Healthy? Or unhealthy?
Healthy or unhealthy? The importance of the right combinations
The question whether we eat healthy or unhealthy doesn’t seem to be so very complicated. When asked what is healthy, most people will name things like fruits, vegetables, dairy, fish, chicken and unrefined grains. Almost all people love the smoothies with their sheer endless variety of combinations of fruits and vegetables with milk or yogurt. Not many people will consider this breakfast to be unhealthy:
- fresh orange juice
- smoothie with milk, banana, strawberries and melon
- boiled egg
- fresh salmon
- Greek yogurt
- tea with honey
And yet, from an Ayurvedic perspective, a lot is wrong with this seemingly very healthy breakfast. The problem is not in the products – each of them can indeed be very healthy. The problem is in the combinations. Why? Because everything we eat also needs to be digested. And that is exactly where things go wrong.
To understand why, from the Ayurvedic viewpoint, this breakfast is not healthy at all, we first need to know that Ayurveda looks at more aspects than nutritional values such as vitamins, proteins, fat, carbohydrates etc. In any food, mainly three other qualities are considered:
- Rasa (taste)
- Virya (cooling or warming)
- Vipaka (effect during and after digestion)
If these qualities (partly) don’t match, this leads to problems for our digestive system.
Milk and melon, for example, are both cooling, but require a very different kind of digestion. The milk needs more time, while the melon needs more acid, which will cause the milk to curdle.
A very populair combination for smoothies is of course milk and banana; it tastes deliciously and gives a beautifully creamy substance. Unfortunately, in Ayurveda this too is an uncompatible combination: they match in terms of taste (sweet) and energy (cooling), but their Vipaka or after effect is different – for the banana it is sour, while it is sweet for milk. This confuses our digestion, causing changes in the intenstinal flora and producing toxins, possibly leading to allergies, sinus disorders and cold.
Another infamous combination is fish and dairy (this would include the milk in your coffee after a meal with shrimps or any kind of fish). In Ayurveda, this is considered as one of the most toxic combinations.
Then, there is the honey in the tea. If the tea has slightly cooled down, there is no problem. But having honey in hot tea destroys all the qualities of the honey and even makes it slightly toxic.
If to all this we add that milk and egg are also considered to be incompattible for our digestion, we can understand why the breakfast above is not at all healthy from the Ayurvedic point of view.
If we often eat the wrong combinations, our digestion system will be under pressure. The result can be indigestion, malabsorption and toxic waste materials. Below you find some of the main incompatible food combinations:
- Fresh fruits (especially melon and banana + milk products
- Fish + milk products
- Egg + milk products
- Yogurt + fruit, milk, fish, meat, cheese, egg
- cold drinks + meals
- melon + anything
- raw + cooked
Here we should mention that it certainly does matter whether your digestion is strong or weak. Therefore, some people will have more trouble than others. Ayurveda also acknowledges that it is possible for the body to become accustomed to certain combination when they have been taken from an early age, making the negative effects less strong and less acute.
It may seem difficult to avoid combinations that sometimes have become so much part of our daily food habits. But it can be very much worthwhile when you frequently have stomache aches, digestive problems, wind or bloating. And don’t forget: every little helps and every change can be made one small step at a time.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Sri Sri Ayurveda. Check with your doctor before taking herbs, herbal food supplements or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.