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November 08, 2007


Milk is another food held in high esteem in Ayurveda, but it has fallen out of fashion in this modern world. This is not really surprising considering the way in which we drink milk, when and with what...

First and foremost drink milk hot, not cold. Milky tea for example is great, but a milkshake is very heavy and cold on your digestion, and could waylay even the sturdiest Pita. Add a little cardamom powder to aid digestion and for good taste if you like.

Milk has few real companions, and makes a bad food combination with many of the things we generally eat it with. Milk shouldn't be taken with eggs, meat, beans, yeast or fruit. There goes your classic English breakfast! So try to avoid milk with meals and revive elevenses instead.

And of course milk ain't milk anymore. Milk is one of only three foodstuffs revered as having equal quantities of all three doshas (the other two are black pepper and fish). But that is only raw milk on the day of milking. After that it becomes predominantly Kapha. If you live on a dairy farm you are in luck. The rest of us will have to be vigilant consumers and scan the supermarket shelves for something better then milk powder reconstituted in water with the addition of the latest fad vitamin.

Pasturisation is basically boiling milk, to kill germs and make it last longer, which Ayurveda recommends anyway. Homogenisation on the other hand is a thoroughly modern process born out of our obsession with fat. Basically it breaks up the fat particles so they are suspended in the milk, instead of floating to the top.

The problem with this is it augments the Vata in milk. Put simply, it's like deepfrying, and we all know how bad that is. And there is a theory that the fat particles are so small they can leak straight into your blood stream undigested, causing allergic reactions and ama.

I know of two brands in Australia that have un-homogenated milk, Paul's (parmalat) and Margaret River. Also it is often available at Farmer's Markets.

If you have trouble digesting milk, take a break from it to rest your body, and then consider gently reintroducing milk to your diet in the appropriate ways. Of course this does not apply if you are actually lactose intolerant.

More on milk here.

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