Food items

Sometimes you may be eating the best foods but due to a wrong combination, the food items become harmful to us rather than being beneficial. Hence, it is desirable that one should understand the laws of food combination and their scientific basis.

When one eats an incompatible combination of foods, nature flashes a distress signal in the form of a belch (this also happens when one overeats). We should learn to heed this little warning of nature. In case one doesn’t heed this warning and still continues overeating and taking in the wrong food combinations, then the following disorders may immediately follow:

  • Vomiting
  • Loose motions\ diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • On a long term basis people develop skin diseases in form of vitiligo (white patches), spreading slowly all over the body.

    Acid and waste products of protein indigestion and putrefaction are easily identified in the urine. Scientifically they belong to the group of phenyls, skatoles, indoxyl-sulphuric acids, uric acid and toxic amines. Often they are eliminated through mucous memebranes or by diffusion in to spinal fluid.

    Below are some laws for right and wrong food combinations.

    1. Milk should not be combined with any other food. It should be taken alone:

    Milk never combines well with any other food. Milk in itself is a complete food and requires time for its digestion in its concentrated form. No other food like meat, cereals, pulses, nuts, fruits containing citric acid, food containing salts should be taken with milk.
    Milk does not get digested in the stomach but in duodenum, hence in the presence of milk the stomach does not respond with its secretions.
    Milk prevents insalivations also, creating problems for digestion of starchy foods. If taken with solid food, then it dilutes the acid in the stomach thereby leading to further indigestion.
    Due to its fat and protein contents on reaching the stomach, the milk coagulates to form curd, which then gathers around the particles of other food in the stomach, thus insulating them against the gastric juices. This prevents their digestion until the milk curd is digested.
    When taken with citric acid, the quality and chemical composition of milk is changed. (It tears off milk making it a condensed protein particle).

    2. Starches and proteins shouldn’t be taken together:

    All starches are digested in an alkaline media. But proteins are digested in acid media. When starches after mixing with salivary enzymes in the mouth, pass on to the stomach with proteins, heavy hydrochloric acid is poured out from the stomach to digest starch and proteins, thereby making digestion very difficult. Starches are forced to remain in the stomach until proteins are digested completely. By the time it reaches the small intestine without full digestion, it is already fermented due to long retention in the stomach. These great amounts of undigested starches are found in the stool.
    Not only starch but proteins too remain undigested. The acid and alkaline both contrast and neutralize each other inhibiting the digestive process of starch and protein.
    If at all you have to eat starch and proteins together then first eat proteins and half an hour later eat starchy food, so that the digestion is not hampered.
    From this point of view roti-dal, rice with milk (kheer), rice with fish, egg with bread, roti with rice and meat etc are not ideal combinations. However carbohydrates and proteins can be eaten separately with vegetables.

    3. Fruits and sugars shouldn’t be combined with other solid foods, they should be taken alone:

    All sugars eg-white sugar, sugar syrups, jaggery, sweet fruits, honey etc taken with protein, starches and fats hinder their digestion. Sugars undergo practically no digestion in the mouth and stomach. They are primarily digested in the intestines. If taken alone, they are not held in the stomach for a long time but are quickly pushed to the intestines. But when eaten with other foods like proteins and starches or fats, they get held up in the stomach for a prolonged period awaiting digestion of other foods and meanwhile itself will go in fermentation.
    Fruits and sugars as a law ferment with all solid foods and milk. Sugar is an acidic food. The fermentation of sugar further leads to multiplication of the problems like hyperacidity, gastric reflux and indigestion.
    From this point of view items in which sugar is mixed eg: sweet curd, sweet lassi, ice cream, kheer, sweet milk are wrong combinations.

    4. Avoid taking acidic\sour foods togather:

    Fruit acids or any other acidic foods\medicines interfere in the gastric digestion of proteins either by destroying the pepsin or by inhibiting hydrochloric acid secretion. Gastric juices are not poured out in the presence of acidic or sour foods in the stomach. This seriously hinders protein digestion, which results in putrefaction.
    Lemons, grapes, oranges, plums, prunes, mangoes, sweet lemon, strawberry, malta, pineapples, pomegranates, tomato, tamarind are all acidic food items.
    Since curd is also acidic in nature, taking it with dal etc it should also be avoided. Even sprinkling tomatoes over dal is a wrong practice.

    5. Don’t take different kinds of proteins at one time:

    Two proteins of different characters and different compositions call for different modifications of digestive secretions and different timings of secretions in order to digest them efficiently. For example, the strongest juices are poured out upon milk in the last hours of digestion while in the case of flesh; it is in the first hour of digestion. Similarly eggs receive the strongest secretion at a different time compared to that received by either flesh or milk. It is impossible to meet the requirements of two different proteins at the same meal. Two kinds of flesh or nuts or pulses may be taken together but not with a totally different protein group. For example, nuts can be eaten with different nuts and flesh with different flesh.
    From this angle, kadhi, dahivada, cheese omelette, paneer pakoda, milk and nut kheer are not ideal combinations. Similarly a combination of veg. proteins and non–veg proteins is not proper as they are different in their protein values. To conclude, take one concentrated protein at a meal, otherwise indigestion of proteins may result.

    6. Combination of curd with foods:

    Curd should not be taken with the following food items:

    A) Starches (wheat, rice, potatoes, sago and other cereals)
    B) Proteins (nuts, legumes, beans, meat, fish, egg etc)
    C) Sugars (white sugar, fruits, syrup, and honey)
    However curd can be taken with raw and cooked vegetables, as in salads.

    7. Salts should not be mixed in salads:

    This is because salt leaches water from salads which comes out along with nutrients, thus salad loses its full benefits.

    8. Avoid eating acidic fruits with sweet fruits:

    Acidic fruits slow down quick digestion of sugars of sweet fruits leading to fermentation.

    9. Avoid eating fats with proteins:

    Fats depress the action of gastric glands and inhibit the release of proper gastric juices which are required for protein digestion. It lowers the entire digestive tone by more than 50 %. Fat insulated foods remain for longer time in the digestive process, demanding overactivity and strain. Heated and fried fats are more dangerous.
    This is the reason why dairy products don’t digest as quickly as other protein foods because these foods contain enough fat to inhibit gastric secretions for a longer time and so they have delayed digestion. From this consideration, putting too much ghee in dal or frying the dal in ghee is not a very good practice. Unlike proteins, combination of carbohydrates with fats is tolerable. Hence a little of ghee applied on roti or bread-butter is acceptable.

    10. Don’t combine tea coffee, alcohol and soft drinks with other solid foods:

    These beverages severely restrict the proper gastric secretions and therefore the normal digestion is hindered. Soft drinks like cola have their ph as 2 to 3…upon being so much acidic ph it has almost 11 spoons of sugars which is again adding to acidity. And when consumed it is so cold that it inhibits gastric fire.

    Tanin present in tea inhibits absorption of iron, zinc, calcium from foods taken with it.

    Some miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Do not take pulpy and juicy fruits together
  • Do not take sugars, sweets with sweet fruits
  • Do not consume fruits and vegetables together
  • Do not consume water over cucumber, melon, watermelon, papaya and banana
  • Milk and curd should not be consumed together
  • Citric fruits and milk, dairy products should not be taken together
  • Do not consume cold water as it reduces digestive power
  • They all lead to the formation of toxins and thereby increase unwanted elements in the body leading to various diseases.

    By-Dr. Hiren Parekh