Milk has almost become a drink from the past. Most people in the west have become intolerant to animal’s milk and experience diarrhoea, skin allergies, indigestion or nausea. This is often due to modern production methods and our weakness of our digestive systems. In Ayurveda, however, milk is known to have valuable health properties but it is essential to prepare it in the right way.
Here are some frequently asked questions about milk :
Is milk good for you ?
Cow’s milk is considered very nourishing to all our tissues (dhatus) and helps in building up our immunity (ojas). Milk from ethical sources is Sattvic in nature, meaning that it is calming, purifying and nourishing to the body and mind.
Heavy, it is grounding, sedative and facilitate the elimination process (laxative).
Finally milk is cooling, which helps reduce overall body heat.
Milk is recommended in condition such as vata and pitta aggravation, emaciation, constipation, loss of sexual drive, infertility, stress, anxiety and insomnia.
It is to be avoided in cold, cough, presence of mucus, toxins, yeast or parasites in the gut, weight gain and other general kapha imbalances.
Not all milk is equal
Milk contains a natural protein called Casein.
Many people have difficulty with the Alpha S1 casein found in cow milk and contract allergic reacrions as a result.
Studies have shown that goat milk is very low in Alpha S1 casein and primarily contains Alpha S2 casein which is more digestible for most individuals
How to drink milk?
Ayurveda suggest drinking milk with spices – such as turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom etc. – to help with digestibility.
Milk is best taken separate from meals and before bedtime.
Drinking milk warm and diluted with a little water also help making it more digestible.
Preferring fresh, raw, non homogenised and organic milk is recommended to get all the benefits from milk and avoid adverse reactions.
Ayurvedic texts mention various incompatible food combinations that will promote formation of toxins in the gut. These food incompatibility should be avoided at all cost. Below are food incompatibilities related to milk – these does not apply to plant based milk:
- Fish and milk
- Anything sour with milk. Just try pour lemon in your milk and watch the result.
- Salt with milk
- Cheese and milk
- Never with fruits especially bananas so milkshakes are a big no no!
Can everyone drink milk?
It is essential to consider ones digestive strength (agni) and constitution (dosha) when deciding whether to consume milk or not. If the digestive strength is too strong (tikshna) or too weak (manda) milk will not be digested properly and this may create adverse reactions.
Similarly if a person’s constitution is kapha for example – heavy foods – such as milk – are to be avoided.
Also if an individual’s is not accustomed to drinking milk from it’s cultural background – for instance some parts of Asia – then it is not recommended to start drinking milk.
How can I make milk easier to digest ?
1. Check that milk is suited to your constitution and choose the right milk
2. Drinking milk at the right time of the day.
3. Drink milk according to food combining principles.
4. Prepare milk in a way that makes it easier to digest by adding spices and warming it up (see below recipes)
What are Milk based Ayurvedic recipes
- Warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg or turmeric for sound sleep
- Milk with dates & almonds to nourish the reproductive system
- Warm milk with 1-2 tsp ghee before bed to relieve constipation
These recipes are best suited to vata/pitta constitution. Kapha avoid.
Please consult your qualified ayurveda practitioner or doctor for a personalised treatment and correct dosage according to constitution and imbalance.