Milk: A Choice Beverage
Sarene Alsharif, MPH
God loves his servants and wants them to live happy, healthy lives. Through His perfect religion, God gives His followers the keys to success. In order to have a healthy body, one must select healthy foods; after all, you are what you eat. In His divine manner, God sent His people signs through the Quran and the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him [PBUH]) about what foods to select for optimal health. One of those foods is milk, the milk of cows, goats, and camels to be precise.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, an accomplished scholar of Islamic Sciences and author of the book Medicine of the Prophet, states in his book that milk was Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) favorite drink. In fact, in a hadith from Sunan Ibn Majah narrated from Ibn Abbas, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “[. . .] And whoever is given milk to drink by Allah, let him say: Allahumma barik lana fihi wa zidna minhu (O Allah, bless it for us and give us more of it). For I do not know of any food or drink that suffices, apart from milk.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was telling his followers that milk is a good source of water and nutrients at once, a quality unique to milk.
Current research is backing up this hadith. According to the National Dairy Council, milk is a high quality protein source while providing healthy carbohydrates and numerous vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 published by the United States Departments of Health and Human Services recommends people two years of age and older consume two to three servings of milk a day to promote health and prevent disease.
Cow’s milk supplies multiple different types of high quality proteins, whey and casein being the two most commonly known. In 2013, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) published an article discussing the functionality of milk proteins explaining that whey and casein have different digestion times. It takes the stomach three hours to digest whey while it takes over six hours to digest casein. Prolonged digestion time increases satiety, making a person feel full for a longer time, which can help with weight management. The AJCN and the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism both published articles in 2013 stating the peptides, or small proteins, in milk are natural angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitors. This means the peptides in milk help relax the blood vessels which, according to the Mayo Clinic, reduces high blood pressure and puts less stress on the heart.
God shows us His tremendous abilities through how He sends milk to humanity. In Surah (Chapter) An-Nahl (The Bee).
He says, “And indeed, for you in grazing livestock is a lesson. We give you drink from what is in their bellies – between excretion and blood – pure milk, palatable to drinkers” (Quran 16:66).
Like water, milk is one of only a few drinks made up of only one ingredient. To describe it as “heavenly” would not be far off. In the Quran we are told rivers of milk await us in Paradise.
“Is the description of Paradise, which the righteous are promised, wherein are rivers of water unaltered, rivers of milk the taste of which never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey, in which they will have from all [kinds of] fruits and forgiveness from their Lord, like [that of] those who abide eternally in the Fire and are given to drink scalding water that will sever their intestines?” (47:15).
Enjoying milk on a daily basis is both healthy and sunnah (practice of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH])! Because milk proteins take a long time to digest, dairy products make great breakfasts for adults and children. Enjoy IFANCA halal-certified Organic Valley milk with whole grain cereal, or granola with fresh fruits and yogurt. Not a fan of the taste or texture of milk? Try chia seed pudding or a coffee latte. Looking for a healthy pre- or post- workout snack? Milk and a banana provide all the protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and electrolytes the body needs.
Searching for something to cool down with? Make a milk or yogurt or yogurt based smoothie with fresh or frozen fruits and a touch of honey. Want to wind down after a long day? Relax with a cup of warm milk and a dollop of honey or a mug of chai with milk to clear your mind and soothe your body. But remember to rinse your mouth with some fresh water after enjoying your milk. In a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas, “Allah’s Apostle [PBUH] drank milk and then rinsed his mouth and said, ‘It contains fat.’” (Bukhari).
Milk is miraculous both in its health benefits and natural production. It is a daily reminder of the greatness and abilities of God. Current research shows it is important to promote and preserve health. As the National Dairy Council advertisements say, “Milk. It does a body good.” And it’s sunnah, too!
Sarene Alsharif, MPH, is a nutritionist accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She holds a master’s degree in public health. Sarene’s passion is health promotion and disease prevention through nutritious eating and exercise.