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There are certain food combinations believed to be dangerous to your health, even though the individual foods are healthy. Do you need to worry? In truth, most of these food combinations are avoided in certain cultures as a result of superstition or belief in the practice of Ayurveda. While Ayurveda is a form of ancient science that relies on observation, it also includes a lot of unmeasurable concepts regarding energy and spirit, and is not generally supported by modern science.
Some food combos can cause digestive distress in some people, but pretty much every human is sensitive to certain things. There can be no widespread determination that eating any combination of otherwise healthy food will kill you, but people with sensitive stomachs could be better off avoiding them.
Here are 6 food combination superstitions along with the germ of truth behind them.
01. Milk and Lemon
For starters, after infancy, some people have difficulty digesting milk. And when lemon is added to warm milk, the milk gets curdled. It happens because a protein in milk called casein gets “precipitated” when the acid in lemon juice increases the acidity of the milk. Curdling is the result.
However, the curdling process happens incredibly slowly when lemon is added to cold milk. That’s how we can have and enjoy foods like lemon ice cream and lemon cream pie. Plus, curdled milk isn’t necessarily bad for you. When it happens as a result of spoilage, by all means, stay away. But milk is often intentionally curdled in the process of making cheese and yogurt.
02. Mint in Carbonated Drinks
The story goes that mixing mint into carbonated beverages like soda creates a deadly dose of cyanide. Many memes have circulated with gruesome pictures that encourage people to share this life-saving info with their friends and family. However, the basic assertion is utter nonsense.
Now, you are probably aware that mint and soda does create a fantastic chemical reaction; search up some YouTube videos of Mentos & Coke experiments if not. But there is no cyanide. No one has ever died by consuming mint and carbonated beverages together. The worst you could expect is the longest burp of your life or perhaps projectile vomiting and an associated tummy ache. Cyanide? Nah.
Should you avoid it? This can be a fun science experiment but it may cause some discomfort. If you love the flavor of mint in soda, there are various brands available to purchase or you can make it at home. Simply use mint-infused simple syrup rather than straight mint.
04. Bananas and milk/fruit and yogurt
Continuing the negative reporting about fruit, Ayurveda says that the combination of bananas and milk “confuses” the digestive system, causing it to release toxins. The fact that a banana tastes sweet but becomes sour upon digestion, while milk becomes sweeter in the stomach, is the purported issue. However, there is no scientific evidence that your stomach is confused by any food combination.
Ayurveda also says that sour food and dairy together diminishes “digestive fire,” whatever that is, so yogurt in general is out. Ayurveda additionally suggests that yogurt changes intestinal flora – which is true – and leads to the development of toxins that spark cold, cough, and allergies – which is not (unless, of course, you are legitimately allergic to dairy).
The probiotics in yogurt are good bacteria that aid digestion. And fruit, once again, will not slow digestion to the point of fermentation in combination with yogurt or any other food.
Should you avoid it? Skip these combos if you are allergic to any of the individual elements, but don’t worry about digestive confusion, new allergies, or the risk of making wine in your stomach.
05. Fish and Dairy
Some folks are convinced that eating fish with any kind of dairy product gives rise to a skin condition called vitiligo, which causes pale patches to appear on the skin. This is the condition that Michael Jackson used to explain is his ever-lightening complexion.
Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin begin to die, and doctors aren’t sure what exactly causes this. However, it is much more likely related to immune system failure, a trigger event like serious sunburn, or to genetics than to food. There is zero scientific evidence that points to fish and dairy as troublesome together.
Should you avoid it? Dairy is an element in lots of tasty fish dishes; avoid them only if you personally experience digestive discomfort. Vitiligo is extremely unlikely to occur.
06. Tofu and Spinach
The warning against eating tofu and spinach together says that the calcium in tofu will bind with the oxalic acid in spinach and cause calcium oxalate kidney stones. But if that were true, why doesn’t the warning apply to all combinations of food that contain either calcium (almonds, broccoli, dairy, kale) or oxalic acid (beets, rhubarb, endive, kale)? You’ll notice that kale appears on both lists, yet dieticians still highly recommend that you eat it.
The truth is that while calcium and oxalic acid do bond, the calcium is necessary to allow oxalate to pass out of the body. It does not cause retention and therefore this combination cannot be implicated in the formation of kidney stones. If you are prone to them, however, your doctor may recommend that you reduce consumption of foods high in oxalates.
Should you avoid it? No. In fact, eating something high in calcium along with a food containing oxalic acid or oxalate can actually reduce your risk of kidney stones. However, avoid calcium supplements as these can overdose you and have been linked to stone formation.So in the end, the standard advice to eat a richly varied diet holds. You don’t have to worry much about any specific combinations of food, just simply understand what individual foods may bother you. If you are lactose intolerant, stay away from dairy products. If you are allergic to certain kinds of fish or produce, avoid those. But don’t fret about toxic reactions occurring when any two foods are eaten together – your digestive system is totally capable of extracting the best possible nutrition from any meal.