Probiotics, antacids, heartburn pills, smooth move teas, detox packs, etc. etc. Every time I walk into a health food store or a pharmacy, I am amazed at the number of products they sell to help you eliminate your foods.
Approximately 75 to 100 million Americans suffer from some sort of digestive troubles — and the Ayurvedics say the solution won’t come from these products but from the proper diet and food combining.
Eating the proper foods will make a big difference in your well-being – we all know that. However, knowing your dosha, which I have been talking about on this blog and adhering to your dosha diet aren’t complete without the third step: proper food combining.
You may be a bit confused by this idea since the various factions in the nutrition community are in sharp disagreement about how it is done.
Ayurveda has its own approach to food combining. Every food has its own taste (rasa), a heating or cooling energy (virya) and post-digestive effect (vipak). When two or three different food substances of different taste, energy and post-digestive effect are combined together agni can become overloaded resulting in production of toxins in the system – trouble starts!
The order in which we eat different classes of foods, how we combine them, and the amounts we consume will determine how well we digest and assimilate our vital nutrients. The better we digest and assimilate our foods, the less likely we are to form toxic substances, accumulate excess fat, and crave unhealthy foods.
Different classes of food require their own specific digestive enzymes – an obvious fact to anyone who has taken high school biology. Yet as a society we seem to have missed the vitally important implication of this fact. It is: by consuming many different types of food at a single meal we place a demand on our digestive glands to manufacture and secrete many different digestive enzymes simultaneously.
For example, eating bananas with milk can diminish digestive fire, change the intestinal flora, produce toxins and cause sinus congestion, cold, cough and allergies. Although both of these foods have a sweet taste, a cooling energy, their post digestion effect is very different – bananas are sour while milk is sweet. This causes confusion in our system and results in serious imbalances.
The principles of ayurvedic food combining come from the ancient writing of the Indian physicians around 100 A.D. In the olden days, we used to eat only two or three different types of foods at any one meal. These days, we tend to have at least six or seven (if not more) types of food overtaxing our digestive system.
Foods that really don’t go well together, from the ayurvedic perspective include leftovers, and “dead” foods such as processed, packaged, canned and frozen foods because they are very hard for your body to digest and are lacking in chetana–living intelligence–and prana–vital life-energy–and will do more harm than good in the physiology.
If it seems confusing at first, Here’s a Quick Cheat Sheet on Ayurvedic Food Combining:
- Avoid having milk or yogurt with sour or citrus fruits. And, yes, it means that yogurt with fruit would not be considered a healthy breakfast choice by an ayurvedic practitioner! Eat separately.
- Avoid eating fruits together with potatoes or other starchy foods. Fructose (fruit sugar) and other sugars are digested quickly, whereas starch takes quite some time. In this case the sugar would not be properly digested.
- Avoid eating melons and grains together. Melons digest quickly whereas grains take more time. This combination will upset the stomach.
- Melons should be eaten alone or left alone.
- Try to eat fruits separately to get the most nutrients.
- Avoid eating cooked and raw foods together.
- Honey should never be cooked. Honey digests slowly when cooked and the molecules become a non-homogenized glue which adheres to mucous membranes and clogs subtle channels, producing toxins. Uncooked honey is nectar. Cooked honey is poison.
- Do not eat meat protein and milk protein together.
- Milk and milk products basically should not be eaten together. The action of hydrochloric acid in the stomach causes the milk to curdle. For this reason Ayurveda advises against taking milk with sour fruits, yogurt, sour cream, cheese, and fish.
- Cold beverages should not be consumed during or directly after a meal as it reduces agni and digestion. Small sips of warm or tepid water taken during the meal serves to aid digestion.
- While eating one should properly chew the food in order to soften it and ensure that it is thoroughly mixed with saliva.
For Your Happy Belly,