What’s golden milk? Where did golden milk come from?
Golden milk has become extremely popular in the last few years with blog after blog reposting recipes. That’s how I got hooked. About two and a half years ago I read all of the blogs about golden milk and its benefits, and decided to make it myself. You’d think that golden milk would have been something I tried in excitement from all the Pinterest hype and forgot about almost immediately, but the day I made my first recipe I was hooked. I’ve been making golden milk regularly since then as a way to help me unwind for the day and as a way to settle digestive issues and banish inflammation in my body.
So what is golden milk and why am I so jazzed up about it? Golden milk, also known as haldi doodh, is a drink that was created thousands of years ago in India and has roots in Ayurveda. If you’re unfamiliar with Ayurveda, it’s considered to be the sister science of yoga. If you’re curious about it, I highly suggest the book, “An Idiots Guide to Ayurveda,” by Sahara Rose Ketabi. She’s the one person who I learned from the most about Ayurveda through her book and her podcast, “The Highest Self Podcast.”
According to Sahara, “Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system, stemming from ancient India more than 5,000 years ago. In fact, it’s the health system from which all others originated — Chinese, Western, and Herbology included. The Sanskrit word Ayurveda means ‘knowledge of life,’ and in order to achieve complete health, you must have knowledge of all aspects of your life. This healing system transcends the physical and combines the medical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and metaphysical, which are all interconnected. Ayurveda dives into the complex mind-body relationship and brings you back into balance…” (From The Idiots Guide to Ayurveda, Intro)
Golden milk was one of the many natural medicines of the time. However, the recipes used back then were a bit different than the sweet, Starbucks versions that we have now. I’ve been trying to learn about the original recipe, but I believe that it was once a simple mixture of turmeric and milk. But either way, this recipe that I’m going to give you today is one thing that I swear by and I’ll continue to make for many, many years to come.
Why I’m drinking the golden Kool-Aid
Now I’m obsessed with golden milk and have passed along my recipe to several friends and family who asked for it. I absolutely love this part of my nighttime routine and for that reason, I was planning on sharing a post about golden milk months ago. Unfortunately, it kept being put off. I finally decided to create this post today after watching a very educational and informative lecture called, “A Healthcare Call to Action,” from Andrew Weil (MD) through my Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) classes.
Most of Weil’s lecture focused on the topic of inflammation and after hearing his research on inflammation in the body, I felt so motivated and inspired to pass it on to you. More than ever I believe that this simple elixir has the power to drastically improve our health short term and long term and is 110% worth the online hype. Here’s why…
As you get older, especially once you are over the age of 60, the possibility of getting serious diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease increases substantially, right? Of course, we’re all very familiar with that by now. Sadly, our culture has come to the understanding that as you get older it’s unavoidable to become seriously sick. However, Weil’s research all centered around one question: Is it inevitable that we’re going to get one or another disease as we age? Does it HAVE to happen?
Well the answer is, NO. That’s not the case. Research overwhelmingly proves that it’s possible to age healthily and prevent diseases. But how? How do you reduce the risk and delay the onset of age-related diseases? It turns out that all of these well-known, age-related diseases begin as inflammatory processes in the human body. For example, coronary artery disease begins as inflammation in the lining of the arteries which can also PRECEDE the deposition of cholesterol. According to Weil, cholesterol may even be the body’s way of attempting to patch up areas that have been damaged by inflammation.
Alzheimer’s disease is another example. Alzheimer’s begins as inflammation in the brain which is why ibuprofen has a preventative effect in Alzheimer’s Disease. This may even be why India has the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world because they eat turmeric at every meal – the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agent that’s been found. Weil also shared that one of the reasons why aspirin can prevent heart attacks: it’s an anti-inflammatory agent as well as a blood-thinning agent.
Amazingly all of the worst age-related diseases we’ve become so familiar with begin as inflammation, even cancer. Why? Because anything that intensifies inflammation in the body simultaneously increases cell proliferation. This means that cells divide more frequently, which increases malignant transformation.
Now inflammation is not ALL bad. It’s actually a very healthy and necessary response that our bodies have. Inflammation is the body’s healing response, it’s how the body gets more nourishment to the area that needs it. For example, if you’ve been hurt or injured the area will swell and turn red. However, inflammation can be very powerful and in the end even dangerous. Which means it’s important that the inflammation stays where it’s supposed to stay in the body and ends where it’s supposed to end, not continue to linger once it’s served its purpose. If inflammation does persist and serve no purpose it becomes productive of disease.
The majority of Weil’s lecture centered around the fact that he believes that all these diseases have a common root which is inappropriate inflammation in the body, so anything that reduces or contains inflammation in the body is going to reduce the risk of disease.
The kind of inflammation that he worries about is low-level inflammation throughout the body which is influenced by genetics, stress, exposure to environmental toxins, but most of all DIET. The reason why this is so important to remember is that the mainstream American diet is pro-inflammatory — it’s a diet filled with fats and carbohydrates (not the good kind) and it lacks the foods that protect and heal our body like fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices. I believe that our culture is increasingly stressed out as our self worth is viewed by how productive and successful we are. Throw in our three coffees a day to keep us going and energized and we REALLY have a recipe for disaster. These issues leave us walking around with inflammation on a day to day basis, the kind that could seriously affect our health in the long term as Weil pointed out.
Anything that can help fight chronic inflammation in the body has the possibility to prevent and even treat these diseases. That’s where turmeric and my beloved golden milk comes in.
Golden Ingredients & Benefits
TURMERIC – Turmeric is the main ingredient in golden milk and has been used in India for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, and as I shared before, it’s the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory. Although there’s a large number of people that believe that using herbs and supplements for medical purposes is a bunch of bull, turmeric is far from make-believe. Today, science is finally able to back up why this herb is so beneficial. Turmeric contains compounds that are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin – the compound responsible for giving turmeric its anti-inflammatory properties.
Not only is it anti-inflammatory, but the curcumin compound drastically increases the antioxidant capacity of the body, it improves brain function, lowers the risk of heart disease, prevents and treats cancer, helps treat people with depression, improves digestion, relieves pain, and delays age-related chronic diseases. This one compound works like magic in our bodies. If you would like to read evidence-based articles on these claims, make sure to check out the Healthline article titled, “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin” or “Everything You Need to Know About Turmeric,” by Medical News Today.
PEPPER – BUT, don’t go making your golden milk just yet without the second more important ingredient: pepper. You might be thinking, “why pepper?” You wouldn’t think that this ingredient would be so necessary to the recipe, but it is. Although curcumin is wonderful for the body, it, unfortunately, is poorly absorbed in our bloodstream. In an article on Nature’s Path by Kate Barrington titled, “What’s the Deal with Golden Milk,” she shares that black pepper contains a compound called piperine that prevents the liver from metabolizing the curcumin before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Just a pinch of black pepper can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by as much as 2,000%. Not only does it help the compound to absorb completely, but it also magnifies its benefits!
In addition to all of the benefits from turmeric, modern Golden Milk recipes include cinnamon, ginger, coconut oil, and vanilla extract or honey – all of which include their own health benefits while making the recipe absolutely delicious.
COCONUT OIL – I probably don’t need to tell you all about the health benefits of coconut oil by now which has been raved about forever for just about every ailment both internally and externally. You could use it as an all-natural body lotion, while simultaneously taking it to treat Alzheimer’s disease, reduce inflammation, treat allergies and digestion, heal cold sores, grow your hair, speed up weight loss, relieve stress, take your makeup off and MUCH more. How would life go on without coconut oil? BUT, there is one other reason why coconut oil is so important to include when you’re making golden milk, aside from its countless health benefits.
CINNAMON – According to an article from Simple India Mom called “10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon,” cinnamon is especially beneficial as it contains three special compounds, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid and cinnamate which allow cinnamon to act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, and immune-booster while also protecting against cancer and heart disease. A separate article from Healthline titled “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon,” shares that cinnamon also lowers blood sugar levels and protects against neurodegenerative diseases.
According to Healthline, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells. Two compounds found in cinnamon inhibit the buildup of a protein called “tau” in the brain – one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
GINGER – Ginger is one ingredient that I absolutely cannot live without since I’ve suffered from countless stomach bugs and digestive issues in my life. It something that I ALWAYS have stashed in case of emergency, and something that I always include in my golden milk thanks to its variety of digestive benefits. Ginger helps with just about any digestive problems and is the best home remedy for alleviating nausea. According to another article by Medical News Today titled, “Ginger: Health Benefits and Dietary Tips,” ginger can also help with cold and flu relief, reduce cholesterol and reduce pain. Ginger also contains curcumin too so it has the same benefits of turmeric including the most important one: reducing inflammation.
HONEY or VANILLA – And lastly, no golden milk latte recipe is complete without a natural sweetener. Honey is another one of those health foods that have also been hyped up as it has dozens of medicinal and personal care uses. You can use it to treat dandruff, fade scars, prevent wrinkles, and heal razor burn while at the same time using it to treat heartburn and allergies, go to sleep, improve digestion AND of course, reduce inflammation. Vanilla extract, on the other hand, can help with heart health, anxiety, digestion, and respiratory issues. Whichever one you choose to use is completely up to you. However, if you are going to buy honey buy LOCAL honey which can help your body get used to the allergens in your area and you’ll know that you’re getting real honey. There are tons of companies selling fake honey these days! And if you’re buying vanilla extract, splurge that extra dollar or two and get the real, organic vanilla extract.
Six ingredients later do you understand why I’m a Golden Milk Connoisseur? Not only does each one of those ingredients have separate health benefits, but each one of them also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Each of these ingredients has the potential to help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life disease-free.
I know that I may not be at risk for Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, or cancer right now, but I believe in adopting simple and healthy habits when you’re young to try to prevent things like that from even happening in the first place.
For many bloggers across America, golden milk was a health and wellness fad that they used to get readers, clicks, and subscribers. For me, golden milk is truly one of my simple, healthy habits that I chose to adopt for my health and well-being. I want to share it with you today so that you might benefit from it too. And the beauty is that this ancient recipe has been used and agreed on for its health benefits for 5,000+ years. So why not try it?
This is my person golden milk recipe. After making it more times than I can count I don’t normally measure it out and make it so carefully anymore, but if you’re new feel free to try this out and tweak it to your personal preferences.
WARNING: Turmeric stains! Be aware that turmeric is used for dyeing clothing. Once you get it on your clothes, GOOD LUCK getting it out. Always make sure to wear clothes that you don’t care about when making this recipe and whatever you do, do NOT wear white.
- 1.5 cups milk (I use pea milk or almond milk)
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- .5 teaspoon cinnamon
- .5 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 2 teaspoons honey or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
On a stovetop in a small pot warm the milk while slowly putting in each ingredient at a time while whisking in between. This helps the ingredients to dissolve while also making the milk a little bit foamy and creamy just like a latte. If I’m making it on the stove and taking my time, I prefer to use fresh, cut up ginger and cinnamon sticks instead of the powder. However, the downside of using the stove is that the turmeric usually gets all over the pot and is a pain to scrub out.
When I make the golden milk in the microwave, I usually put the milk into a mug and heat it for one minute with the turmeric already added. I take the milk out to whisk or stir, add the other ingredients and heat up for one more minute. Then I stir or mix it again.
I’ve been making golden milk for the last two-plus years and I love how this recipe is incredibly powerful, while also being incredibly cheap and easy to make. Each night, it only takes me about 3 minutes to have my golden milk ready and will hopefully help to bring me a long and healthy life.
But even if golden milk didn’t have all of those benefits, I still might be making it anyways. It’s always been very hard for me to relax and wind down at night, but whenever I have my golden milk it helps me to feel better, calm down before I go to bed, relax, and drift off to sleep easier. I like to make it each night after I’ve gotten myself ready for bed and I’m about to start meditating. If you haven’t tried it yourself, I couldn’t recommend it more.
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As always let me know what you think in the comments! Have you tried golden milk? Do you like it or not like it? What’s your recipe? Have you noticed any benefits from it? And what are your thoughts on Andrew Weil’s belief that chronic age-related diseases begin as inflammatory processes in the body? Do you believe that simple lifestyle habits could actually help to change this? Or do you still believe that sickness and disease are inevitable? Whatever your thoughts, let me know! I’m so curious about what you think!
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Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.