak acids leading to several diseases. Wrong food combinations may lead to indigestion, excess gas, and fermentation. Long terms consumption of such food combinations can be risky and cause toxemia and diseases.
However, mild incompatibility can also get neutralized if the person is young or has good digestion or is habituated to regular exercise.
Here are some general rules of combining and consuming foods:
- Curds in hot form should be avoided in hot weather and better consumed without sugar, honey, ghee or amla. Example – kadhi, curds in vegetables.
- Curds should NOT be consumed in the night. Curd is best digested at lunch time when the digestive fire is the strongest. Buttermilk helps in digestion while the curds are heavy and slow to digest. Curds have an acidic nature and aggravate pitta and kapha in the body as they produce a lot of heat inside the stomach. People with weak digestion should avoid its consumption.
- Do NOT cook Honey. Cooking honey makes it non-homogenized glue which can clog channels and build toxins in the body
- Avoid eating bananas with milk, curds or buttermilk. This is because it can inhibit Agni and produce excess toxins. This combination could result in cough, cold and allergies.
- Do not combine fruits of different tastes – sour and sweet, as in a salad or fruit chaat. Fruits should be eaten individually as is and as a separate meal. The digestive system considers fruits as a complete meal and releases different enzymes to digest them.
- Do not mix sour fruits with milk to make milkshakes, smoothies, and fruit cream. Instead of milk, use curd or yogurt .
- Raw and cooked foods must not be eaten together. One can have the salads first and then proceed for dinner after a short gap.
- Cold drinks including cold water must be avoided during or directly after a meal. It immediately diminishes the agni and causes digestive problems.