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Written by Dr Ashwini Konnur,
in Food & Nutrition
By paying attention to what you eat and how you combine various foods, one can not only improve the overall quality of digestion in their body but also avoid various issues like food poisoning, bad stomach, gastritis, acidity and other GI related problems.
So how does it matter?
To many the idea of proper food combination is entirely a new concept but Ayurveda explains food combination as an essential part of one’s diet. Each food has a distinctive Rasa (Taste), Virya (potency), Vipaka (post digestion effect), Prabhava (inexplicable effect), and energy and when combined with each other it has a comparable effect on not only the digestive system but also on the entire body. Food with different dynamism when merged can devastate the digestive fire and may cause indigestion, vomiting, loose stools, bloating and formation of ama (toxins). Some long term usage of incompatible food may lead to long lasting disorders like dry skin, skin rashes, skin disease, loss of sleep, low energy level, etc.
For instance consuming banana with milk imbalances the agni (digestive fire) and leads to ama causing throat irritation, sinus congestion, cold, cough and even allergic reaction. Despite both banana and milk have sweet and cooling virya yet banana has a sour vipaka and milk is sweet after digestion. This difference in Vipaka causes confusion in the digestive fire and thus leads to an imbalance in the body. Take another example, Fish with milk is incompatible. Fish and milk both have a sweet rasa and vipaka but fish is Ushna virya (hot) and milk is sheet virya (cold). This change in potency makes the combination incompatible. If consumed it vitiates blood by blocking the channels and may cause skin related conditions like psoriasis, skin rashes or allergies.
All our senses play an important role in digestion. Seeing, smelling, touching, tasting and even thinking about food helps in generating proper signals for secretion of appropriate digestive enzymes. One has to understand that our glands respond to the foods consumed to the best of their ability. They infer the signals receive then supply the appropriate secretions they gather in order to preserve health and integrity of the individual. Due to continuous bombardment in the form of incompatible food combination a state of saturation is reached in our digestive system resulting in obliteration of the natural digestive mechanism in other words our metabolism is hampered thus leading to manifestation of disease or low energy.
As a beginner, it may be difficult to understand the concept of food incompatibility. The list below gives some commonly used incompatible food and the reason for their incompatibility:
Well there are many more such combinations that are incompatible but Charaka Acharya has explained incompatibility in much simpler way as Viruddha Ahara that means contraindication of food.
Some helpful aids to improve digestion:
Ayurveda does have treatment for disorders of incompatible food and diet habits. Detoxification or Panchakarma treatment such as Vamana and Virechana will help in expelling out the undigested food particles and the toxins from the body. This also helps in balancing the aggravated doshas. Once the toxins are removed specific treatment is adopted and good diet pattern can be followed.
Shifting from weak to healthy eating habit have to be gradual and not sudden. A good healthy diet restores lost energy and provides health and thus having knowledge of combining food and incompatible food can aid you with insights of healing and improving health.
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