Milk! It doesn’t always evoke pleasant memories, does it? As children, that glass of milk was always part of the breakfast menu. It had to be downed before mum would frown, as it was a ‘necessary’ part of our diet. But once coffee or tea takes over the spot of the morning beverage for many of us, milk gets relegated to the background.
So why is it that milk must be part of our childhood, but not our adult diet? It is presumed that milk can be replaced by other dairy products and vitamins to get the equivalent benefits. However, drinking milk has very specific benefits that are difficult to be replaced. Milk can play its part in keeping you healthy whether you’re five or 75! Let’s take a closer look at what makes milk so special.
It’s a well-known fact that milk is an excellent source of calcium. And this is essential for the growth and proper development of strong bone structure. If you want strong bones, mum was right - you should have a glass of milk every day.
Milk provides that extra armour required to fight tooth decay, and protects those pearly whites against acidic substances. So when downing that cola, remember: it’s milk that protects the enamel against the fizzy attack!
Considered one of the best ‘muscle’ foods in the world, milk is an excellent protein to consume after a workout. With 80% whey and 20% casein (both of which are high quality proteins), milk helps build muscle.
According to one research study, drinking milk regularly can help one lose weight. Apart from calcium, researchers have also found that vitamin D levels independently affect weight loss success, and that milk and milk products were the top contributors to vitamin D in the diets of the study’s participants. In a two-year weight loss study, milk drinkers had an advantage over those who skipped the milk, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So contrary to the myth that one gains weight by including milk in the diet, drink it regularly for just the opposite effect. Of course, you might want to cut back on that chocolate mix and sugar!
Milk, on its own, is a wholesome food. It is also one of the few nutritionally complete foods, packing in almost all the nutrients required for the growth, development and maintenance of the human body. Not only does it contain all the minerals and vitamins required to keep you fighting fit (literally, what with the strong bones!), the vitamins A and B are good for your eyesight and also help increase the RBC count in the body.
Had a stressful day? Try drinking a glass of milk. It can lower your blood pressure as well as act as an anti-stress agent. Still going ‘ugh!’ at the thought of downing milk? Try adding some fruit to it to make a glass of delicious milkshake, but without the scoop of ice cream. It’s custard apple season, and this rich fruit with its delicate flavour is perfect for milkshakes, and thick enough not to need ice cream to make it extra delicious. However, full-fat milk can be overdoing it a bit when you’re all grown up. While you need the nutrients present in milk, you can avoid the fat and have skim milk, instead.
What else can this power-packed white knight do? It is excellent for skin care! Who hasn’t heard the tales from Egypt when the Queen of the Nile bathed in milk! Even Cleopatra realised that a milk bath could help her keep the title of the most beautiful woman in the world. While a milk bath may not be very practical today, various other methods have being discovered to reap these benefits. A simple application of milk on the face for about 15 minutes smoothens your skin and ensures that it is well nourished. The secret lies in the lactic acid, which helps remove dead skin cells, rejuvenating the skin.
Milky remedies are no longer ‘home remedies’. As more secrets get discovered (or, rather, rediscovered, since Cleopatra knew it all), milk has found its way into spas and beauty centres. Used in combination with various scrubs, milk helps in the anti-tanning process, giving the skin a healthy glow. With so many benefits for health and beauty, we can now agree that mum was always right when she insisted on having that glass of milk at the start of the day. So, milk and cookies, anyone? - Pallavi