Recent scientific research has shown that milk is a healthy drink which could prevent certain illnesses, including cancer.

Milk contains many valuable nutrients including essential proteins and amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, essential fatty acids and calcium.

According to Ayurveda, milk is a complete food in itself and some of the ancient sages used to live on a diet of milk, fruits and vegetables.

They are said to have lived very long and healthy lives, often up to 200 or 300 years.

In Ayurvedic medicine, milk has been given the name Jeevani or "promoter of life".

Ayurvedic physicians have researched the benefits of milk over the centuries and believe it to be particularly beneficial to children for healthy growth, women going through the menopause and older men to prevent osteoporosis.

It can also provide a healthy addition to a fast-food diet and can calm the nerves of those under stress.

The energies of milk have been described as Kapha, the water and earth elements which make it cooling, sweet-tasting and provide lubrication for body tissues.

It is also said to relieve imbalance of Vata, or nervous energy and hyperactivity, and Pitta, or fire.

Thus milk can be beneficial for anxiety, stress and restlessness and can relieve hyperacidity and heartburn.

As well as being nourishing, it can help promote the production of healthy semen in men and healthy ova in women.

It can cause catarrh in people who have a water and earth element body type so Ayurveda recommends such people drink milk diluted with a third of water and boiled with spices such as a little black pepper, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.

This changes the energy of milk to a warmer potency.

Children with a milk intolerance or allergy can be helped to overcome this by giving them milk in gradually increasing concentration and adding turmeric, ginger and black pepper.

It should be given in a dilution of one part milk to three parts water initially and gradually concentrated over a period of a few weeks.

This probably works in the same way as desensitisation in immunisation and vaccinations.