6 surprising ways not to combine foods for better digestion

by | Aug 20, 2022 | Diet & herbs, Featured blog post

Did you know that a secret way to help your digestion is by combining the right foods and limiting the ones that don’t go well together? This is because healthy foods may become unhealthy when we combine them the wrong way or eat them at the wrong time.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this topic lately so I thought I’d capture some popular food combinations that ayurveda has a different take on. Before we dive in, you should know that this blog is just to give you a different perspective on food so you can decide what you want to do—or not do.

Ok, let’s get to it. We digest different foods at different speeds and in different ways. Ayurveda suggests that you prioritize foods that have compatible digestive processes to help your digestion, assimilation and elimination.

Here are some of the most common food combinations that are on ayurveda’s no-no list:

1. Fruits with anything

Fruits should be eaten alone. The way to enjoy your favorite fruits is either 20-30 minutes before a meal or at least one hour after your meal. But it’s best if you just eat them alone. They make great morning or afternoon snacks.

This means that while fruits in your yogurt or super packed smoothie may look good on the surface, they can actually cause indigestion. And as we discussed before, the digestive process is the key to your health according to ayurveda.

2. Melons with other fruits

Everyone’s summer favorite: watermelon is a special kind of fruit. Melons don’t mix well with other fruits so eat your watermelon alone. It’s because it’s about 92%-94% water and digests faster than most other fruits. And stay away from drinking water for about 30-45 minutes after enjoying it.

When you eat watermelon is just as important as how you eat it. You may be tempted to have some for dinner on hot days. For one, you’ll likely take frequent trips to the bathroom at night, which will interrupt your sleep. And since it’s high in water and a bit acidic, it may delay the digestive process at night. It’s also high in sugar, which could contribute to weight gain if you eat it late in the day. (Actually, as a rule of thumb, you’ll want to avoid eating anything that’s high in sugar and acid before going to bed).

3. Fish and milk

Let’s look at milk first. Milk is already a complete meal and it requires your body to dedicate a lot of energy to breaking it down. It contains some of the slowest digesting proteins, making the digestive process long and hard, and keeping your stomach preoccupied with milk digestion. Research finds that a pint of rich raw milk takes 6 ½ hours to move out of your stomach, a pint of boiled milk takes 5 hours, while a pint of water gets through in about 45 minutes.

Now let’s look at fish with milk. Ayurvedically speaking, milk has a cooling and fish has a heating effect on your body. The first is a vegetarian diet style, while the latter is not. You digest them differently and they have different post-digestive effects on your body. Both fish and milk are rich in protein but they require different enzymes to break them down, putting extra pressure on the digestive process. Therefore, combining them can lead to imbalances in your body, which can lead to chemical changes that interfere with your digestive power. If you’re into ayurveda, you’ll read that it increases tamas guna and vata dosha. Ancient text suggests that regularly consuming fish and milk together may even lead to vitiligo, a skin condition where patches of your skin lose their pigments.

While allopathic medicine doesn’t rule out the combination of fish and milk at this time, it does recognize that it could lead to indigestion, pain, upset stomach or diarrhea if you’re allergic to this combo.

Bye, bye seafood chowder and lobster bisque. Adios shepherd’s pie.

I never knew that these 6 popular food combinations may upset digestion. Check them out! #healthyeating #ayurveda Click To Tweet

4. Milk and meat

Milk and meat, but it’s really dairy and meat. This food combination vitiates the blood and similar to the milk and fish combo, it can lead to indigestion. Sorry, chicken fettuccine alfredo.

5. Milk and salt

If you’re a label reader, you’ll be surprised to learn how many foods contain milk, salt, or both. And how easy it is to mix milk and salt without realizing it. Even the most basic foods, such as your cereal can become a victim of the milk and salt combo. So next time you grab a box of cereal in the grocery store, flip over the box to check its salt content before you add milk to it.

6. Cheese and eggs

A popular breakfast and brunch meal is scrambled eggs with cheese. Dairy products and eggs don’t love each other. They’re both rich in protein and as we know, protein takes the longest to digest, causing delayed digestion. Slow digestion increases ama, very roughly translated as toxins, which may create imbalances in the body. (Ama really means undigested, partially or improperly digested food particles).

The list of compatible and non-compatible foods goes on. Knowing how not to combine foods is just as important as knowing when, what and how to eat. If you decide to give this a go, don’t beat yourself up. It’s ok if you slip up. It’s ok if you have the wrong things once in a while. It happens to all of us. For me, the hardest thing to change was how I eat fruit. It took me a while and now I can’t imagine going back.

Bon appetite! And let us know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these suggestions.


Image by Antoni Shkraba, Pexels


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