To Milk or not to Milk: The Dairy Question

So much has been and continuous to be written about this topic that the best is to cut the chase and go straight to the point: The milk issue has become a matter of extremisms. On one side, the supporters who see in milk a wholesome food that has been part of our diet for milennia, and, on the opposite side, the detractors, who consider consuming milk some sort of aberration with pernicious side effects for our health.
So, let’s take a look at a summary of the main arguments on both sides:
1-
SUPPORTERS:
– Highly nutritious
– Important source of calcium, choline, potassium, vitamins A and B, and protein
– Nourishes all tissues and is a mild laxative
– Balances emotions
– Promotes Ojas, the essence of life energy which is directly connected to the immune system
– Good quality milk, mixed with the appropriate spices, can be an excellent remedy for sore throats and pharyngitis
(turmeric), insomnia (nutmeg), bronchial congestion (pippali), lymphatic congestion (peppercorn), sexual weakness (ashwaganda), or indigestion (ginger)
2-
DETRACTORS:
– Humans are the only mammals who consume other mammal’s milk or their own as adults
– Dairy protein seems to increase IGF-1 which has been implicated in several cancers
– D-Galactose, a component in milk, has been found to be pro-inflammatory
– Milk has been linked to acne, high cholesterol, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and atherosclerosis
– The dairy industry has made cow’s conditions inhumane
– Large part of the population is lactose intolerant
– Milk is one of the world’s most common food allergens

Ayurveda categorizes milk as sweet in taste, with a cooling energy and a sweet post-digestive effect. This makes milk a great food for air types (Vata) for its nutritional value and calming and grounding properties, and for fire types (Pitta) for its cooling and sweet properties. It is not advisable for earth-water types (Kapha) as milk is the archetypal kapha food and therefore creates imbalance in Kapha individuals.

However, there are a number of factors that need to be met in order for milk to be beneficial to our system:

1- Because of its heaviness and cold energy, milk should never be drank cold. In order to digest it properly, it needs to be gently boiled along with warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, black pepper, or cardamom. Otherwise,milk will cause digestive problems and accumulation of toxins and mucus in the body.
2- When pasteurized, homogenized or under any other treatment (lactose-free, fat-free), milk becomes much more difficult to digest and creates stagnation in the body. Milk should be organic and raw as it used to be before the dairy revolution.
3- Milk should never be mixed with fruits, yogurt, nuts, fish, meat, spicy or salty food, or bitter vegetables as it produces toxins due to poor digestibility. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends us not to drink milk with meals but to use it as a snack (mixed with spices) or mixed with sweet grains to make rice or tapioca pudding, oatmeal, or pancakes.
4- Certain ethnic groups and individuals cannot digest milk properly, which may result in complications for their health (Latin America and Far East Asia are two examples) and therefore should avoid it altogether.

Detractors do have a point when mentioning the horrendous conditions cows have to live in these days and which should not be tolerated. And I think this has a lot to do with intolerance, allergies, and links to various diseases that may be intimately related to the way we process milk and our poor education on how to prepare and combine it with other foods. It is these factors that have made milk an easy to demonize food when it has been a great supporter in human development throughout history.

So, should we drink milk or not? Unfortunately, the milk we are made to consume nowadays does not resemble the model proposed by Ayurveda. So, despite all that has been said and unless you can find wholesome, raw,
organic milk, it is better to avoid it or reduce its consumption drastically. Other types of dairy such as fresh goat cheese, fresh curd, and lassi (not yogurt) can still be taken in moderation if they are coming from an organic source.

Finally, it is important to point out that alternative milks (soy, almond, rice, hemp, etc) may contain a number of
suspicious ingredients (carrageenan, guar gum, xanthan gum, etc) normally used as thickeners that create digestive discomfort in some individuals and are currently being investigated as potential precursors of some cancers. So, is
there any solution whatsoever to making a creamy oatmeal or wetting your morning granola? One answer is to make your own alternative milk, either the traditional way or by purchasing a simple milk maker. Not only will you notice the unique flavor but you will have to drink it fast as they normally go off after only three days in the fridge…the beauties of freshness.

When you let go, you let it happen

Human beings differ from other living creatures in the fact that we take more to learn than any other species, much, much longer. Like the cat that runs away from hot water after being burned, animals only need one
taste of any situation to understand its profound implications. I am not talking about showing your dog a few tricks that evidently come with repetition, I am talking about how to live according to the tacit laws of nature.

Maybe the answer to everything is how much you stick to your personal agenda. As far as I know, we are the only creatures with a personal agenda on this planet. Everything else conforms to the natural flow of nature,
and it shows.

It is customary, as part of his nature, for a human being to set his mind on a certain project or idea and devote his time and resources to make it blossom. So far, so good. However, it is rather painful to watch this
human being trying over and over to always end up getting the same, frustrating result. Intellect wanes while bling determination waxes disproportionately. We lose control, patience, higher vision and engage all our resources towards the consecration of the agenda. And still nothing moves, nothing happens. So, we feverishly continue with our insanity, burning mental health and decimating physical vitality until one day, when exhausted and frustrated we decide to let go.

And then it happens.

It happens because it was time for it to happen, because all in this universe needs a time to grow and mature, because there are lessons to learn in the process, because nature is constantly trying to show us that each moment
is precious and not just those that we appoint as special culminations of some delusional project of grandeur. It happens because in surrendering we accept; we accept what other creatures already know: that there is a higher order, in which we have been appointed as witnesses and not actors as we normally claim. We learn humility, which in turn, shows us that our grandiose ideas are not that important, that they are just another ripple in the endless ocean of consciousness.

And other times it doesn’t happen.

It doesn’t happen because in the great vision, happening would equal to chaos. It doesn’t happen because nature is constantly trying to make us veer into the right path while we insist on driving against traffic. We shut eyes and ears (unfortunately not the mouth) and we tread on towards our own misery.  We don’t even consider an
alternative, fears arise, doubts arise, insecurities arise, and we continue wasting our lives in an impossible project, job, practice, relationship, career, just because we feel comfortable in the known and too afraid to jump into the unknown.

Life is the unknown. Letting go is the unknown. And when you let go, you let it happen. 

Solutions

We are addicted to solutions, we starve for solutions, we live a life that is perennially looking for a solution to some kind of problem that only we seem to care for.

Solutions are invoked as a response to problems. But, what is a problem? Is it our neighbor, relative, client, boss, the weather, life, the Universe trying to make us miserable or is it just a matter of acceptance? Acceptance doesn’t mean surrendering to a state of misery but acknowledging a fact or series of facts that are happening. Period. They don’t really have anything to do with you unless you decide to experience them as if you were the one and only target around.

Acceptance is intimately connected to your true nature, to whom you really are. If you think you are the body, then you will be miserable; if you think you are the mind, then you will be miserable; if you think you are the soul, then you will be miserable. If you patiently and carefully observe, you will find out you are none of them; then, and only then, you will be able to start drawing a line of separation between problems and YOU. And you won’t be so desperate to find solutions.

The solution to any problem is inherent in the problem itself. This means the solution will come even if we don’t do anything (although that might take a long time sometimes). So, next time you have a problem, instead of trying to find a solution as soon as possible, observe the problem carefully for a while. You will notice that it will begin to “blossom” until finally it ripens up allowing you to see your next move. Why does this happen? Because life is an endless play of situations succeeding each other at vertiginous speed, which, as every other thing in the universe, are born, develop and die (or get recycled to be more precise). If we can wait a little bit, we’ll see their fuller form and anticipate their end. Needless to say, patience is your greatest ally and oftentimes the key element we fail to consider in these situations.

All problems are created only by us, when we allow our emotions, feelings, drives, or desires to drive our chariot. If we observe from the vantage point of silence, then it is not a problem but a situation. And the moment we think, feel, ponder, want or wish, then it becomes a problem again. Let’s try this again: if you think you are your emotions, feelings, drives or desires, you will be miserable. If you patiently and carefully observe, you will find out you are none of them.

So, who are you then? Only you can give an accurate answer to that. I guess this could be a good time to start observing…