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GLASS OF GOODNESS Buttermilk
GLASS OF GOODNESS Buttermilk

Here's one probiotic drink that does not come at a fancy price. HEMA VIJAY on the multiple benefits of buttermilk

‘P robiotic' is the latest health mantra. Probiotics are sold in fancy capsules and at fancy prices these days. But there is a probiotic drink that has been around for ages — it is a thirst quencher, a weight reducer, a source of vital nutrients, a body detoxifier, an intestine cleanser, replenishing beneficial intestinal bacteria, and relieves acidity, indigestion, diarrhoea and dehydration! You guessed it right; our humble more or buttermilk does all this, carrying the honour as lightly as butter floating on whey.

No wonder, Ayurveda considers buttermilk a health drink. In fact, besides all the benefits mentioned above, Ayurveda believes buttermilk or takra helps shrink haemorrhoids, reduce excess kapha and pittha in the body, treat anaemia and insomnia, bloating of the stomach, and even the effects of poison!

A probiotic food, it has beneficial microbes that survive the digestion process and go on to shower a host of benefits on our bodies. This includes manufacturing vitamins and boosting immunity, improving digestion, and protecting us from cardiovascular diseases and carcinogens. The protein in buttermilk is also more easily digestible than that contained in milk. “Those with digestive problems are advised to drink buttermilk rather than milk, as it is easily digested,” says Dr. S. Anand Rangan.

Buttermilk is low in fat, but high in potassium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and calcium. This makes buttermilk a powerful ally for people trying to reduce weight. “Apart from being a health drink that's low in calories, the astringent factor or rasa in buttermilk helps the body get rid of adipose tissue and extra calories,” says Dr. D. Shivashankari, ayurvedic physician.

Though it's a great drink during summer as it prevents dehydaration, sweating, tiredness, muscle cramps, nausea and headache. it is great to drink buttermilk at other times too.

Buttermilk is not just an Indian passion. Filmjolk is a type of buttermilk drunk in Sweden, the Caucasus has its Kefir, and buttermilk pancakes are a delicacy in South America.

Make it in a jiffy

The simplest dish on earth, you can litterally whip it up in a jiffy. But curd to which water has been added is simply not buttermilk. “This concoction will still retain the kapha (phlegm) and pitha (heat), which are the characterestics of curd. On the other hand, genuine buttermilk actually helps reduce pitha,” says Dr. V.R. Seshadri, senior ayurvedic consultant. Buttermilk has to be whipped up, not mixed up. In fact, we should consume only buttermilk and not curd after we cross a certain age, advise ayurvedic practioners.

Remove the cream ( aedu) that forms on the surface of boiled milk. Curdle the milk. Then whip up the curd that forms and remove the cream again. The remaining liquid is buttermilk.

Use a matthu or hand blender to whip up one part of curd with three parts of water. Drink it just like that or chill it, add a sprinkling of salt and asafoetida powder for taste. You may also add crushed ginger or garlic, a sprinkling of coriander leaves, a bit of dry-ground curry leaf powder (because it is cumbersome to chew or swallow curry leaves whole), and you would drink your way to health.

Guess why traditional Indian meals are completed with this drink, rather than a sweet? “Drinking buttermilk at the end of a meal gives the entire gastrointestinal tract an antibacterial coat, while sweet dishes actually quell the digestive juices in the body, leaving the gastro intestinal tract vulnerable to invading germs,” says Dr. V. R. Seshadri. Besides, coriander helps digestion and acts as a carminative; curry leaves supply iron; ginger and garlic lower cholesterol and aid digestion; and asafoetida is anti-spasmodic, though an excess of it can actually constipate.

SIMPLE REMEDIES

Though plain buttermilk is a great health drink, adding specific ingredients to it makes it work better.

To treat acidity, add jeera powder or seeds, a pinch of salt and crushed garlic to dilute buttermilk.

To relieve diarrhoea and dehydration, add a pinch of salt, sugar and dilute the buttermilk with more water.

To aid digestion, add coriander, ground ginger, jeera and pepper to buttermilk.

To treat obesity, thin the buttermilk by adding more water.

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