Is It Safe To Drink Milk After Fish?

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What a revelation even to me!! Had I not been asked to write on this very topic, I really would never have spared a second thought to this…really. Though I’m not one of those who follow every other age-old myth, yet “drinking milk after fish is not good” somehow it always seemed something having strong roots in either the scientific world, or in the field of medicine, that it sounded already so authentic, so reliable. And thus, now I understand how we end up developing, and implementing such rigid misconceptions, only because “they’ve always been followed”! Is it really safe to drink milk after fish?

When I did some research about this, you won’t believe how many other similar, baseless, crazy myths I came across, which I was previously unaware of. Just to share one of them, I read somewhere that there are people who also believe that eating mangoes after fish is dangerous! So I guess it is more about “variety” now…rather than some genuine reason or cause behind a certain hypothesis…

Coming to the point, there have been several research and investigations, to find out if this particular belief could be correct, at all. But not one of the results did prove so. And as far as the biggest misconception is concerned, that is of milk after fish causing a serious skin disease, “vitiligo”, has been concluded absolutely wrong. I consulted a doctor online at who guided me that the skin disease which is believed to occur because of having milk after eating fish, is actually a proper, autoimmune disease, which happens due to a family history of it, or due to various environmental factors. It’s an unpredictable, yet a long term disease and someone suffering from it goes through depigmentation of skin cells, changing the skin’s colour. In vitiligo, the person develops white patches all over the body, if his immune system becomes unhealthy, or damaged. On the other hand, what can happen at times, after eating fish (and drinking/not drinking milk) is nothing but some skin rash, which too to somebody who is allergic to one or some specific fish-types. And in that case, the allergy is never restricted to the skin; to those whom “fish” doesn’t suit in general, face other issues too, including asthma, nausea, or diarrhea, etc. However, there are a few fish breeds, which do accumulate amino acids within them, if they aren’t cooked or preserved in the required way. But even they do not bring any more harm to the eater, than some stronger allergic reaction…not “vitiligo”, even then!

There was also an interesting, quite a catchy title, of an African article published in 1996, after a thorough investigation about the origin and evolution of this myth. The title, saying, “After Fish, Milk Do Not Wish”, made me read through the entire thing. A whole team of scientists had been a part of that research, who had set to negate the false claim of those days…of “fish” being the leading factor of “leprosy”! Why I wanted to share about this, is just to make you see for yourselves how far human craziness can go! And what would make you wonder, even more, is the way people eventually have altered their very own claims about eating fish, or drinking milk after it, by changing them from “death” to “leprosy” to “vitiligo” to “a mild skin disease” to “bad health”! Leprosy, by the way, is somewhere way far from drinking milk after fish…though yes, some medical research carried out at that time did admit that there had been some ingredient or some parasite being added to fish, which was not cured properly, and could be a contributing factor, just as decomposing fish, or having unsaturated fats in one’s diet could.

The list of related “generally believed” stories can perhaps go on and on. If we talk about South Asia, how do you think this superstition got introduced and started being followed on Pakistan? It’s there with us, undoubtedly, from the Hindu culture, especially since the pre-partition time, when our interaction with them was limitless… Then, according to some Jewish traditions, and some Arab Hakeems, there have been certain dermatological conditions prevalent at specific times, which/who did report some minor health problems arising after having milk in succession to eating fish, but they can quite flexibly be looked into, as to whether fish and meat were taken at the same time, or without much gap in between the two…as these two situations can well become problematic…

But let’s just take a look at so many of the traditional and even the modern continental cuisines! Haven’t you noticed the wide diversification in so many fish-related food options, all doing one thing or the other, with “milk” or some “dairy product”?!?!? There is the famous “baked fish recipe”, in which the fish is served with a buttery, creamy sauce. Then there are varieties of fish recipes cooked with, or in coconut milk. There are yet a few kinds of fish, which do need to be dipped in milk for a certain time duration, during their cooking process…so…do you think all those who enjoy them, in the end, are diagnosed with vitiligo…or leprosy…??

If it’s up to us, I think we can actually “love” creating and inventing myths like this. Some say fish and milk aren’t good for health because they are incompatible. Now how are they incompatible? They are of the opinion that white-colored foods shouldn’t be taken together, and since fish is more of “white” meat, it must be avoided with milk, which is also white! Another well-believed theory goes, saying that since both, fish as well as milk, have high protein content in them, their combination can prove harmful. This too appears to be a silly enough logic, for proteins are supposed to be incorporated in our diet as best as possible, and medically too, an excessive intake of high protein diets hasn’t been discouraged ever!

Not drinking milk after “papaya”, is proven, as it leads to diarrhea. But “not drinking milk after FISH”, is only an old wives’ tale…

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Faisal Quesrshi


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