World Milk Day 2023: Mistakes One Should Avoid When It Comes To Dairy Products

World Milk Day 2023: Mistakes One Should Avoid When It Comes To Dairy Products

Milk plays a vital role in early development, serving as the first nourishment for the formation of our bodies

Dr Hansaji YogendraUpdated: Saturday, November 25, 2023, 11:40 PM IST
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Milk plays a vital role in early development, serving as the first nourishment for the formation of our bodies. Milk’s presence in our homes is more than just culinary. It's a daily ritual, seamlessly blending cultural heritage and nutritional importance. The calendar itself marks today as a special occasion - National Milk Day - a tribute to the visionary Dr Verghese Kurien, architect of India's White Revolution. Let’s understand some ground rules of milk consumption.

Traditional wisdom

In Ayurveda, milk is regarded as sattvik and nourishing. It has an impact on factors such as Vata, Pitta, Kapha doshas. Cow’s milk stands out as the most sattvik. Milk has grounding and cooling properties. However, some might have digestion challenges or possess dosha-specific concerns.

Ideal time

Milk can be consumed in the morning or in the evening. Having warm milk in the morning can keep you energetic throughout the day. Warm milk before bedtime can calm you and enhance sleep quality. Consuming milk after physical activities is good for muscle recovery. It is best to avoid milk right after meals.

Ideal quantity

The recommended amount of milk varies based on factors such as age, health and dietary needs. Infants should have breast milk, while toddlers should drink two to three cups of whole milk per day. As one progresses into the middle years, a recommended practice is to dilute it 25% with water. In old age, a 50% dilution with water is best.

Incompatible with milk

Ayurveda advises against consuming milk with certain foods, such as sour fruits, fish or salty items. The contrasting digestive properties can lead to discomfort. The sweetness of milk may clash with the acidity of sour fruits, while the varied digestion times and protein requirements of fish and milk can result in digestive imbalances. The saltiness of certain foods can create taste clashes and affect the stomach’s pH balance. In Ayurveda, these combinations are considered incompatible which can generate toxins. 

Who should skip milk

While milk is a valuable source of nutrients, certain people may need to limit or avoid its consumption due to health reasons. Those who have lactose intolerance, milk allergy, or medical conditions like galactosemia or phenylketonuria may consider alternatives for milk. Breast milk is best for infants with such conditions.

Vegan needs

Vegans can obtain essential nutrients from fortified plant-based milk, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and supplements. However, failing to meet nutritional needs may lead to deficiencies impacting bone health, immune function and general health.

Different sources

Apart from cow’s milk, Ayurveda recommends goat’s milk as a more easily digestible option. Sheep’s milk is rich in calcium and essential nutrients whereas camel’s milk is lower in fat and cholesterol. Buffalo’s milk is well-known for its creamy texture. In Himalayan regions, yak’s milk is consumed for its higher fat and protein levels.

A2 milk v/s non-A2 milk

A2 milk is considered more digestible for individuals sensitive to A1 beta-casein found in non-A2 milk. This is because the digestion-related benefits of A2 milk are due to the formation of a smaller bioactive peptide during digestion. While A2 milk is generally more expensive due to specialised breeding and processing. Desi cows, native to the Indian subcontinent, naturally produce A2 milk. However, choosing between A2 and non-A2 milk is a personal preference.

Sip to Thrive

Milk stands as a nutrient-rich source with profound cultural and nutritional significance. Dilution and the addition of herbs enhance its benefits, addressing concerns from orthopaedic health to digestive issues. Ultimately, the informed and balanced inclusion of milk in one’s diet can lead to enhanced well-being.

Beyond basic milk facts

Boiling milk with herbs enhances its benefits. For instance, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, ginger aids digestion, mint offers a refreshing flavour, and lemongrass is known for its calming effects.

Milkshakes are not a good idea because some ingredients can counteract the nutritional benefits of milk.

In case of milk allergies, boiling water with ingredients like root turmeric, ginger, mint or lemongrass and then adding milk can mitigate allergic reactions. This process may alter the composition of proteins in milk, making it more tolerable for those with sensitivities.

Alternatives such as almond, soy, and coconut milk are good because these plant-based options cater to people with lactose intolerance or those seeking dairy-free alternatives.

(Dr Hansaji Yogendra is the director of The Yoga Institute and the author of ‘Sattvik Cooking: Modern Avatars of Vedic Foods’ among other books.)

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