Milk, an abundant source of calcium, sodium, proteins, vitamins (A, K and B12), fats, amino acids, fibers and anti-oxidants, is often labelled as a full meal in itself by nutritionists. Remember how your mother would chase you round the house to make sure you had your glassful of nutrition? Milk since time immemorial has been seen as the magic potion for good health and well-being. Some consume it in the morning, some in the evening. Some argue that the best time to have milk is just before heading to bed, while some stand against the practice. So should you consume milk before you go for your slumber? What are the possible pros and cons attached?
The Case For Milk at Night
According to Ayurveda, consumption of warm milk is highly recommended at night before a good night sleep. In The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad, it states, “Don’t forget to drink a cup of hot milk, with a little ginger, cardamom and turmeric. Drinking milk at bedtime helps to induce sound sleep. According to Ayurveda, that milk also nourishes shukra dhatu, the body's highly refined reproductive tissue.”
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Milk contains amino acids known as tryptophan, which supposedly prompts sound sleep. It also contains melatonin that is said to regulate the sleep and waking up cycle. Some experts also argue that milk is extremely essential for maintaining bone health, for its abundance in calcium, and the absorption of calcium is optimal in the night hours due to lower involvements in physical activity levels in the evening.Bangalore-based nutritionist Anju Sood says, “I recommend hot milk for people who are facing constipation or those who have erratic eating habits. Milk is high in fibers, both insoluble and soluble. Soluble fibers are required in small quantities. They bond with sugar and fat and delays your digestion, therefore, highly recommended for people having constipation issues.”
The Case Against Milk At Night
However, the doctor doesn’t recommend drinking milk at night to those who do not suffer from constipation or erratic eating habits. “Milk is a complete meal in itself, packing almost all the essential nutrients. It is a combination of lactose and proteins (casein, albumin and globulins). It is the intake of the lactose, a disaccharide (a form of simple sugar), which is not recommended before you go to sleep, as it prevents your body from powering down. Also, liver functioning is highly active during the night hours, when it performs the function of detoxification. Having milk interferes with the process.”
(Also read:Drink Up! 12 Health Benefits of Milk You Must Know)
The conflicting views surrounding the best time to consume milk doesn’t just stick to the nights. For the longest time mornings were touted as the best time to consume milk as it activates your body, however, another view suggests that milk is hard to digest in the mornings.
Leading nutritionists and health experts almost unanimously suggest steering clear of milk with meals, as it is difficult to digest. It is best consumed separately. The best temperature to consume milk is often touted as lukewarm or hot, as it is best for digestive purposes. And should be completely avoided by people who are lactose intolerant.
The debate on whether or not you should consume bedtime milk might remain conflicted but one cannot dispute the multiple health benefits of consuming milk. So listen to your body and grab your glass accordingly. You can also try coconut milk, almond milk and nut milk as alternatives, which boast somewhat similar benefits as cow’s milk so that vegans can also have their share of healthy and tasty nutrition.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.