Curd is one of the most relished foods in Indian dishes and is an inseparable part of our daily diet. The creamy texture and a tinge of tangy taste make it more delicious which is convenient enough to be paired with any of our daily meals. The usage of curd is extensive ranging from consumption in various delicacies to an external application as a cosmetic.
The bacterial transformation of milk results in the formation of curd and this process is irreversible. The simple process can change grape juice into wine, and likewise milk to curd. Lactobacillus bacteria in curd break some of the proteins in milk (casein, whey protein) into amino acids, making it easier to collect the nutrients. There are several factors influencing the process of fermentation which includes, temperature, starter cultures, and characteristics of milk.
Curd and its usage at its best have been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts.
Heavy to digest
Increases muscle mass in the body
Imparts taste rather than stimulating the taste buds
Boosts immunity - Vitamins and other macronutrients are responsible for building immunity.
Stay away from curd at night - It is not advisable to consume curd at night, the reason being, it is heavy to digest and may irritate the mucosa of the stomach. Also, it states that there is a possibility of deterioration of health in patients with bleeding disorders.
Do not heat - Curd when heated loses its molecular structure, in turn losing its properties. It can affect our health in ways unexplained. It stimulates inflammatory markers resulting in lesions, and inflammation.
Consumption of sour curd is not recommended for gastritis.
Curd should be avoided in 3 main seasons which are Spring, Summer, and Autumn - As the 'pitta' component of our body is at its peak, consumption of curd during these seasons may induce gastritis and result in GERD-like symptoms.
Curd when consumed judiciously as explained in Ayurveda, boosts immunity and bestows the best of its nature. Whereas the same, when consumed improperly may lead to an immune deficit or auto-immune conditions like Psoriasis, Arthritis, and other skin-related diseases.
Curd is better consumed with honey, ghee, sugar, Indian gooseberry (Amla), or green gram to nullify the extreme effects.
Current era's research on curd:
The concept of probiotics has led to the widespread consumption of curd, for it contains probiotic microbes (good bacteria) in abundance which plays a vital role in maintaining gut health. They are well known as "health-friendly bacteria".
It was found in a study that consumption of curd results in a 4.5% decrease in Total Cholesterol and a 7.5% decrease in LDL-C.
Such endless research takes us back to the roots of our ancient medicine and enlightens us on new concepts.
4. Ayurvedic Texts - Ashtanga Hridayam, Charaka Samhita (SutraSthaana)