In our globalized world, where it has never been more simple to acquire foods from all over the world and from any season, at any time that we want, we have subjected ourselves to elaborate feasts (sometimes on a daily basis), in which we combine all kinds of foods that were not meant to be combined in the first place.
Ayurveda shares a detailed list of foods, called Viruddha Ahara (incompatible foods), that should not be combined with other foods. When digestion is strong and robust, more liberal food combining can be observed and enjoyed. However, if we carry this pattern out for too long, or if we already have weak digestion, then we will need to become more aware of how our foods interact with one another and take more care in facilitating their fraternization on our plates and in our bellies.
When we do combine our foods in ways that are not advised by ayurveda, it leads to the creation of a kind of toxicity called annavisha, creating inflammation at the molecular level, as well as manda agni, or digestion that is very heavy, slow and sluggish, which of course leads to imbalance and then disease over time.
FOOD COMBINATIONS TO AVOID:
MILK + FRUITS | MILK + SALT
While in Indian cooking, you might see milk combined with other foods, this is not advised by ayurveda. Milk is not intended to be mixed with fish, meat, radish, garlic, basil, honey and sour-tasting foods. Just think about what happens when you squeeze lime into milk. It curdles and turns the milk rancid.
Fruits are digested much faster than most other foods, and should therefore be eaten alone. When we mix fruit with milk or other products, the fruit will ferment, creating gas build-up, bloating, and impairing digestion.
It's best to not eat fruit right before or right after drinking milk, as well.
Milk is cooling (sheeta virya/ cold potency), and salt is heating (usna virya/ hot potency). Due to their opposing potencies when combined, they become harmful to health.
MILK + FISH | HONEY + FISH
Like with milk and salt, milk has a cooling effect, while fish has a heating effect, which causes them to clash.
Fish should not be taken along with any of the following :
- Sesame seed
- Black gram (a type of bean)
HONEY + HOT WATER | CURD/CHEESE + CHICKEN
Ayurveda shares that honey becomes a poison when it is subjected to high heat. It's always advised to wait until the water cools before adding honey to any drink. Honey also wouldn't be mixed with spicy foods (because they are also heating), nor in equal parts with ghee.
Curd or cheese should not be combined with chicken and shouldn’t even be cooked or used with any hot food items. It said that one should not even drink hot water after consuming curd.
With this understanding, we can truly take responsibility for our health and for our karma in this life, and we can be empowered to know that our level of health is so intrinsically determined by our moment-to-moment choices.