Ever noticed why there is a sudden increase in skin issues, gut issues, and autoimmune conditions like inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and psoriasis in the last two decades?
Modern medical science may not have any reason for it but Ayurveda does. According to Ayurveda, ‘Roga Sarvepi Mandagni’, this Sanskrit verse from Acharya Vagabhata literally translates to, every disease in the human body is caused by MANDAGNI or as we can simply put it as poor digestive fire. When your digestive fire is low or imbalanced, the food you eat is not digested completely and undigested food particles form into ama or what we can simply call metabolic toxins which then accumulate in the body to give rise to most of the diseases. Virudhahara (faulty incompatible diet) and virudhvihar (faulty lifestyle) are the two most common causes that lead to the imbalance of digestive fire. In this article, let’s take a look at virudhahar or faulty incompatible combinations that shouldn’t be mixed together, especially with milk.
Concept of virudhahara (incompatible food combinations)
Virudhahara or incompatible diet is one of the most fascinating concepts of Ayurveda.1 Charak Samhita, the most ancient Ayurveda textbook mentions 18 types of food contradictions. Ayurveda mentions food that is mixed with the wrong combinations, the food that has undergone the wrong processing methods, and which is consumed at the incorrect time, at the wrong season, and in the incorrect dose are considered incompatible in Ayurveda.
1) Heated honey (processing incompatibility): Honey alone in Ayurveda is considered as nectar but if it undergoes the process of heating, the same honey becomes poisonous and is said to have fatal consequences on consumption.2
2) Eating ice creams and hot brownies (potency incompatibility): Ice creams have cold potency whereas brownies are consumed hot. Opposite potencies of the food items is believed to have ill effects on the digestive system. A lot of recent studies also point out to the fact that one should avoid regular consumption of food products at such varying temperatures.3
Ayurveda says, two food items that may stimulate the digestive fire and serve as nectar for the body separately, if combined can diminish the digestive fire and lead to gut health issues that eventually lead to ama (metabolic toxins) and then to diseases.
Concept of milk and its combinations in Ayurveda
Milk is considered a complete meal in Ayurveda. It is guru (heavy), has madhur rasa (sweet taste), and madhur vipaka (sweet, nourishing post-digestive effect). Ayurveda says, milk in appropriate quantities, if digested properly, nourishes all the seven mentioned dhatus (building blocks) in Ayurveda, balances all three doshas, and increases the ojas (immunity) of the body.
Milk is a staple food and most of us like to begin our day with ample nutrition and energy that milk provides. But, have you ever noticed, most people feel uneasy, heavy, fatigued and bloated the entire day after consuming milk shakes, milk smoothies, and ice creams?
If taken alone or with suitable combinations, milk serves as a nectar for the human body. However, if it is combined with incompatible combinations it disrupts the process of nourishment of the body tissues and affects the immune system. Ayurveda mentions various things that shouldn’t be mixed with milk such as salt, yogurt, eggs, fruits, etc. Let us take a detailed look at what isn’t suitable to combine with milk!
10 food items that should not be combined with milk as per Ayurveda
They say, to be happy you need to have 3 things: a good bank account, a good cook, and good digestion. Milk is a heavy, nutrient-dense food item, which hampers and slows the process of digestion which is why mixing anything heavy, sour, and non-vegetarian with it is generally a bad idea. To maintain your gut health, make sure to never mix these things with milk:
Milk with fruits: Yes, you read it right! According to Ayurveda, milk is not compatible with most fruits and shouldn’t be mixed. So, smoothies, shakes and fruit creams are a big no!4
Milk with banana: Ever noticed why banana shake doesn’t work for everyone? Milk and banana are one of the most overused incompatible combinations. Although both bananas and milk have a sweet taste, the vipaka (post-digestive effect) for bananas is sour and milk is sweet. Milk is also considered guru (heavy) in Ayurveda. Since the post-digestive effect of both milk and banana is different, the combination of milk with banana becomes abhishyandi, something which is heavy and clogs the minutest of the body channels thus affecting digestion and leading to ama formation in the longer run5. Most commonly, Kapha-dominating people have visible digestive disturbances with this combination since it majorly leads to Kapha aggravation.
Milk with sour fruits: Milk has a sweet post-digestive effect whereas sour fruits have a distinct sour post-digestive effect. Milk has lactogens and the contradicting vipaka (post digestive effect) of both milk and fruits end up curdling and coagulating the milk in the stomach. This eventually affects the process of digestion and leads to the formation of ama (metabolic toxins) in the body.6
Milk with mango: Did I just hear a gasp? Well, unripe mangoes have a sour taste and hot potency and hence should be avoided to mix with milk that has sweet taste and cooling potency7. Due to different potencies and post digestive effects, this combination is against the rules of Ayurveda. Not only does it affect your digestion but the formation of toxins makes it easier for diseases to manifest in the body in the longer run.
However, completely ripe and sweet mangoes are exceptions and can be combined with milk because completely ripe and sweet mangoes have sweet taste and normal potency that doesn’t contradict with the potency and post-digestive effect of the milk.8
Milk and melons: Milk is a heavy, nutrient-dense food item that also has a laxative effect whereas melons are rich in water content and have a diuretic effect. Both of these combined contradict the laws of food combination in Ayurveda and lead to stomach disturbances and diminished digestive fire.9
Milk with raw vegetables: Ayurveda texts, in general, prohibits the consumption of raw vegetables10. Ayurveda considers that anything raw is heavy to digest and diminishes the agni (digestive fire). If we analyze it a bit, combining one heavy food item with another will only cause overload to the digestive system and lead to the toxin buildup in the body.11
Milk with salt: Milk with salty biscuits is a big no!12 Milk has madhur rasa (sweet flavor) according to Ayurveda, and adding it to salt (lavana ras) which is opposite to its natural flavor is not considered compatible according to Charak Samhita, an ancient Ayurveda textbook. This combination is believed to give rise to allergic reactions and trigger skin disorders in the body.
Milk with meat: Ayurveda says, milk should not be taken with any non-vegetarian food items since both of them are heavy and take time to digest.13 According to modern science as well, the consumption of two kinds of proteins should generally be avoided as they tend to reduce the production of gastric acids that help in digestion. This takes us to the root cause of most diseases which is poor digestion and hence should be avoided.
Milk with radish: Consumption of milk with radish is considered to give rise to twak rog (skin disorders) in Ayurveda14. This combination can trigger autoimmune skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Radish has hot potency whereas milk has cold potency. Combining these two together in any form will create chaos in the digestive system eventually leading to the imbalance of the three doshas in the body.
Milk with fish: According to Ayurveda, milk shouldn’t be taken together with fish, especially the Cilacima fish15. Although both milk and fish have the same rasa (taste), they have opposite potencies. Milk has cool potency whereas fish has hot potency. This virya virudhtha (potency incompatibility) affects digestion, and leads to the vitiation of blood which eventually obstructs the minute body channels called ‘strotas’ in Ayurveda and leads to the formation of the ama (metabolic toxins). This is said to manifest and trigger autoimmune skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis in the body.
Milk and curd/yogurt: Milk is a rich, heavy and a nutrient-dense food, when combined with curd which is equally heavy and has hot potency, it precipitates the curd inside the stomach. Undigested milk and curd then aggravate the Kapha dosha which leads to the infamous ama16 or toxins that lead to diseases in the longer run.
Milk with nightshades: Consuming milk with nightshade vegetables such as tomato, potatoes, and eggplants is a sure shot way to affect your digestion.17 This combination is heavy to digest and there is usually a contradiction either in potencies (veerya), post-digestive effect (vipaka) or flavor (rasa) of the combination. For example, tomatoes are sour in taste, eggplants are hot in potency and well potatoes are drying and really heavy to digest. These combinations with milk which is sweet in taste, cold in potency and itself is a heavy food product, can lead to the formation of metabolic toxins in the body. Although adding spices to these meals may cut down on heaviness, these still remain a combination that you should avoid according to Ayurveda.
Milk with yeast: Yeast has a hot potency and it tends to increase the Pitta dosha in the body. Combining it with milk which has cold potency is never a good idea. Breads containing yeast should be avoided with milk18 to prevent the aggravation of Pitta dosha which leads to skin issues like acne, breakout, and skin inflammation.
Milk with eggs: Milk with eggs, especially raw ones, is prohibited in Ayurveda.19 This combination will create havoc inside the digestive system, diminish the digestive fire and lead to stomach disturbances. According to modern medicine as well, one should avoid the consumption of two kinds of proteins at the same time to prevent unwanted pressure on the digestive system or else it will eventually lead to gas, bloating and acidity.
If you are thinking, Can we even mix anything with milk?
Well, milk is usually best taken alone as a complete meal. However, to balance out the heaviness and Kapha aggravating properties of the milk, you can always add nuts, dry fruits, a pinch of turmeric, figs, or ghee to your glass of plain milk.20 These products will add more nutrition and less side effects to the milk!
Acharya Charaka and Acharya Sushruta, the ancient Ayurveda scholars have mentioned that people who are young, exercise regularly, and have strong digestive fire can consume small quantities of incompatible food combinations without affecting their digestion.
But let's be honest, with our current lifestyle, the best of us are not able to exercise, eat well, and maintain good digestion. Hence it is always good to not indulge regularly in incompatible food combinations that may seem trivial but end up giving a big blow to your digestive and immune systems.
Dr. Palak Garg is a practicing Ayurveda Doctor with an experience of 7 years in the field of Ayurveda. She has been actively consulting patients online all over the globe. She is on the expert panel of leading Ayurveda startups for product formulation. She aims at incorporating Ayurveda in the uber cool millennial lifestyles!