Milk has always been known as the healthiest drink, full of calcium to boost our immunity and bone health. But recently, the goodness of milk has been questioned in several ways. Some say it contains fat and people should eat skim or almond milk instead. Some say it is heavily processed and should therefore be avoided. Let’s see what Ayurveda says about milk.
Health Shots reached out to Dr. Chaitali Deshmukh, an Ayurvedic consultant with an MD in Ayurveda, to learn more about milk from the perspective of an ancient medical system. He says, “Milk has been highly valued in Ayurveda for its educative and tonic properties and its ability to strengthen Ojas (our essential immunity).”
It is helpful to keep the context of Ayurvedic roots in mind during the discussion milk and dairy products. Long before the invention of synthetic hormones, factory farms, food processing plants or agribusiness, this natural healing technique was developed in ancient India.
Milk quality and its effects on doshas
In order to know whether milk is good for us or not, we need to consider certain parameters. Dairy products are a type of food made from the milk of mammals. Ayurvedic diet it considers the qualities (gunas) of each food, such as the balance of the six tastes, its energetic effect on the doshas, and its sensation of coldness or warmth. The fresher the milk, the more prana (life force) it can provide us.
Each food is different and has a different effect on the doshas or the three biological energies of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. There are many types of milk including cow, buffalo, goat, camel, human, elephant, sheep, etc.
Here is an Ayurvedic take on some commonly consumed milks:
1. Cow’s milk
cow’s milk it is cold, thick, draining and produces mucus. It has a sweet taste (Rasa), has a soothing effect on the digestive tract (Virya) and eventually sweetens (Vipaka). “Cow’s milk is highly valued in Ayurveda for releasing Vata and Pitta, if you heat it and season it properly. The cold weight of milk can aggravate Kapha’s naturally cold nature,” says Dr. Deshmukh.
2. Goat’s milk
Ayurveda says that Rasa, Virya and Vipaka for goat’s milk are sweet, cooling and pungent. It’s as healthy and energizing as cow’s milk, but it’s often lighter and less mucusy. An Ayurvedic consultant says that it is tridoshic (balanced for all three doshas) and milk is best for kapha when consumed in moderation. From Goat’s milk has a mild astringency, may irritate Vata in some people.
3. Sheep’s milk
According to Ayurvedic scriptures, sheep’s milk is believed to be more pungent in nature compared to cow’s or goat’s milk. However, it aggravates Pitta and Kapha and pacifies Vata.
4. Buffalo milk
The sages advocated buffalo milk for its soothing properties. “It calms Pitta and Vata while strengthening Kapha because it is cooler and heavier than cow’s milk. It slows down rapid elimination,” says Dr. Deshmukh.
From an Ayurvedic point of view, therefore, consumption of milk is beneficial. You just have to choose the one that suits you best.