ALMIGHTY Allah said: “And verily! In the cattle, there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from between excretions and blood, pure milk; palatable to the drinkers.” (Qur’an 16:66)

In the Sunan it is narrated:

“Whoever Allah gives some type of food, let him supplicate, ‘O Allah! Bless it for us and grant us what is better.’ Whoever Allah grants some laban, let him say, ‘O Allah! Bless it for us and grant us more of it,’ for I do not know of a more complete food or drink than milk.”

Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was presented two cups at Bait Al-Maqdis on the night of Heavenly Journey, one containing wine and the other containing milk. He looked at both of them, and he took the one containing milk, whereupon Gabriel (peace be upon him) said: Praise is due to Allah Who guided you to the true nature; had you taken the one containing wine, your Ummah would have gone astray.

Milk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium. It has an important role in strengthening the bones.

Milk and milk products contain a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate and are a very important source of essential nutrients including: Calcium, riboflavin, phosphorous, Vitamins A, D and B12 and pantothenic acid.

Milk products also contain ‘high quality proteins’ that are well-suited to human needs. Milk proteins increase the value of poorer quality cereal and vegetable proteins in the diet by providing amino acids these proteins lack.

Milk and tooth decay
The amounts of calcium and phosphorous in milk and dairy products are also beneficial for the development and maintenance of healthy teeth. The most abundant protein in milk is casein and is protective as it forms a thin film on the enamel surface which prevents loss of calcium and phosphate from the enamel when the teeth are exposed to acids in the mouth. In fact, dentists recommend that milk is the only safe drink to have between meals (except for water) as it has been shown not causing tooth decay even in conditions perfect for damaging teeth!

Bone health
Milk and dairy products are providers of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and protein which are all essential for healthy bone growth and development.

Adequate consumption of milk and dairy products from early childhood and throughout life can help make the bones strong and protect them against diseases like osteoporosis (a debilitating, brittle bone disorder) in later life.

If milk and milk products are removed from the diet, it can lead to an inadequate intake of calcium. This is of particular concern for women and the elderly, who have high calcium needs. Calcium deficiency may lead to disorders like osteoporosis (a disease characterized by bone loss).

Milk and blood pressure
An increasing number of studies suggest that consuming three portions of dairy each day, along with five portions of fruit and vegetables as part of a low-salt diet can reduce high blood pressure in both adults and children.

Although the exact mechanisms involved are not clear, it is thought that the calcium, potassium, magnesium and proteins within milk are all likely to be involved.

A research in the US has found that high intake of fruits and vegetables, combined with low-fat dairy foods, will lower blood pressure more than fruits and vegetables alone.

Milk and cardiovascular disease
Several studies have linked milk and dairy consumption with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. A recent study on Welsh men found that those who drank the milk most had fewer heart attacks than those who had little or no milk in their diets. This connection could be due to many factors, but epidemiological studies have shown that higher intakes of calcium in particular are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

More specifically, studies have shown that high calcium intakes may reduce high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, and increase low levels of good cholesterol both of which are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that people who consume milk and dairy foods are likely to be slimmer than those who do not.

Studies have also shown that consumption of milk and dairy foods as part of a calorie-controlled diet is associated with increased weight loss, particularly form the abdomen. This is particularly beneficial since excess fat around the trunk region of the body is associated with greater risks to health. The precise mechanisms involved are unclear but are likely to involve calcium which is found in milk and dairy foods.

Type 2 diabetes
Studies suggest that regular consumption of low-fat dairy products can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which has been a longstanding problem in adults, and is becoming increasingly common in children and adolescents.

It is thought that this effect may be due to the combined effects of many beneficial nutrients found within dairy foods including calcium and magnesium, or the fact that dairy foods have a low glycaemic index, which helps to control blood sugar levels.

A recent study of more than 37,000 middle-aged women found that those with the highest intake of dairy products had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

A 10-year study of 3,000 overweight adults found that consuming milk and other milk products instead of refined sugars and carbohydrates may protect overweight young adults from developing type 2 diabetes.

In order to remain adequately hydrated, it is recommended that we consume 6-8 cups of fluid each day. If we become dehydrated, it can result in poor concentration and memory malfunction and leave you feeling irritable and unwell.

Milk is an excellent choice of fluid as it not only re-hydrates the body, but provides a host of beneficial nutrients and protects the teeth at the same time!

There is considerable evidence to suggest that milk has a protective effect on risk of both colorectal and breast cancer with increased intakes.

A recent study of 45,000 Swedish men reported that men who drank 1.5 glasses of milk per day or more, had 35% lower risk of the disease than those who had a low milk intake of less than two glasses per week.

Additionally a study of over 40,000 Norwegian women found that those who drank milk as children and continued to do so as adults, had a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Calcium and a naturally occurring fat in dairy products known as Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) have been suggested as protective components in colon cancer.

Colon cancer – some studies have found that people who regularly eat dairy products have a reduced risk of developing colon cancer.

Daily calcium requirement
To meet the body’s daily calcium requirement, it is recommended that one consumes between two to three serves of dairy products a day. One serve is equivalent to 250ml of milk, 35g (one matchbox-sized piece) of cheese and 200g yoghurt (four small scoops) of icecream.

Consumption of milk and dairy products is associated with numerous health benefits.

-by Dr. Rizwan Ahmed