The weather is turning, inviting us to slow down a bit more and savor the moment – the way the light hits the trees, the hint of autumn on the breeze, the days that are officially shorter than the night. As the season shifts, we often see our appetites and food choices change accordingly. This can be a great time of year to invite in small changes, like what you’re drinking.
Golden Milk, aka digestive milk or turmeric milk, is a deliciously creamy drink that originates from the Ayurvedic tradition in India. A blend of spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and cardamom is mixed into milk (cow’s milk or milk alternatives are great), heated and enjoyed. Not only is it beautiful in its bright yellow color, it is loaded with health benefits.
Historically, Golden Milk has been used to “stoke the digestive fire” or wake up digestion first thing in the morning setting the tone for an optimally functioning gut. It has also been prescribed to be taken in the evenings to settle the nervous system and ensure a good night’s sleep. Curcumin, one of the compounds found in turmeric, has been proved to act on serotonin levels in the brain, reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality. Drinking it in the evening can also curb the post-dinner sweet tooth partially because the herbs help to balance blood sugar.
Golden Milk is a delightful way to balance inflammation throughout the body as many of the included spices have been scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory effects and strong antioxidant activity throughout the body. The same herbs have been shown to be antiviral, anti-bacterial and antifungal, so could really give your immune system a boost.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, research also shows that these same plants can help with cell damage repair, protect against cognitive decline and lower risk of heart disease. And the milk itself is rich in calcium and vitamin D, which can help to build bones and prevent osteoporosis. Sounds like the perfect addition to any anti-aging recipe.
Finally, there are studies that demonstrate the mood-lifting power of turmeric. Used regularly, Golden Milk just might put a little extra pep in your step. Plus, caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars are known to deplete key nutrients that balance anxiety and depression, so if we use Golden Milk instead, we get even more benefits.
There are a variety of companies that sell ready-to-mix Golden Milk powders that you could get from your local health food store. Or, if you want to DIY, add 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon grated or fresh ginger, a pinch each of black pepper and cardamom to 2 cups of milk of your choice. If you want even more benefits, heat a teaspoon or two of butter, ghee or coconut oil in the pan and gently warm the herbs for 2 to 3 minutes to stimulate the healing properties of the spices before adding the milk. I frequently add a tablespoon of collagen powder and ½ teaspoon of medicinal mushroom powder for even more health benefits. If you like to add sweetener, consider monk fruit, raw honey or stevia as more balanced options.
Our morning routines set the pace for our entire day. If we can find more spaciousness, begin the day with a slower pace and enjoy a cup of Golden Milk, we just might experience more peace in each moment.
Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or www.puravidahealthcare.com.