Since Ayurveda originated in India, westerners and people not exposed to this science, consider it to be propagating Indian food, herbs and spices. Nothing can be far from the truth as Ayurveda encompasses the essence of food and its significance in keeping the dhatus and chakras in a balanced healthy state. These principles apply to any food and when eaten in accordance with your constitution or prakriti (Dosha), season, time of day, and in the right combination and proportion, allow all nutrients from the food to be absorbed and assimilated by the body.
Ayurveda and Milk:
While the prevalent conventional medical science view is divided on the merits of milk, the Ayurvedic view of dairy products is quite different. Cow’s milk is considered sacred food that does not have the energy of violence, unlike other animal products which are dulling for the mind.
Ayurveda considers whole milk an integral part of diet for maintaining health, promoting longevity and spiritual growth. The ancient Ayurvedic manuscript, Astang Sangraha, details the qualities and milk and milk products in the section Ksheer Varga. As a general tonic for all ages, rejuvenator for recuperating patients, milk is one of the few foods that nourishes all seven body tissues (dhatus).
Medicinal properties of Milk and Milk products:
Milk (Non-pasteurized Cow’s Milk):
- Has a sweet taste (rasa).
- It increases the ojas (also called the “fluid of life”), the essence of all the dhatus (tissues).
- Useful for decreasing raised vata and pitta levels. But also increases kapha making it “heavy” to digest.
- Is considered to be an aphrodisiac (vrishya ) strengthening the shukra dhatu (reproductive tissue).
- Cooling effect (shita virya) on the body.
Yogurt (Fresh Homemade):
- Sour in taste.
- Its binding quality (grahi) assists in curing diarrhea and dysentery.
- “Heavy” on the digestive system and heating in nature.
- Useful in decreasing vata, but increases kapha and pitta.
- Supports the blood (rakta dhatu) and reproductive tissues (shukra dhatu).
Butter (Fresh Homemade):
- Tastes sweet, and also a little sour and bitter.
- Controls pitta, and vata imbalances.
- Its binding quality (grahi) can lead to blockages in the circulatory channels (srotas).
- Improves memory, immunity, and strengthens reproductive fluid(shukra dhatu).
Ghee (Homemade clarified Butter):
- Positive influence on mind, intelligence, and memory.
- Triggers digestive fire.
- Nourishes all body tissues (dhatus) and ojas (energy vital fluid).
- Controls vata and pitta imbalances.
Ayurveda bases the above attributes only to cow’s milk. Considering the industrialized mass milk production where hormones, antibiotics, pasteurizing, homogenizing, and long – term refrigeration, are common norms, expecting these qualities to still remain is futile.
Tips to get the best out of milk and milk products:
– Consume organic RAW whole milk from cattle bred cows raised under gentle conditions. If it is unavailable try non homogenized milk or options like dried whole milk and condensed sweetened milk instead of avoiding milk completely.
– Boiling milk helps change the enzyme structure making it easily digestible. Drink warm milk (with nutmeg) for its sedative properties and avoid cold milk as it is increases toxicity and mucus forming qualities.
– Don’t buy low fat milk as it is hard to digest. Instead add water to whole milk to decrease the fat content of your milk, keeping it digestible.
– Use spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to increase milk’s digestibility and for the great taste.
– Ideally consume milk as a meal by itself or combine it with whole grains.
– Avoid combining milk with sour fruits and berries, bananas, melons, eggs, bread with yeast, beans, nuts, fish, meat, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, radish, and yogurt.
– Do not eat warm yogurt and avoid eating too much yogurt in spring and winter.
– Yogurt should never be eaten at night or for dinner. – Don’t eat yogurt everyday as it blocks the circulatory channels (srotas).
– Yogurt is heavy and mucus forming and also promotes weight gain and combines poorly with fruits and nuts.