not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ayurveda De-Bunked : MILK

Ayurveda really pushes MILK. And right now I feel like there is a lot of controversy around dairy in our diets, so today - I took advantage of the cold rainy day here in Rishikesh and settled into the internet cafe to do some research about questions that I've been having. The first is about MILK:

"Modern Ayurveda scientists maintain that western researches have found milk harmful more because of their mode of intake. If taken cold, unspiced, homogenized, combined with unsuitable foods and in will definitely be bad for health. The secret to milk being a healthy food lies in the way it is consumed, prepared and stored.

To start with, Ayurveda recommends raw (never pasteurized or homogenized) milk. Boiling it before serving is also a must, because it denatures the protein in milk, making it easily digestible since it is broken into amino acids. The addition of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and black pepper can also help balance its cooling qualities.

Ayurveda maintains that while pasteurization does cleanse milk of the bacteria it starts out with, the process does nothing to offer by way of making milk more digestible, nor does it actually do away with the risk of potential contamination in other ways. Under the circumstances, modern processing of milk only takes away from it, making it more harmful that healthy. Unless milk is boiled well, anything at a lower temperature only serves to cause the partial breakdown of milk proteins, making them almost impossible to digest cleanly for the human system. Homogenization also does nothing to enhance the healthy properties of milk. This may lead to tendencies towards arteriosclerotic clots, causing severe heart problems. Then milk is blamed for it...when actually it is the processing that milk undergoes that is to be blamed.

Homogenization only serves to make it easier to pack, store and retail. So, the process has utility for the organizations that want to make profit by retailing milk, and it obviously overlooks the health issues. If these are the only objectives of processing and selling milk, obviously consuming a healthy food is not a priority. We can safely say that the cow's milk whose virtues were extolled by ancient sages and seers, and who pronounced it the complete food, is not the same milk that we are getting to consume today, so it will not have the same properties, nor the benefits.

Hence in this ancient Indian science, milk should not be tampered with, preferably boiled with spices, and not stored for too long.

Besides, Ayurveda recommends goats milk over cow's milk, since it is less mucus forming and easier to digest than cow's milk, also has much less tendencies to forming allergens than cow milk does. It is actually useful for calming and healing the stomach chemicals. It is rivaled in Ayurveda only by buffalo milk, especially for its excellent calming abilities.

Ayurveda recommends consumption of milk, if one really wishes to, in specific forms. One good idea is to boil milk with a half teaspoon of grated nutmeg, or 2 teaspoons of clarified butter (ghee) and one teaspoon of coriander powder. Another option is to boil a cup of milk and a cup of water with a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger and three or four cardamoms then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir with half a teaspoon of ghee just before drinking (drink while still warm). This drink will induce a calm sleep and help in digestion too."

So, YES, milk - when consumed the way that we do in the US - is bad for us! Yes, milk is super healthy for you if you are consuming it properly: spiced, warmed, and not tampered with (pasteurized and homogenized).

*Breaking down MILK:

Milk is a combination of fats, proteins, and water. When raw milk is left to stand for any length of time, the fat molecules typically float to the top. This creates a layer of cream that many farmers and raw milk aficionados use as a measure of the milk's quality: the thicker the cream, the better the milk. Many find the separation distasteful, however, if not an impediment to actually drinking the liquid.

*Why Homogenized?

Homogenized milk is any sort of milk that has been mechanically treated to ensure that it has a smooth, even consistency. The homogenization process typically involves high temperatures, agitation, and filtration, all aimed at breaking down milk's naturally occurring fat molecules. Once broken, these molecules stay suspended in the milk and resist separation. The process makes fat filtration much easier for manufacturers, and lengthens milk's shelf life.

Customer preference is usually only one of the reasons dairy farmers and manufacturers homogenize their milk. On larger farms, this process allows milk from many different herds to be blended together more easily. Simply combining milk from two cows or goats into a single container doesn't always produce a uniform result. Milks with different chemical make-ups often do not blend well, and the liquid may separate and doesn't always taste the same. When homogenized, however, even very different batches can form one unified whole.

Homogenized milk also has a longer shelf life because the cream cannot rise to the top and clump together; this allows it to be transported over greater distances. Large-scale dairies often find this to be an advantage, as it means they can do business with buyers in more places. Consumers, too, often appreciate longer-lasting milk. Homogenized milk will often last for a week or more once opened, whereas separated milk must usually be consumed within a few days.

*Homogenized vs Pasteurized:

Homogenization has nothing to do with safety, but is usually driven by aesthetics and taste preferences. It is entirely possible to have milk that has been homogenized but not pasteurized, or pasteurized but not homogenized. If both processes are to be performed, however, homogenization typically comes last, since the heat of the pasteurization tends to make the fat breakdown easier.

Most milk products sold in grocery stores in the United States are both pasteurized and homogenized. Though these terms tend to go together, they represent very different processes. In pasteurization, milk is heated to very high temperatures, then rapidly cooled in order to kill off microbial growth. Pasteurization tends to alter the taste of milk, but is considered by many to be essential in ensuring that the milk is safe for people to drink.

*Just a tid-bit:

Use of hormones and antibiotics, pasteurizing, homogenizing, and long – term refrigeration of milk changes the enzyme structure in a way that makes it almost impossible to digest. Low – fat milk products can’t be digested and have been linked to a number of different diseases. Poorly prepared dairy products from badly treated cows taken cold and in bad combinations at the wrong time increase mucus in the system and promote food and sinus allergies and candida.

It is not milk that questionable, but the way we receive or drink it. Here are some rules:

- Buy organic RAW whole milk from cows raised under gentle conditions.

- Boil it immediately, let it cool, and refrigerate. Boiling changes the enzyme structure to make the milk more digestible.

- If you believe you need low fat milk simply add as much water to the whole milk as you desire. It will decrease the fat content of your milk by keeping it digestible. Just remember that milk must have at least 2% fat for the gallbladder to release the bile needed for its assimilation.

- Milk should be taken warm, not cold as it increases its mucus forming properties and encourages the formation of toxins.

- Boiling milk with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves makes milk even easier to digest. Milk is usually best taken alone or as a meal by itself. You can also combine it with whole grains.

- Dairy products do not combine well with sour fruits and berries, bananas, melons, eggs, bread with yeast, beans, nuts, fish, meat, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, radish, and yogurt. Melon, yogurt, and banana with milk are the most difficult combinations.

- If you don’t have access to raw and/or organic milk choose the milk with the shortest storage term and not homogenized. Using dried whole milk and condensed sweetened milk is better than not drinking milk at all.

- Yogurt as it is known here is heavy and mucus forming and also promotes weight gain, not the weight loss it is thought to promote. Yogurt combines poorly with fruits and nuts. Lassi – the Indian variety of yogurt has the opposite qualities and not only tastes great but promotes better digestion when taken after meals

I hope that this offers up some insight to those that are confused about whether or not milk is benefiting our health!

1 comment:

  1. rock on brotha! buy a share of a cow from a local dairy-farming friend and then you get your own fresh raw milk every day of the week with minimal work and a bit of money. yeehaw!