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Milk has always been known to be the healthiest beverage out there which is filled with calcium to boost our immunity and bone health. But in recent times, the goodness of milk is being questioned in many ways. Some say it has fats and people should have skimmed or almond milk instead. Some say it is highly processed and hence should be avoided. Let’s take a look at what Ayurveda has to say about milk.
Health Shots reached out to Dr Chaitali Deshmukh, an Ayurvedic Consultant with an M.D. in Ayurveda, to know more about milk from the perspective of the ancient medicine system. She says, “Milk has been highly regarded in Ayurveda for its edifying and tonifying properties as well as its capacity to boost Ojas (our essential immunity).”
It is helpful to keep in mind the context of Ayurveda’s roots while discussing milk and dairy products. Long before the invention of synthetic hormones, industrial farms, food production plants, or agribusiness, this nature-based healing technique evolved in ancient India.
The qualities of milk and its effects on the doshas
There are certain parameters to consider to know whether milk is good for us or not. Dairy is a type of food made from mammal milk. Ayurvedic nutrition considers the properties (Gunas) of each food, such as its balance of the six flavours, its energetic effect on the doshas, and its sensation of coldness or heat. The fresher the milk, the more Prana (life power) it can provide us.
Each food is distinct and affects the Doshas, or the three biological energies of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, differently. There are many types of milk, including cow, buffalo, goat, camel, human, elephant, sheep, etc.
Here is an Ayurvedic perspective on some of the widely consumed milks:
1. Cow Milk
Cow’s milk is cold, thick, laxative, and produces mucus. It has a sweet flavor (Rasa), has a calming impact on the digestive tract (Virya), and a sweetening effect over time (Vipaka). “Cow’s milk is highly valued in Ayurveda for relaxing both Vata and Pitta if you warm it and spice it suitably. The milk’s cold heaviness can exacerbate Kapha’s naturally cool nature,” says Dr Deshmukh.
2. Goat Milk
Ayurveda says that Rasa, Virya, and Vipaka for goat’s milk are sweet, cooling, and pungent. It is healthy and energizing like dairy from cows, but it is often lighter and less mucus-forming. The Ayurvedic consultant says it is Tridoshic (balanced for all three Doshas) and that milk is best for Kapha when consumed in moderation. Since goat milk has a mild astringency, it may irritate certain people’s Vata.
3. Sheep Milk
According to Ayurvedic scriptures, it is believed that compared to cow or goat milk, sheep’s milk is more hot in nature. However, it aggravates Pitta and Kapha and calms Vata.
4. Buffalo Milk
The sages advocated buffalo milk because of its sedative properties. “It calms Pitta and Vata while boosting Kapha because it is colder and heavier than cow’s milk. It slows down quick elimination,” says Dr Deshmukh.
So, from the Ayurvedic view point, it is beneficial to consume milk. You just need to choose the one which suits you the best.