These days, the ongoing debate as to whether dairy milk is inflammatory or not still continues. What we do know, however, is that as we age our bodies produce fewer lactase enzymes that help breakdown the lactose in milk. And unfortunately, if our bodies can’t digest milk properly, then we’re only contributing to the pre-existing inflammation.
So, that’s why we focus on alternative routes. Unfortunately, the swap from dairy to non-dairy isn’t as easy as you think. Many brands continue to add ‘other ingredients’ to these kinds of milk that can cause more harm than dairy itself. So we’re here to help you determine what is best for you gut health.
Firstly, why nut milk over dairy?
As mentioned, dairy can impact our digestive tracts over time. In fact, studies now suggest that sixty-five percent of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant and we believe that this is the case because the dairy industry has been glorified for decades, claiming that it provides us with the most calcium that we need.
Unfortunately, that claim has come with a cost because what we do know now is that up until the age of 5, humans only produce a certain amount of digestive enzymes called ‘lactase’ that support the breakdown of lactose in dairy. So, from that age onwards the more we feed our bodies with dairy, the faster we deplete our bodies of the enzyme that prevents us from being intolerant. Interesting, right?
What about the nutritional factor of nut milk?
Well, it depends on what nut milk you’re drinking. But if we’re talking about nut milk as a whole, many of them are nutrient dense with vitamins, fibers and proteins. They also contain 100 calories or less depending on the ratio. And what we find most interestingly, is that many of these nut milks have MORE calcium and MORE vitamin D than the old cow milk.
Surely nut milk can’t be all that great…
Actually, you’re right.
There are flaws that we will certainly highlight for you. As for the nut itself, it can cause a great deal of stress on the environment. It takes 3.2 gallons (12 litres) of water to produce one almond, making it an unsustainable choice.
Also, many nut milks contains naughty ingredients that you MUST avoid:
- Gums (guar, gellan etc.)
- Cane Sugar (unless organic)
- Fortified vitamins
- Natural flavor
Seems like a lot, right? Here’s why:
Carrageenan, emulsifiers and gum all negatively alter the gut bacteria causing inflammation. Fortified vitamins are synthetic, so your body has a hard time absorbing them. They also can cause toxicity overload on the body. Natural flavors can be a breakdown of any food group including allergens. And sugar, well it contributes to inflammation overall.
So, what milks should we drink?
This is a tough one as they all vary in beneficial factors. But for taste, and nutritional value the order goes like this:
- Cashew Milk: This guy tastes particularly great in teas, and lattes especially matcha. Cashew milk is soaked, blended with water and strained and has a nutritional composition of around 40-50 calories per cup. Cashews a nutrient-dense with zinc, copper, and magnesium, which help support the immune system. Not only that, but cashew milk is also so damn creamy and delicious.
- Coconut milk: It’s very hard to find a nut milk company that does only ‘coconut milk’, so wander down the canned foods aisle to pick yourself up a can of straight-up organic coconut milk. Coconut milk is made up of water and coconut cream. Nutritionally, coconut milk is higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates than other kinds of milk. That said, the fats are healthy and can contribute to weight loss, also, promotes healthy hair and skin, strengthens the immune and contains antioxidants.
- Walnut milk: Ah! Where do we begin? This one only crept onto the list recently, which is why he comes in at number 3. Walnut milk is not only packed with omega-3’s but is rich in antioxidants, low in carbs, and a great source of fibre. What we love though, is that it also carries Bifidobacterium, essential bacteria to help balance the microbiome. Furthermore, there are now studies indicating that ‘something’ in walnuts could be the answer to putting our IBD symptoms in remission.
- Hemp milk: Hemp milk is a solid choice from a nutritional standpoint. It’s made by blending hemp seeds with water and packs magnesium and calcium. Not to mention it also has omeg3, omega-6 fatty acids which are essential nutrients for your immune system and cognition. And of course, it has massive anti-inflammatory benefits.
So, there you have it! Our own breakdown of why we prefer non-dairy, and what non-dairy that you should be looking out for. One word of advice, however, always read the labels!