Anyone vaguely interested in Ayurveda will know that digestion is key to health. Modern medical practitioners are also now realising this, with a widening range of health issues being attributed to an faulty gut microbiome (which is a major player in digestion). We know that it is not just what you eat but how you digest it. You can put lots of nutritious food in your stomach with the right food groups, tonnes of minerals and vitamins but if your digestive system cannot digest it properly, you won’t get the nutrition you think you’re getting. How food is digested is affected by a few key factors, one of which is food combination.
Incompatible food combinations are a major contributor to āma (sticky toxin) formation, and the list of diseases attributed to them take in all systems and tissues, affecting our health on many levels. Specific problems that can arise are bloating, indigestion, diseases of the intestines, skin diseases and even infertility. The good news is there are not as many of these incompatible food combinations as you might think. The ones that there are, though, are well worth noting as it makes a big difference to our digestion and thus our health.
My aim as an Ayurvedic practitioner is to only ever put forward Ayurvedic advice that I can substantiate with a reference from an ancient Ayurvedic text or that has been proved with a thorough research trial. It is easy to accumulate urban-myth type information in any field and I put my hand up that I have occasionally fallen into this trap with Ayurveda. I decided to find the textual basis for many ‘incompatible foods’ which are mentioned in the popular press and the internet. Not finding any references for a lot of them, I have narrowed the list down considerably, sorting fact from fiction.
Here are the textually referenced food combining rules that we would be wise to adhere to if we want to maintain good digestion.
Milk is the main troublemaker
Avoid milk with these foods:
*Lemons, mangoes, and bananas get a special mention. Bananas are classed as sour although they do not really seem it.
** This seems at odds with the many references to garlic boiled with milk to be taken medicinally. The jury’s out on this one!
Fish and meat cause problems in combination with these foods
Banana and dairy are incompatible
Don’t combine honey and ghee in equal quantities
Plus, particularly important; don’t heat honey. This also means you should not buy honey which has been heat processed or extracted. There are only a few brands which use cold-extraction and do not heat their honey. I have found one reasonably-priced brand commonly available in good supermarkets in the UK (Littleover Apiaries).
Fruit. The order of eating is important
This is especially important with sour fruit.
Do your digestion a favour and avoid these food combinations.
Until next time, take care of yourselves.
Author: Kate Siraj, Ayurvedic Practitioner, BSc Ayurveda, MChem (Oxon), MAPA.
© The Ayurveda Practice
 Samyoga viruddhahara
 Astanga Samgraha Sutra Sthana 9, Astanga Hrdayam Sutra Sthana 7, Caraka Samhita Sutra Sthana 26, Sushruta Samhita Sutra Sthana 46