We are all affected by stress. We may not be running from wild beasts regularly but the pernicious aspects of stress are everywhere. Modern-day stress can be related to the concept of chintta, translated as over-worked mind or worry. Even in the relatively calm environment of India hundreds of years ago the grinding effects of stress, mental-overwork and uncertainty were blamed for weak digestion, convulsions, paralysis, tremors (Parkinson's), anemia, heart problems, skin dryness, sexual and reproductive weakness and, worst of all, the diminished ability to love (and feel love!).
So what can we do to balance it's effects?! One of the easiest (and most delicious) ways is a cup of warm milk daily. Milk's soft, cool, soothing, Sattva (calm centering) inducing, and Ojas (vitality)- supporting qualities directly counter the corrosive effects of stress. Think of the deep calm seen in the eyes of a happy cow!
Milk is a precious food. But some special guidelines are required for healthy use, to preserve your digestive vigor, and even correct a developing milk intolerance so that you can benefit from it's many gifts:
- Fresh, organic, unpasteurized, un-homogenized whole milk is best. Organic aw milk is usually the best we can get (unless you have a neighbor with a Jersey). All commercial processes denature milk and make it more difficult to digest. Avoid ultra-pasteurization like the plague it is.
- Drink milk warm, after simmering. Raw milk is harder to digest and has more lactose (which some people have issues with). You can add water to your milk when boiling to make it lighter to digest.
- Add a pinch of ginger, clove, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. These spices give your Agni (digestive fire) the extra umph it needs to digest efficiently.
- Let milk be a meal by itself or a between-meal snack:
- A cup of warm spiced milk is a great breakfast for people who are not too hungry in the morning.
- When it is too late for dinner but you don't want to go to bed hungry have a cup of hot milk with nutmeg or a few strands of saffron for a restful nights sleep.
- Milk and food combining:
- Avoid milk with salt. Ayurveda says this is a very damaging food combination. This means cooking with milk, cheese, yogurt etc should be avoided (see below for exceptions). Don't add salt to your oatmeal if you have it with cream. Cream soups are out, and cream cheese bagels are asking for trouble.
- Avoid fish and milk as is compromises blood and brain tissues. Alas Cullen Skink & Finnian Haddie are not Ayurvedically appropriate.
- Avoid milk with anything sour. This is why fruit and milk combinations are problematic for many.
- Have milk with grains: cream on oatmeal or farina, rice pudding, cocoa thickened with barley flour are delicious, properly food-combined occasional treats.