Monthly Archives: September 2015

Build a better milk

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.


Which milk does a body good ?

All information in this post is the opinion of the author. All decisions regarding food choices should be the responsibility of the individual,  parents and your physician.  This post should serve as a guide and not medical care. Information here is based on personal experience,  individual preference,  reviews of respected research and experts opinions.

One of the main questions Pediatricians receive regularly is “When do I switch my child from formula or breast milk to cow’s milk?”

The  answer ( in the US) to this question has traditionally been whole cow’s milk.

But  a new paradigm is taking hold and the question has changed from when to switch to which  milk to switch to.

And now with so many choices of milk these days parents pose the question differently and want to know if they “can introduce more than just one milk ?”.

Can’t we treat it like any healthy beverage and have a child get used to a variety of tastes and types of milk?”  

Why can’t milk be a part of a wide variety of healthful options for our children?

The medical community myself included, have been steadfast in dedication to whole cow’s milk as the nutritional beverage of choice at a year and 2 % at 2 .

It is a perplexing issue for us Pediatricians who are given the scepter of decision to change from medical tradition which we have been promoting as medical science and truth, relying on the assumption that cow’s milk has the necessary nutritional qualities for our children and ourselves. But as parents are learning more about the health issues associated with cow’s milk there is increasing interest in choosing a healthier milk drink. Parents are doing their searches and concluding that standard cow’s milk may not be their choice of drink for their children . As guardians of health we cannot be complacent and hide behind what we have traditionally recommended with very little critical or scientific proof. We have to do our own due diligence and offer educated and informed advice for proper nutrition based on real science.

    With informed choice a parent can develop their child’s taste for many different healthful milk and smoothie beverages while adding natural organic foods to enhance the nutrition . You do not have to stick to the old single cow’s milk view for your child. You can base your milk choice on your child’s nutritional needs, allergies , and sensitivities, with the assistance of your Pediatrician. There are many ways to get healthy protein, fat, and calcium other than cow’s milk. There is really no scientific proof that the protein, calcium, or fat from cow’s milk is a superior source of nutrition for a growing child than from other sources.

    See the table below to get a better idea of the main nutrients in various milk. Mix and match . Try several different tastes.  As in all foods,  introduce one new milk type at a time. In subsequent articles we will review the benefit and problems with each milk type.

Look for the next article to see which milk I recommend and “ How to build a better Milk”.

  1 cup                                             Protein                  fat: sat/unsat           calcium       sugar

Cow’s milk       8 gm 8    4.6/2.5 305 mg 12 gm
Almond milk       1gm 3: .0/3 200 mg 10 gm
Soy milk       6.6 gm 4:  0.5/3 299 mg 9 gm
Hemp milk        5 gm 7:   1/6 20  mg 5 gm
Goat’s milk        8.7 gm 10: 6.5/3 327 mg 10.9 gm
Rice milk         0 gm 2 : 0/ 2 20mg 0
Coconut milk         6 gm 57: 51/3 38.4 8 gm

Sat- saturated fat is the fat that raises cholesterol causing inflammation and clogs arteries and not considered optimal for brain growth. We want to keep this type of fat ( generally animal fat) to a minimum. There is really no value to have this fat in our children’s milk  . Unsaturated plant fat can actually be helpful for nutrition and our overall heart health as we grow while still giving a better fat for brain development. There are a number of foods which are well documented to offer better fat and protein source than cow’s milk for our child’s diet.

These milks should only be part of a well balanced diet. Please consult your physician since each child and adult have different nutritional needs.  For instance almond milk has lower calories and less protein. Cow’s milk has more protein but unhealthy fat. Soy milk has more of what we need,  but the concern over the estrogen effect on girls and boys is pervasive with little real research.  

Healthful MD’s view is to look at the entirety of your child’s diet. Choose the milk or milks according to a child’s nutritional needs, health, and possible sensitivities . Then add foods or healthy ingredients to maximize healthful nutrients either to their diet or to their milk.

See next blog for guidance on how to” Build a better milk”


Boosting the immune system to fight colds and illness.

How do we build up our children’s immune system during cold and flu season

       One of the most common questions I get each year particularly with young children entering school is “How do we keep my child from getting sick all the time and build up their immune system?”. Generally my answer is “every child gets sick almost constantly at a rate of about every other week when starting school” . You have to catch the germs in order to build up an immunity and be able to fight it next time. But it does not stop the parents frustration and their constant quest for that magic remedy to build up their immune system so they do not get sick or at least fight the viruses better. There is no shortage of supplement companies, snake oil salesman, and wannabe physicians promoting their short cut to immune stardom. Basically my advice is old fashioned grandma like advice which always included fresh air, go to the ocean ( living in South Florida is easy), exercise, eat your vegetables, chicken soup, don’t eat so much candy, and get plenty of sleep. Well, things have not changed that much with all our searches, supplements, and advances in medical science. I believe premier nutrition and healthy lifestyle is your best means to a good immune system and ability to stave off disease and fight the common childhood ailments. Junk foods, fried foods, processed sweets and snacks at the very least do not help your immune system and conservatively speaking cause more inflammation and irritation when you need to be fighting viruses. 

     Eating well is the cornerstone of good health and immunity. This is easier said than done for children. For those patients and families familiar with my feeding guidelines you have a head start. But eating well is none the less the best way to begin to build a strong immune system. Prevention starts with good food including – lots of greens , sweet potatoes,  fruits , apples with red skin, red onions, and purple and red fruits for example.  Lots of fiber.  Making sure your are hydrated with lots of water.

Organic food itself is the best way to get the vitamins and phytonutrients to boost immunity and keep it at peak in cold and flu season in order to be ready for the influx of germs.
    Dark fruits have the best and most bio-available vitamin c, and phytonutrients. ( vitamin        supplements do not)

Eat them– eating the fruits is the best source of these immune building nutrients –                    blueberries, pomegranate,  cherries, raspberries,  dark grapes, etc.

Juice them– dark juice as a second choice if they won’t eat the fruit. Blueberry juice , pomegranate , dark grape,  or tomato juice.

Blend them and hide them- Super power HealthfulMD immune smoothie – base of almond, hemp, or soy milk; walnuts, avocado , super greens ( if they don’t like green vegetables- you can buy in health food stores ), spinach hides the best, and also kale. Blueberries, strawberries , bananas, peach , pineapple, or cocoa powder for sweetener. Flax seeds  for fiber and  omega 3, mushroom, ginger , cinnamon help boost the immunity.

Super power soup before or during illness. Vegetable soup or chicken soup base : add mushrooms , garlic , turmeric as tolerated, oregano in good amount, greens if liked by child – kale,  spinach, broccoli,  broccoli sprouts, sweet potatoes,  spices as tolerated -chili peppers,  cumin, and ginger.

Probiotics may help. If you or your child is a healthy eater particularly vegetarian style or for a healthy vegan probiotics may not be necessary or beneficial . The type of probiotics depends on the system you want to enhance . Gastrointestinal symptoms would be one type  and  upper respiratory ( colds) would be another form to use . Types of probiotics include lactobacillus acidophillis, and bifid bacterium. Look for recommendations in future blog posts.  Ask your physician for safety of any supplement and probiotics and their recommendations.

Sleep is essential to maintaining health- children 8-9 hours  
Manage stress – lavender,  chamomile. Exercise, yoga, meditate.

Tea– as calming and immune boosting
    Hibiscus – mix with ginger.
    Other red rooibos teas are sweet and may be more palatable for children.
    Green tea – honey , lemon and add ginger and cinnamon
    Chamomile tea has both calming and immune enhancement
Nutritional yeast – tablespoon a day increase immunity

Supplements: not medically researched or approved but have anecdotal improvement in immunity.

Immunoberry supplement

Eldeberry. Astralagus, Grape seed extract,  Oil of oregano all are purported to have immune enhancing properties to fight and ward off colds.