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Is milk bad for me and other nutrition questions answered

In his book ‘Back to the Roots’, holistic lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho tackles often-asked questions about consuming milk, wheat and more 

There are two kinds of proteins in cow milk—A1 and A2—which differ by a single amino acid
There are two kinds of proteins in cow milk—A1 and A2—which differ by a single amino acid (iStock)

Is milk good for us?

There was a time when we all drank milk without any health problems. So, what has changed about milk that makes it important to reconsider this beverage?

It’s the quality. There has been a deterioration in the quality of milk and the health of animals that produce it due to the greed and corruption of most food lobbies. Thus, it is very important to create awareness about dairy and dairy products. With awareness comes the power of making a choice and deciding whether dairy is the right fit for you or not.

Also read: All your questions about milk answered

What feeds the cow that feeds us?

To meet supply and demand, cows are fed corn and soy, injected with vaccines and antibiotics so that they are disease-free. They are also injected with oestrogen, bovine growth hormone, to produce milk. When we consume milk from such cows, we see a rise in girls reaching early puberty, hormonal issues (PCOS, ER-positive cancers), obesity, antibiotic resistance and diabetes. There have been hormonal fluctuations in boys too resulting in low testosterone levels, stunted growth resulting in mental confusion, early depression, and low self-esteem. Cows are also milked using unethical practices that leads to the contamination of milk with blood and pus cells.

After reading such facts, you may find yourself wondering whether you should give up drinking milk. 

You are addicted to milk because the milk you have been drinking has a morphine-like effect. When the body tries to breakdown casein (in A1 milk), a chemical component called BCM-7 is released, which is the reason for morphine-like effects on the central nervous system. BCM-7 causes addiction to milk. That’s why children prefer consuming milk.

So how do you choose which milk is of the best quality? The answer is A2 milk, produced by desi cows that have only A2 beta-casein protein. There are two kinds of proteins in cow milk—A1 and A2—which differ by a single amino acid. Yet, this one difference can change the way the milk is digested in the human body. The structure of A2 protein is more comparable to human breast milk, as well as milk from goats, sheep and buffalo. A2 is the purest form of milk produced by cows that are nurtured in the right manner. Cows are given fresh fodder, clean water, and are kept in a happy environment.

Also read: Do you really need dietary supplements?

As a result, the milk is purer and highly nutritious. So, when you drink A2 milk there is no gastrointestinal discomfort and your hormones are harmonized because cows aren’t given any growth hormones or antibiotics to increase the output of milk.

Should I eat wheat?

Of late, people are not too sure about consuming wheat. They feel bloated, flatulent and acidic after eating wheat products. The term gluten intolerance has become quite common. This may have become common because of the change in the way wheat is processed.

Earlier, wheat was harvested, shade dried, washed down and sun-dried. It was then taken to processing mills where the wheat was ground into wheat flour and then sold to ration shops and grocery stores. Nowadays, harvested wheat is not cleaned properly. If you soak wheat in water, you will see dirt floating on the surface.

Wheat is also not properly shade dried and sun-dried, the two processes that break gluten. However, we can replace regular wheat with long wheat grain. Long wheat grain, or emmer, is locally known as khapli wheat. However, khapli wheat is not popular because it doesn’t give the regular light-coloured roti or chapatti, the staple food for thousands of Indians. It is dark brownish in colour. Why should you consume khapli wheat?

• There is scientific evidence that khapli wheat is great for diabetics as it has the ability to lower blood sugar levels.

• Emmer wheat has complex carbs that can boost your immunity. It is a great grain for children, adults and senior citizens.

• The gluten molecule is weak in khapli wheat and is thus suitable for people with gluten issues.

• It has the ability to lower bad cholesterol and this is good for heart patients.

• It has twice the fibre and twice the protein of regular store-bought wheat. It will fill you faster and will reduce hunger pangs, thus aiding weight loss.

• It is rich in niacin of vitamin B3, which is great for your heart and cholesterol levels. Emmer is also a rich source of magnesium and iron.

• Pregnant women and those who have recently given birth can also benefit by including emmer wheat in their diet, because of its rich nutrient profile.

• People with celiac disease may find it difficult to consume khapli wheat. If you are gluten intolerant, make a small roti with it and see if it suits you.

To drink or not to drink tea?

Every day I wake up to my mailbox full of questions revolving around Indian chai and whether one should be drinking it or not. Indian chai has recently become a rage in the West and people from New York to California are raving about its health benefits. This spicy aromatic brew has its roots in India that can be traced as far back as the Ayurvedic medical texts.

So, is there anything wrong with the traditional cup of Indian chai? No. It is the preparation that is going wrong. The original Indian chai was prepared in two ways. In the first one, the antioxidant-rich black tea is the base.

Black tea in moderation is extremely potent in reducing LDL cholesterol, neutralizing free radicals and fighting inflammation. One can add freshly mashed ginger that’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is a digestive soother; cardamom, a common ingredient in every Tibetan medicine as a digestion aid, improves blood circulation and purifies blood; fennel, also a digestive soother; clove, a powerful spice when it comes to the stomach’s gut lining, highly antimicrobial, a natural painkiller; and lastly, black pepper that boosts metabolism, enhances absorption of other spices and has an amazing connection with the way the body stores fat. All of these spices are boiled in black tea that people have sipped for generations.

Then there is a second way of preparing tea by adding a splash of milk and a bit of sugar to the black brew. Some people in rural areas even use jaggery instead of sugar.

Either of these tea preparations are not the reason for being unable to lose weight or healing from sickness. Anything in excess is bad. People have four or five cups of tea a day because they’re addicted to their sweet version of this beverage. Overconsumption of sugar and milk is what destroys health. In some cases, milk doesn't suit us. Giving up on your morning cup of tea is not going to make a difference. Going from four or five cups a day to two cups a day, reducing the amount of sugar that goes into it, or switching to jaggery, will certainly help.

Take it up a notch and brew that black tea with all the abovementioned spices and you will end up enhancing your health. Many have that emotional connection with their tea. It’s soothing for them, brings peace, happiness and helps them unwind. If that’s the reason behind your morning or evening cuppa, then there is nothing wrong with it and you should do that every single day. Emotional health is important and anything that keeps you happy in the right way should not be discontinued.

‘Back to the Roots: Celebrating Indian Wisdom and Wellness’ by Luke Coutinho with Tamannaah; Ebury Press; 256 pages;  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>350 
‘Back to the Roots: Celebrating Indian Wisdom and Wellness’ by Luke Coutinho with Tamannaah; Ebury Press; 256 pages; 350 

Excerpted with permission from 'Back to the Roots' by holistic lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho and actor Tamannaah, published by Ebury Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House India.

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