Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old sister science of Yoga, taught that certain foods ought not be combined with other foods if digestion is to be kept healthy and optimal. (Yes, Ayurvedic food combining was a thing thousands of years ago!) When you think about it, this only makes common sense. Easy to digest foods, such as watermelon, will get stuck behind harder to digest foods, like meats, if they are eaten together. This increases the risk for food to putrefy in the small intestine, causing small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Proper food combining can enhance absorption of nutrients and improve digestive health, which leads to better health.
Ayurveda teaches that different foods each have their own properties and qualities and mixing incompatible food groups can cause gas and bloating. Remember that gas is not normal. For example, combining cheese with beans can cause gas. Indigestion and gas are signals that you are putting out your digestive fire, or agni, and creating a buildup of toxicity, or ama. Each person is quite different in terms of body type (dosha), digestive health, and level of balance. Don’t know your constitutional type? You can take my quiz here.
Try following these guidelines of Ayurvedic food combining for yourself, and see how you feel. Start out slowly and be kind to yourself. Remember that if you start feeling you are being deprived, the toddler and adolescent inside of you will rebel. This practice is an act of self-compassion and self-care. Make sure you approach it lovingly, treating your body to a gift of ease in digestion. If your digestive health is off, then your entire pancha kosha system will be off. (I talk about the 5 layers that are you in my book, Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle).
Notice how your energy levels are after you have been practicing these rules of Ayurvedic food combining for a month. What does your tongue look like? In Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle, I give you guidelines for observing your tongue and discovering what it’s trying to tell you in terms of feedback from your body.
The following charts are meant to serve as a resource for you to use as you make the shift toward a healthier digestive system by learning to combine foods properly. Enjoy the process and let me know how it goes.
Want to know why these foods that are American favorites, such as fruit and yogurt and beans with cheese are not so great for your body? Read on.
Beans and Cheese
Both beans and cheese are difficult for the human body to break down. They both require a strong digestive fire. Plus, they have very different digestive properties and therefore interfere with cellular communication, absorption, and nutrient assimilation. They quickly douse digestive fire, or agni, and contribute to the accumulation of toxicity, or ama. Weak digestion leads to the improper creation of tissue layers, which leads to disease.
Milk and Fruit
One of the most common breakfast and lunch items given to children is milk or yogurt mixed with fruit. I remember slicing a banana into my children’s cold cereal and sending them off to school in the morning. Little did I know I was contributing to digestive weakness and ill health that would manifest as frequent colds and sinus congestion.
Again, the qualities of these foods are very different. When bananas break down in the body, they become sour. If you have ever squeezed lemon into milk you know it curdles the milk. This is what happens when we mix foods improperly. They douse the digestive fire and create ama. This is a common cause of congestion, colds, coughs, allergies, hives, and rashes.
My deepest appreciation and gratitude for my Ayurvedic teachers Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. Vivek Shanbag, and Dr. Light Miller for making this information available and saving my family and patients from autoimmune disease and other “unexplainable mystery conditions” that we all endured before I practiced these guidelines. One more reason for being grateful for my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis when I was 30 years old. Had this not happened, I would not have needed to search and find answers that the standard American medical model did not have. It is due to this information and other root-cause healing that enabled me to reverse my disease within 6 months.