Let’s think outside the “milk box” when it comes to what we think we know about the importance of dairy in our diet . We can survive without depending on cow’s milk as our main nutritional beverage , we are not baby cows. Humans can do better . We can drink more than one type of “milk”. Nutritional Knowledge is the key to better health decisions. Let’s try to understand all our food sources to improve our health and not rely on others or corporations to do this for us. Our nutritional food source should be based on what is healthful for us and our family as well as having less of negative impact on the environment.
We can now base this choice on facts and research not hearsay .
This choice cannot be taken out of context with the entirety of a person’s whole diet. The decision should be supervised by your physician as well. Generally speaking after a year of age milk does not have to be the main source of an individual’s protein, calcium , vitamins, and fat.
You can create a improved “designer milk” to maximize health for your family’s needs.
Our method is to include the main essential ingredients attributed as a healthy in cows milk by most pediatricians and parents ( whether warranted or not) and match it to healthier types of milk .
Let’s start with the basics using one of the most widely available plant milks which offer nutritionally sound and healthful ingredients.
When possible the milk should be organic especially without any harmful processing. It is important to avoid the thickening agent carrageenan due to its inflammatory effect on the gastrointestinal system.
Children 1 -3 require approximately 700 MG calcium a day . There are many sources for calcium which we will cover in subsequent articles but we will try to match cow’s milk calcium and protein to allay any concerns. Fat is another story . We want to improve upon the fat content of cow’s milk.
Please refer to the “ which milk “ blog to view the side by side comparison of milks.
Start with one of these plant milks as your base
Almond milk is a good base and is now widely available however it is lacking in protein and fat during the processing but fortified with adequate calcium. Whenever possible the almond milk should be organic. A simple healthful solution would be to add almond butter or walnut butter or the nuts themselves to get a great source of protein and healthier fat for your heart and brain.
Soy milk. Try to use only organic soy milk. The non- organic processing is the key to most of the problems associated with soy products. Organic soy milk has been shown to be healthy and lend no credence to the misrepresented estrogen effect in real studies or populations which consume substantial amounts of soy products. Organic soy milk best represents a healthier form of milk ingredient per ingredient when compared to whole cow’s milk. The fat is is unsaturated, the protein is less allergenic, and the sugar is not the cow’s milk galactose which has sensitized a sizable percentage of the population. And is generally fortified with the same calcium as cow’s milk. Soy milk after a year of age should be limited to 3-5 servings a day. See blog on “soy” for more information.
Hemp milk – for those who want a closer to plant based milk. Organic as usual. The two main drawbacks for hemp milk is availability and lack of calcium,.Most of the commercial products do not have the same amount of calcium fortified when compared to the other milks. To increase calcium you can add dark greens for more calcium or consult your physician to make sure adequate sources of calcium are eaten by your child in other forms. Hemp milk which actually has omega 3’s and 6’s in the perfect ratio to maximize heart health.
Building a milk
Some basic suggestions of healthy foods you could add to nutritionally enrich any milk beverage. – Avocado with 21 grams of good 17 gm unsaturated fat and 10 gm of fiber.
Flax seed with omega 3 fats and protein and fiber.
Any fruit for flavor and vitamins , and anti inflammatory properties.
Spinach or kale in particular for calcium vitamin a and c, greens and it hides well when blended. even
Nuts for protein cashews have 5 gm per ounce of healthy protein and 12 gm of healthy fat and 0 cholesterol compared to 24 mg for cow’s milk.
Walnuts 12 gm protein, 52 gm fat 4.9 sat/ 45 unsat 5 gm fiber good protein good fat with DHA and omega 3.
Calcium of common greens to add to any base milk
Kale 179 MG calcium cup,
Cooked spinach 245 cooked or 30 MG uncooked,
Broccoli 70 mg,
Collard greens 357 MG,
Broccoli rabe 516.
Sweet potatoes , beans , and grains also contain calcium.
Environmental impact : While it can be said that all forms of milk production are labor intensive and environmentally taxing per calorie consumed ; the methane gas cows produce has been estimated to be 25 x more harmful to our ozone than car emissions.
In the US cow methane is number 2 or 3 behind gasoline use but globally livestock ( primarily cows) is number 1 cause of global warming. Plant milks do use substantial environmental resources especially water , land , and leech nutrients from the soil. But are less harmful overall than livestock.
Healthful MD choice : Build a better milk.To be healthier and leave less of a damaging environmental trace – eat organic fruits and vegetables , drink organic plant milks, and design your own milk beverage to maximize nutritional calories as well as lessen the impact on earth.