World Milk Day 2024: Nutritionist Busts Myths Around Dairy
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Milk is the first form of food that a newborn ever intakes. Just by that, you can comprehend the importance of milk in everyone’s day throughout their lives. While there are so many traditions attached to milk, the best way to drink milk to get the maximum benefits can be confusing for anyone.

If you have questions about the best time to drink milk, whether to drink it hot or cold, if it has the nutritional content to benefit you at all or not, etc, this is just the article for you. To get a hold of the importance of milk and bust some myths, Slurrp conducted an exclusive interview with the celebrity nutritionist Suman Agarwal, the force behind SelfCare. This World Milk Day, read what Suman Agarwal, with more than 24 years of practice, explains about the benefits of drinking milk.

Milk Consumption Habits

Is milk really a complete food? Who should prioritise drinking it?

Yes, milk is a complete food. Complete food is something that has a good combination of protein, fats, and carbs. And milk has 4 grams of carbohydrates, 3-4 grams of protein, and 3-6 grams of fat. So this is usually the composition of milk, depending on whether you've taken toned or full-fat cow's milk or buffalo milk.

Given that milk is very rich in calcium and is highly absorbable because of the presence of fat, it should be prioritised for pregnant women, lactating women, and kids till their growing age. It will help them not only grow up to their optimised height, depending on their genes but also improve the density of their bones because of the consumption of milk.

In your experience, is there a "best" time of day to drink milk for general health benefits?

The best time would be having it for breakfast because people are always in a rush, so they can pair a glass of milk with their preferred breakfast options like poha, upma, cereal, porridge, or oats. The second best time would be in the evening, especially for growing kids. So these are the ideal two times during which milk should be consumed. Also, note that milk should not be consumed along with tea because the calcium in milk will not be absorbed.

Are there any situations where you recommend avoiding milk consumption?

As per my experience, I would advise not to have milk with very spicy food or along with any pulses. 

What’s the best way of drinking milk? Cold or hot?

You can have hot or cold milk as you prefer. The nutritional content doesn’t change, so both ways are equally good.

Milk And Specific Goals

When would you recommend drinking milk to maximise specific goals?

Milk is the only source of first-class protein for vegetarians. For example, if someone is having a glass of juice and carbs for breakfast, like upma, sandwich or poha, this becomes a high-carb meal. But if you replace the juice with a glass of milk, your meal will be complete as you will get a combination of protein, fat and carbs.

This will help in achieving specific goals like:

1) Muscle building: Since you need more protein, milk would be a great addition. 

2) Weight loss: When your meal is balanced in carbs, protein, fats, and fibre, you automatically lose weight. Also, as opposed to milk juice spikes your blood sugar level, 

Can you help the readers understand the nutritional value of milk?

Half a cup of milk (100ml) has 116 mg of calcium as compared to 2 nachni rotis (30g), which have 113 mg of calcium, and 1 tbsp of sesame seeds have roughly 87 mg of calcium. Calcium in milk is highly absorbable due to the presence of Vitamin D and the absence of fibre (phytates affect the absorption of calcium).

Tips Catering To Common Issues

What advice would you give someone who enjoys drinking milk before bed but experiences sleep disturbances?

If you are having a disturbed sleep after drinking milk, have it 2 hours before going to bed. If you have an empty stomach, you will get better sleep. Your heart rate dips to the lowest in the first half of your sleep. So it's better not to have anything before bedtime. And as I have mentioned before as well, the two best times to have milk are for breakfast and a snack. 

What are some alternatives for people who don’t like milk or have any dietary restrictions?

If someone is lactose-intolerant, we don't add milk to their diet. We try to replace it with curd or yoghurt, which has the same amount of calcium as milk but a much lower lactose content. Also, curd has a probiotic value, which improves digestion and gut health. 

People on their weight loss journey can reduce the fat percentage of their milk by consuming double-toned milk or 1½ % fat milk. I don't generally recommend fat-free milk. Though the protein content is the same, the absence of cholesterol may not be beneficial in the long run because cholesterol helps prevent cognitive decline in the long run.