Milk has been a cornerstone of the human diet since the neolithic (post-cave-man) era.
As soon as we learned to build settled societies and rear livestock, we’ve been drinking the stuff.
Mainly from bovine sources (cows), milk has many nutritional benefits and its derivatives (dairy products) have some pronounced nutritional and health benefits of their own.
The drinking of milk and consumption of its derivative dairy products is not a universal activity. In fact, it's common for entire societies and regions to have not traditionally adopted the consumption of dairy milk.
After all, dairy milk is kind of weird if you think about it. Milk is designated for the infant mammals of the species from which it’s derived.
We not only drink a food source made for undeveloped infants, but we also consume it across a species line.
In any case, milk still has some benefits to offer. With that being said, there are also some good reasons to avoid milk altogether
Why Switch From Milk?
One of the most glaring reasons to avoid milk is due to intolerance. One major milk sensitivity is lactose intolerance.
This is due to the inability of the gut to digest lactose, one of the sugars in milk. This happens when the enzymes that are responsible for this are insufficient or completely unavailable.
Lactose intolerance is the most common food allergy and is probably indicative of the fact that adult consumption of milk is not part of the evolutionary deal, especially where consuming the milk of other animals is concerned.
Another reason milk can be avoided is because of ethical values. The dairy industry may not be directly aimed at killing livestock for our consumption, but the conditions and treatment of animals in these farms can be deemed inhumane.
One last caveat when it comes to milk is the story of calcium.
Milk has traditionally been touted as a great and effective source of dietary calcium. New research, however, is leading us to believe that the calcium in milk, is not as bioavailable as we would like.
This makes milk potentially less appealing or necessary…but we still need ice cream in the world, don’t we?
If you’re weird and don’t agree that the world needs ice cream, there are many other ways to enjoy a milk-like drink, without any actual dairy intake involved.
This article is going to introduce some amazing milk alternatives and fill you in on some of their amazing health benefits.
Top 5 Milk Alternatives and Their Health Benefits
Almond milk is extracted from almonds by blending then pressing them through a filter, leaving only the liquid behind.
Aside from being naturally lactose-free, almond milk is a dense nutrient source.
The liquid or almond milk is packed full of essential nutrients such as vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant with age defiant qualities. It also helps with blood flow as an antihypertensive.
Made from mill pressing rice grains then through diffusion, the grounds are strained, leaving behind the fluid that we know as rice milk.
Rice milk has a relatively high carb content compared to regular milk.
In terms of nutrients, rice milk is a great source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin D
Rice milk is a great dairy substitute for people with soy allergies as well.
Also known as soya milk, this is the earliest and most common form of a dairy-free milk alternative.
That’s mainly due to the high availability and cost-effective processing involved when it comes to soy-based foods.
It’s also of course, due to the favorable nutrient profile, since soy is a great source of protein.
Aside from that, soy milk is a source of vitamin B6, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
This low cholesterol, low-calorie milk alternative needs to be taken with caution. Some people have an allergic sensitivity to soy. Just make sure you’re not one of them before taking in any soy-based products.
Produced by processing soaked oats mechanically through a blender, then filtering out the fluid, this is another great grain-based milk alternative for plant-sourced or lactose-free living.
Oat milk has a smooth, neutral flavor, making it a great substitute and addition to recipes that would typically require milk.
As far as nutrients are concerned, oat milk doesn’t quite come as close as whole oats.
What you will find, however, is that oat milk is often fortified with many essential vitamins and minerals.
Oat milk is best used as a fluid alternative to milk and not so much as a nutritional substitute.
Coconut milk is derived from the processed flesh of ripe coconuts, typically blended with coconut water.
The rich taste and smooth texture of coconut milk are due to the high-fat content.
As you probably already know, coconuts are a rich source of saturated fat. In moderate quantities, this can actually be great, especially when considering MCT oil, a readily used energy source abundant in coconuts.
Other nutrients you can find in coconut include potassium, iron, magnesium and small amounts of calcium.
So there you have it! 5 amazing ways to avoid the dairy-based drama of lactose intolerance, that or just a great way to improve your plant-based options.
When scouting for dairy alternatives, try and go for certified organic and non-GMO brands. It’s also important to try to get your hands on sustainably farmed and sourced products.
Good nutrition isn’t just healthy for you, it should be healthy for the world you live in too.
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