Incorrect food combining can lead to indigestion, fermentation, decay, and the production of gas, and if left unaddressed, can result in toxemia and the development of illness.
By: Kimberly Rodrigues
The abundance of digestive and dietary aids for the stomach, as well as remedies for gas and indigestion, available today is not surprising. Many of these conditions likely stem from improper food combinations.
Have you ever heard of the recommendation to not mix fruits with milk, or to avoid having palak (spinach) and paneer (cottage cheese) together? There are various food pairing guidelines that are promoted for better health and optimal nutrient absorption.
Some of these include avoiding the combination of starch and protein, eating fruits before a meal and not during or after, separating fruits and vegetables, and not drinking cold water during a meal. But is there any scientific explanation behind these suggestions?
One logical solution for determining the correct diet for an individual is through Ayurveda, an ancient holistic healing science that takes into consideration an individual’s constitutional elements of vata, pitta, and kapha, also known as doshas.
According to the Ayurvedic Institute site, incorrect food combining can lead to indigestion, fermentation, decay, and the production of gas, and if left unaddressed, can result in toxemia and the development of illness.
Speaking about the right food combinations, Dr Ruchi Soni, diet and nutrition expert at ToneOP, told The Indian Express, “Food pairing is a simple method that involves determining the ideal food mix — taste, texture, and effects. When we pair the right food, we not only get sumptuous flavour and texture but also all the nutritional value from the ingredients present in the food.”
Agreeing Lovneet Batra, a nutritionist, took to Instagram and wrote, “Strategically combining certain foods can help your body better absorb vitamins and antioxidants.”
She also suggested the top five ‘food combinations’ for maximum nutrient absorption.
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Prebiotics and probiotics- Banana and yoghurt
Lovneet suggests adding a sliced banana to a bowl of yoghurt. “Combining bananas, which are rich in potassium, with high protein foods like yoghurt helps build muscle,” she said.
Not only is the banana high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, but it is also rich in inulin, a type of prebiotic that promotes gut health and boosts the body’s ability to absorb the calcium present in the yoghurt, thus making it an ideal addition to your healthy diet.
Vitamin D and calcium- Mushrooms and sesame seeds
This combination of vitamins and minerals will ensure the maintenance of strong bones. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in enhancing the uptake of calcium from both dietary sources and supplements, as it activates a series of processes that optimise the absorption of calcium in the intestines. Thus, this pair works in harmony to promote healthy bones.
Vitamin C and iron- Lemon and green leafy vegetables
For optimal absorption of non-heme iron, which is typically found in plant-based sources, it is advisable to combine it with a source of Vitamin C. This helps convert the iron into a more easily absorbable form by breaking it down, thus boosting the body’s ability to utilise this important nutrient.
Healthy fats and vitamin A or lycopene – Olive and spinach
Preparing spinach through cooking and serving it with a drizzle of olive oil has been shown to increase the body’s capacity to absorb its photochemicals, she said.
Vitamin E and C- Almonds and orange
The inclusion of vitamins C and E in your diet can boost your immunity. These vitamins work together to provide your skin with an enhanced defense against the harmful effects of free radicals.
Vitamin E supports the production of red blood cells, while Vitamin C accelerates the healing process of wounds. Thus, incorporating both of these vitamins into your diet will result in a double dose of antioxidant power.
Food pairings to be strictly avoided
Dr Soni warns against consuming turmeric or turmeric-rich foods along with tea as it can have a harmful impact on the body.
She adds, “Turmeric contains curcumin, while tea has tannin — a combination that is likely to cause gastric problems such as acidity or constipation. Also, many people love banana shake, but as per Ayurveda, banana and milk is a bad combination and can affect your digestion as well as aggravate respiratory disorders like sinus, cold and cough.”
Further, the expert points out that palak and paneer too are “not a healthy combination, as spinach is rich in iron and paneer is rich in calcium.”
She explains, “When these two food items are eaten together, calcium inhibits the nutrient absorption of iron.”
Dr Soni also mentioned that it is best to avoid consuming fruit during or immediately after a meal.
This is because fruit is quickly absorbed by the body, but when combined with grains, meats, or dried products, it can linger in the digestive system for too long and ferment.
This can reportedly result in damage to the intestinal walls, among other issues.