Ayurveda clearly defines that certain diet and its combinations, which interrupts the metabolism of tissue, which inhibits the process of formation of tissue and which have the opposite property to the tissue are called as Viruddha Anna or incompatible diet.1
What are Virudha or incompatible food?
- The food which is wrong in combination
- The food which has undergone wrong processing
- The food which is consumed in incorrect dose
- Consumed in incorrect time of the day
- Consumed in incorrect seasons
Food–food interaction is a serious issue but not much alerted one. Most of these food–food interactions are harmless, but it is always better to know about some of them.
In this article I would be explaining the details about the incompatible foods explained in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda literature has explained 18 types of ‘Virudha Ahara’
- Desha (place) Viruddha
- Kala (Seasonal) Viruddha
- Agni (Digestion) Viruddha
- Matra (quantity) Viruddha
- Satmya (wholesome) Viruddha
- Dosha Viruddha
- Sanskar (mode of preparation) Viruddha
- Veerya (potency) Viruddha
- Koshtha Viruddha
- Avastha (state of health) Viruddha
- Krama (sequence) Viruddha
- Parihara Viruddha
- Upachara (treatment) Viruddha
- Paaka (cooking) Viruddha
- Samyoga (combination) Viruddha
- Hridaya Viruddha
- Sampad (richness of quality) Viruddha
- Vidhi (rules for eating) Viruddha
According to Ayurvedic perspective each food has a distinct combination of tastes, energy and post digestive effect (Rasa, Virya and Vipaka). Therefore, combining foods in a wrong way can affect the digestive fire and may cause gas, bloating and formation of toxins in the body. On the other hand, proper combining can enhance digestion and tissue formation.
Read more about Gut health and skin care here – Importance of gut health in skincare
Here’s a list of Incompatible foods according to Ayurveda.
- Fish and Milk – The potency of fish and milk is different (cold and hot potency respectively) and a combination of these two is known to vitiate blood and cause obstruction to channels.
- Milk and melons – Milk is a laxative and Melons are diuretic, a combination of these two can result in sour belching and acidity.
- Banana with Milk, Yoghurt or buttermilk – Combination of these can cause indigestion and produce toxins in body.
- Ghee and Honey – In equal quantities, this combination is considered to be dangerous as poison.
- Raw and cooked food together is considered incompatible
- Nightshades like potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes etc. with cheese and yoghurt may cause indigestion.
The list is incomplete, still its staple combination used by many people. It’s important to understand that Ayurveda gives prime importance to Agni or digestive fire. It’s said by Acharya Charaka that the root cause of major diseases is improper digestive fire.
Also, certain rules have to be followed while taking food. This include,
- Quantity of food – One should take the right quantity of food always, since the quantity is that which maintains proper digestive power. Quantity of food depend on the digestive power of the individual.
- Time of eating – Ayurveda advises three meals in a day and the main meal should be lunch which is the Pitta time and digestive fire is maximum. Also, dinner should be taken before sunset, as sun goes down the digestive fire also goes down.
- Sequence of consuming food – One should include all the 6 tastes while consuming food. The sweet taste needs to be taken first (like fruits), sour and salty taste in the middle, and bitter, astringent and pungent foods should be taken at the end of the meal.
- Method of eating food – One should eat in a moderate pace, not too fast or slow. Eating slow is advised for those who wish weight loss.
In addition to these instructions on how to eat Ayurveda also advises food that can be consumed on a regular basis and those which should be avoided for regular use.
Examples of Incompatibility or antagonistic
|Potency Incompatibility||Fish + Milk|
|Processing Incompatibility||Heated honey|
|Dose Incompatibility||Honey + Ghee in equal proportions|
|Time Incompatibility||pungent substance in summer and cold substances in winter.|
|Order Incompatibility||Consuming curd at night|
|Combination Incompatibility||Fruit salad/milk + Banana|
|Contraindication Incompatibility||consuming cold water immediately after having hot tea or coffee.|
Few more examples of incompatible food practices you follow in your day to day life –
- Without hunger taking heavy meal before going to office, if hungry working on empty stomach and late lunch on 3pm are Agnivirrudha or incompatible to digestive fire.
- Cereal with milk and orange juice –milk contains acid together they curdle with dairy and also destroy the enzyme present in the starchy cereal
- To put simple food high in salt, sugar, fat or high in calories and low nutrient content can be termed as junk food. Food without any nutritional value can be considered incompatible.
- Oil and food must not be reheated, reheating of oil creates more oxidation and if consumed may create more oxidative stress creating more free radicals.
Diseases occurring due to Incompatible foods –
- Skin diseases
- Fever and chills
Virudha Ahara is said to be the cause of many systemic diseases.
A new branch called topography (a science related to combination of food) is emerging, which tells about the combination of basic categories of the food. As per this science proteins must not get combined with starch and carbohydrates and may be consumed differently. This is because starches require an alkali medium and the amylase in saliva contains ptyalin, an enzyme that breaks down starch into maltose.2
In order to prevent these deadly diseases one has to take preliminary steps of taking care of avoiding Incompatible diet.
- Sabnis M. (2012). Viruddha Ahara: A critical view. Ayu, 33(3), 332-6.
- Shelton HM. The hygienic system: Orthotrophy, Chap. 26. Dr. Shelton’s Health School. 1935