Ayurveda says nothing heals better than food. And that has always been my approach to healing. One food that I recommend the most is ‘milk’. There are Different types of milk and each one has unique healing properties.
Life begins and sustains on milk!
First on breastmilk and then on animal milk. Milk is one of the most nutritious and healthy foods on earth. It’s a ‘complete diet. That’s why I recommend breast milk to infants and mammalian milk to grown-ups.
The life of a new-born depend on mother’s milk. That’s the only source of nourishment for the initial months of their life. Breast milk contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary for the new baby.
And that makes milk an elixir to life!
In this blog, I am sharing a modern Ayurvedic doctor’s perspective on Different types of milk. Cow milk, camel milk, goat milk, buffalo milk, sheep milk, horse milk and donkey milk.
Also Read: Anti-viral properties of Turmeric Milk
Different types of milk
Ayurvedic studies on milk are not limited to human milk or cow milk. Ayurvedic classics reveal the properties of the milk from eight different mammals. Cow, buffalo, goat, camel, human, sheep, elephant, horse, donkey.
According to Ayurveda, milk is ‘the best of all life-giving substances’. Ayurveda says, milk is beneficial for healthy individuals. Any healthy individual can consume milk. And one who is unable to consume milk is unhealthy according to Ayurveda.
Milk can prevent diseases and enhance longevity. Regular intake of milk helps in pacifying all diseases and delays the process of ageing. It is nourishing and healing, rejuvenating and calming. In fact, haldi doodh is one of the best cures available to man!
Different types of Milk from different mothers
Ayurveda studies the characteristic properties of milk from eight different mothers. Each milk is suitable in different situations. Check out the ancient wisdom and my modern take on different types of milk.
1. Human milk
A mother’s milk is the ‘first choice of food’ for a newborn. It not only satiates their hunger. But also provides all essential elements necessary for growth and development.
That’s why doctors recommend new mothers to breastfeed the newborn at least for the first six months. Mother’s milk is the best nourisher, immunizer and healer.
Breast milk is rich in colostrum, it contains immunoglobulin IgA which immunizes infants. Ayurveda describes the importance of breast milk in Bala Roga (paediatrics). A few drops can heal a few diseases of eyes and nose.
Benefits of breast milk
- Breast milk contains antibodies.
- Increases brain functioning.
- It helps fight virus and bacteria.
- Lowers the baby’s risk of asthma, allergies and infections.
- Reduces respiratory illnesses.
- Lowers the lifetime risk of diabetes, obesity and cancers.
Also Read: How to stop breast feeding your toddler?
2. Cow Milk
The holy Cows and the sacred cow milk hold such a special place in Vedic lore.
Lord Krishna is fondly called as ‘Makhan chor’ in Hindu mythology. This symbolizes his love for milk and milk products. Mythology says that Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda is born by churning of the ocean of milk. Lord Shiva is bathed in milk as its considered as a sacred purifying element.
Apart from the purifying, preventive and promotive properties, cow milk is also highly curative. Cow’s milk processed with medicinal herbs can cure several disorders of the body. It promotes immunity, strength and energy.
Charaka refers to the use of cow milk in treating Tuberculosis, asthma, diabetes, food allergies, cough, protein deficiency, sexual vigour, hair fall, weakness of bones. It also helps in increasing appetite, digestion and stomachic.
Benefits of cow milk
- Rich in calcium and potassium
- Contains B vitamins
- Good for bones, teeth and muscles
- Improves brain health
- Promotes heart health
- Supports growth and development
Also Read: Health Benefits of Saffron Milk
3. Goat Milk
It is the closest to human milk. Hence, it is often referred to as the best substitute for mother’s milk. Since ancient times, it is given to the baby when the mother’s milk is insufficient.
Have you heard of the famous A2 milk in modern times?
Cow milk contains both A1 and A2 protein, whereas goat milk and goat milk products have A2 casein. A2 milk is easier to digest, causes no intolerance and is a better option for many.
Goat milk is a rich source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, iron, and other essential nutrients. It contains antibodies and has anti-inflammatory properties. But the best part is that it’s easier to digest and absorb than cow milk.
Benefits of goat milk
- High calcium content strengthens bones and teeth.
- Provides energy to a growing child.
- Controls gut inflammation
- Improves platelet count in the blood
- Natural cure for jaundice as well.
- Goat milk is a great choice for babies and people with poor digestion, as it doesn’t cause any gastric, acidity or constipation issue.
4. Camel Milk
This is widely popular among those who cannot have cow’s milk. Camel milk is the closest to human milk that’s been used for centuries as a medicinal drink. It’s low in sugar and cholesterol, rich in minerals (sodium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc and magnesium, and vitamin C).
Camel milk is a good nutritional source, safe for children. It is an ideal source of nutrition in the deserts of Rajasthan to prevent salt depletion. Unlike most varieties of milk, it’s a little salty in taste.
According to Ayurveda, camel milk is proven to cure diseases like oedema, dropsy, asthma and poisoning. It is also effective against tuberculosis, leprosy, cancer, piles, intestinal worms, skin lesions, abdominal tumours.
Benefits of camel milk
- It is a laxative.
- Easily digestive and stomachic.
- It is effective in treating autism.
- Promoting the body’s natural defences.
- Improves general well-being
5. Donkey Milk
A rare breed of milk these days, but donkey milk was popular in ancient times. When man and animal lived in close association, people used to feed on donkey milk. Its composition is quite similar to human milk.
In some parts of Tamil Nadu, there is a tradition of drinking donkey milk. It is said to be ‘zakhavatahara’ which is thought to prevent aches and pains in the joints.
Today, there is a growing interest and evidence about the use of donkey milk. It has great tolerability and palatability. Donkey milk can be given to infants too. Clinical studies prove that donkey’s milk is well tolerated in 82.6%-88% of infants. It has nutraceutical and functional properties.
Benefits of donkey milk
- Supports immunity
- Boosts metabolism
- Easy to digest
- Treats debility and urine disorder
- Decreases phlegm
- Modifies gut microbiota
- Intestinal absorption of calcium
- Increases bone mineralization
6. Buffalo Milk
People oft for buffalo milk when cow milk is not available. It contains 10-11 per cent more protein than cow milk. Due to high protein content, buffalo milk is not recommended for infants. It can be given to infants over the age of 6 months.
Buffalo milk is highly nutritional. It is richer in calcium and protein but is low in cholesterol and sodium than cow’s milk. Buffalo milk is a good source of minerals like magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It contains much higher Vitamin A content than cow’s milk.
Benefits of buffalo milk
- Easily digestible and stomachic
- Good for heart health.
- Great source of protein
- Good for skin health
- Regulates blood pressure and prevents artillery damage.
- It prevents bone-related ailments like osteoporosis and arthritis.
7. Elephant Milk
This is rarely used by humans but Ayurveda reveals that it’s very good for eye diseases and vision. It contains large amounts of glucosamine. Elephant milk has a tint of sweet taste. The astringent and muscle builder properties increase vigour and strength.
What’s the right way to drink milk?
Milk should not be consumed cold as cold milk is extremely heavy and mucus-forming. It should neither be over-boiled as that can lead to weight gain. Milk should be boiled and consumed lukewarm.
It should never be combined with sour substances or with salt. It works like a poison. Thus, paneer which is so commonly used, may not be that healthy. In some people, paneer can cause loss of vigour, strength, memory, sense perceptions etc. These problems occur with the continued improper use of milk over a period of time.
However, healthy people with good digestive capacity may not be impacted.
When to drink milk?
Milk is a good meal at any time of the day. It’s a good complementary to the breakfast, can be taken at mid-day as a source of energy and even in the latter part of the day.
But one should not drink milk late at night after dinner as it is difficult to digest. If it is to be consumed at night then there should be a good gap between dinner and milk consumption.
How to feed milk to your kid?
Not everyone is fond of milk, but everyone needs it. While you might already know some of these, a few might be fresh from an Ayurvedic doctor’s books:
- Offer turmeric milk as the new latte.
- Try milkshakes with less sugar and more sugary fruits.
- Make milk a whole family ritual.
- Show them rather than tell them. Drink milk along with them, it’s a healthy drink for the family.
- Prepare oats, cornflakes or other delicious breakfasts using milk.
- You can add chocolates to give it a different colour and flavour.
- Don’t give a big cup at once. Reduce the quantity and increase the frequency.
Can milk make you fat?
Anything when taken in regulated amount and the right way does not cause harm to the body. Milk taken without sugar and high water does not cause weight gain. But if you drink highly condensed or overly boiled milk with added sugar then it can cause weight gain.
Who should not drink milk?
People suffering from certain conditions like fevers, weak digestion, some skin conditions, cough, loose bowel movements and intestinal worms should avoid milk. Also, people with lactose intolerance or indigestion should avoid cow’s milk.
Different Types of Milk: Ayurvedic Doctor’s Take
The simple white liquid available in every house is no less than an elixir. And there is more than one reason to drink it. But with so many Different types of milk which one is best for you!
For all the fitness enthusiasts, it contains whey protein! It is the secret to immunity, strength and endurance, for the growing children. For adults, it is the secret to healthy skin, delayed ageing and onset of age-related diseases. For the elderly, milk is a curative and preventive that helps prevent many age-related diseases.
So, no matter what’s your age, milk is for everyone!