According to Ayurveda, inability to digest milk or dairy products is a sign of compromised digestion. It’s an indication that you may not be producing enough lactase or hydrochloric acid to break down casein proteins. The digestion might be compromised due to factors like stress, lack of routine, excess travel, excess intake of stimulants like coffee, chilli or by eating stale or heavily processed food.
Poorly digested or undigested food is the root cause of all diseases according to ayurveda. Eliminating foods which cause this can be key to healing yourself. Taking a break or quitting intake of dairy products to solve lactose intolerance can give your digestion and metabolism a boost. However, for people who want to continue eating dairy, Ayurveda has some simple solutions to increase your lactose tolerance.
All dairy products must be consumed with only certain foods. They must never be combined with fresh fruit or fish. Cold milk is considered poison while warm milk is considered as a healing nectar in Ayurveda. Today, most dairy is served cold making it harder to digest. Apart from ghee, all other dairy products are considered to be heavy and difficult to digest. But, they are highly revered for their deeply nourishing quality and their ability to provide peace of mind, especially cow’s milk (as it is considered sattvic). Not all physical constitutions benefit from dairy.
.Vata( Air/Ether) and Pitta (Fire/Water) constitutions can benefit from consuming dairy products. It’s also considered nectar for Pitta body types, especially yogurt which can cool the body in summer or during intense physical activities.
.Kapha (Water/Earth) constitutions must avoid dairy products as its poison for them. Most kapha body types will be naturally intolerant to milk- it may cause constipation, sinus issues, headaches and other digestive issues.
Dairy products can be made easier to digest by following these methods:
1. Milk -Milk must be mixed in equal quantities of water. It must be boiled along with digestion promoting spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger or cloves and consumed warm.
2. Butter – Butter must be clarified in to ghee form. Ghee is sweeter and lighter in cooking and also encourages digestion. It is also more stable, lactose-free and suitable for all physical constitutions.
3. Cheese – Cheese must be consumed with digestive anti-dotes like black pepper to negate its mucous-forming effects. Young white cheese like ricotta, feta or paneer are better than hard yellow cheeses as they are easier and lighter to digest.
4. Yogurt – Yogurt congests the nasal channels, hence it’s better to consume it as warm buttermilk or as a light lassi. (Lassi is prepared by blending water and spices)
5. Cream and Ice-Cream – Cream or Ice-Cream must be generally avoided by everyone as they are heavy and difficult to digest. If you’re going to eat them, it’s best to eat them in-between meals or on their own. It should be followed by drinking a warm ginger tea.
Increasing tolerance to lactose – Start by drinking 1 tbsp. of milk every day, building up to 1 glass over a six week time period. It’s best to use, non-homogenized, vat pasteurized milk which is easier to digest.