Bad Romance

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Now here’s a personal question: Do you frequently suffer from bloating, gas and other digestion-related problems? It is possible that it’s not you, it’s the palak paneer. Eaten in certain combinations, these foods can get up to all kinds of mischief. Samreen Samad identifies the guilty couples

Cultures determine food pairings and some are clear winners. Milk with dates, rice with coconut, and yoghurt with pulses complement each other perfectly and together they bump up the overall nutrition quotient of the meal. But not everything culture—or taste—dictates actually works for your body. Combinations like cottage cheese and spinach, beans and cheese, and yogurt and fruits, used commonly in Mexican and Indian cooking, can get in the way of efficient digestion. Scan our list of culprits to zero in on what’s making you feel less than perfect after a meal.

MANGO AND CUCUMBER
The king of fruits, mango is a staple during summer and cucumber is known for its cooling properties. But together they just don’t work. Suman Agarwal, nutritionist, Selfcare, Mumbai, says, “Mango being a fruit and cucumber being a vegetable require different digestive enzymes that tend to neutralise each other. In this process, they can cause gas and bloating.” As long as they’re not part of the same meal, you can enjoy both this season.

DAIRY PRODUCTS AND SPINACH
Does the thought of palak paneer make your mouth water? But, to get the benefits of spinach and cottage cheese, it’s best to eat them separately. Dairy products like cottage cheese are rich in calcium. But when dairy products are combined with spinach or had in the same meal, they lose their calcium properties. Suman says, “Spinach contains oxalic acid that prevents the body from absorbing calcium.” Next time try pairing spinach with lentils and mushroom, and cottage cheese with peas.

MILK AND PULSES
Baked beans with cereal and milk—this breakfast staple is not your friend. Digestion of milk takes place in the duodenum and not in the stomach. Milk is a complete and concentrated form of food that requires a digestion process of its own kind. Pulses, on the other hand, contain oligosaccharide, a type of sugar molecule that is difficult to digest. So eaten together, these two can really slow things down. Suman says, “When milk is combined with pulses it hampers the digestion procedure and can lead to gas.” Switch milk with yoghurt for a serving of gut-friendly probiotics that help break down food properly.

YOGURT AND SOUR FRUITS
Frozen yogurt brands are cashing in on flavours that enhance taste but while yogurt and fruits are both healthy in their own way, they don’t work as a team. Manisha Arora, head nutritionist, Three Graces, Delhi, says, “Combining sour fruits like kiwi and orange with yogurt diminishes the digestive fire in the gut.” To combat this, mix sour fruits with yogurt at room temperature and add a dash of cinnamon or honey to add warmth and keep your digestive system working like it should.

MILK AND ANTIBIOTICS
Taking antibiotics along with a glass of milk is a common practice, but not a good idea. Manisha explains, “For antibiotics to be effective they must be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and make their way into the blood stream. Dairy products are rich in calcium that binds with the antibiotic and prevents its absorption in the gut, making the medicine ineffective.” A probiotic formulation like yogurt can help an antibiotic along and make up for the loss of good bacteria in the gut, which are usually killed by the drug.

BEANS AND CHEESE
Baked beans and cheese make the perfect filling for your burrito, but protein-rich foods can slow down the digestion and deplete the body’s energy. Taranjeet explains, “Your body only absorbs amino acids from the protein at the lowest quantity when taken, while the rest of the protein ingested gets wasted, resulting in more toxins and acidity. Acid in the body can cause loss of bone mass and weakening of the immune system.” Manisha further explains that cheese is cold and a protein-heavy food, whereas beans are warm and are a mix of carbohydrates and protein, making it difficult for the digestive enzymes to perform properly. Result: bloating and sluggishness.

FIZZY DRINKS WITH FOOD
Fizzy drinks are notorious for their sugar content and having them with your meals can severely hamper your food from digesting. Taranjeet Kaur, senior nutritionist, Aktiv Ortho, Delhi, says, “Carbonated drinks shock the digestive system, slowing down the digestive process and causing gas and bloating.” Replace your fizzy drinks with buttermilk or coconut water at meal times.

LIME AND COUGH SYRUP

LIME JUICE AND HONEY IS A COMMON HOME REMEDY USED TO SOOTHE A SORE THROAT. BUT SUMAN SAYS, “MOST COUGH SYRUP FORMULATIONS INDUCE DROWSINESS. WHEN THEY ARE MIXED WITH LIME THEY CAN CREATE AN EFFECT OF INEBRIATION.”

MILK AND SPICY FOOD
Milk works better than water to offset the hotness of chillies, caused by a compound called capsaicin. Milk contains casein, which binds with capsaicin to reduce the burning sensation in the mouth. But, in the bargain, it can cause severe acidity as milk creates excessive secretion of acid, especially on a full stomach or after spicy food. People who suffer from acidity should, ideally, stay off spicy food or help themselves to curd instead to avoid further damage.

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