Recently, nut milks have become as common as your standard green juice and you may be wondering: Should I jump on the bandwagon?
This recent trend may leave you feeling confused about the role of dairy in your life and as a result, you may have found yourself asking:
Is dairy bad for me?
How will I get my calcium?
My mom says I need it for strong bones!
It’s a good source of protein, right?
These are all great questions and they reflect the American culture we live in today. As I touched on in my Meat Should Be Rare article, our food practices are a result of some of the best marketing campaigns the world has ever seen from the food industry. This includes the most successful campaign tagline of all time: got milk? This campaign was not started with a group of nutritionists or holistic practitioners. Rather, it is the product of the dairy industry that needed to sell more milk due to their practice of conventional mass production.
Bottom line: They wanted to make money. And to ensure a booming business from Americans, they sold us on the message that you cannot live without milk. Everyone should drink milk! Milk has calcium for strong bones and is a great source of protein! How can you say no to this?
They ran expensive ad campaigns and hired professional athletes and icons—paid for with your money—and adorned them with the signature milk mustache. The campaign then got personal with images of mothers feeding children milk and doing what was “best” for their family. Who can blame them?
And the campaign wasn’t all about kids. Adults should drink milk, too! You wouldn’t want to break a leg or develop osteoporosis later on in life- so drink milk!
But hold on a second … how much calcium are we actually getting from this milk? Is milk really the best way to absorb calcium, and is that the only thing that matters for bone health?
As it turns out, calcium levels in milk can’t be fully absorbed by the body because other nutrients crucial to absorption are not present in milk. And if your milk is fortified with vitamin D etc, this means it was artificially manipulated with lab-made nutrients. In addition, conventional milk contains hormones and antibiotics that the cows are injected with, plus herbicides and pesticides from the GMO-raised corn they eat (they evolved with 4 stomaches so they could eat grass BTW). So if you do consume dairy, grass-fed is a must!
But what if you cut out diary all together? Will your bones wither away? Will you get osteoporosis?
No—actually the opposite will happen! Milk is very acidic and inflammatory to the body, and it actually creates porous bones. The more porous the bone, the more fragile, and by definition this is the onset of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is not going away and in fact, it is becoming more and more common in younger people!
In terms of the PH composition, milk it is thought to be basic (or alkaline) but it in fact is extremely acidic when digested. (The opposite is true for lemons: They are acidic but once digested they are alkalizing to the system.) Dairy inflames the gut (intestines) and contributes to everything from acne to eczema to IBS, arthritis, leaky gut, autoimmune diseases, and more. Whatever ailment you may suffer from, reducing or negating your diary consumption will reduce your inflammation and at the very least reduce the severity of your condition.
But let’s face it. Milk is involved in some pretty amazing foods. On special occasions, I do consume dairy products. But I have noticed that I break out on my face 3-5 days after consuming dairy. And if something is showing up on your face or your skin that means there is inflammation and an imbalance in your gut. Cutting out dairy and gluten—two of the most inflammatory foods—should greatly decrease and potentially even eliminate the symptoms of your ailment.
Now where will your calcium come from if you decide to negate or minimize dairy?
Remember those beautiful dark leafy green vegetables? They are packed with calcium! And not just calcium but magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamins K, D, & C, which are all equally responsible for bone structure. Recent studies have actually found that osteoporosis is “scurvy” of the bones. So vitamin C is very important for bone health. But remember that antioxidants work better as a team and you can read more about this in my Rainbows and Cancer article. So here is just more reason to receive your calcium through vegetables rather than dairy.
And if you are looking for a milk replacement, nut milks are a great alternative and a great source of plant-based protein. You can make milks out of any nut or seed you like, and they can substitute milk in everything from your morning cuppa to baking a cake. Because nuts and seeds are products of a plant, you’re also getting additional benefits like fiber, essential fatty acids, omega 3s, vitamins, and minerals. The same just can’t be said about animal-based foods.
And if you’re someone who eats yogurt everyday, remember that almost all of the yogurts in grocery stores are laden with sugar and artificial colors and flavors. So make sure you are eating yogurt or kefir from a trustworthy company or—better yet—your local farmer! Yogurts and kefirs provide amazing pre- and probiotic benefits, as do other fermented foods with gut-healthy bacterial cultures like kimchee, sauerkraut, or anything pickled. And eating pickled vegetables means you are benefiting from the probiotics while eating more veggies!
All roads lead to Rome and back to the simplicity of eating whole, plant-based foods. There are so many benefits to eating whole fruits and vegetables that I actually feel guilty pointing out individual nutrients because that’s not the whole picture or what food and health should be about. We need to broaden our scope of a healthy lifestyle and simply say, “I am going to eat REAL plant-based food.” Through this lifestyle you’ll enjoy a life with less inflammation and more nourishment!
Below is a recipe for any kind of nut or seed milk you would like to make. Notice that soaking your nuts and seeds is important for things like shelling and blending but also for eliminating digestive blocking enzymes!
Soak… Blend… Squeeze!
- 1 cup nuts or seeds, soaked overnight (almonds, cashews, walnuts, hemp, etc)
- 4 cups filtered water Optional:
- pinch of Himalayan salt
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- The night before, soak nuts or seeds in a bowl of water.
- The next day, drain and rinse the nuts and seeds. The soaking process creates a much softer nut or seed which will blend smoother and eliminates digestive blocking enzymes. *Almonds: after your almonds are soaked, take each one and squeeze it between your fingers. The skin of the nut will slide off! Doing this ensures a perfectly white milk as well as discarding the skin which can inhibit enzyme digestion.
- Add the nuts or seeds into a blender with filtered water. Optional to add salt, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla.
- Blend on high for 1 minute until it resembles milk.
- Lay a large piece of cheese cloth over a large bowl. Carefully pour nut milk over the cheese cloth and gather all corners and edges in your hands. Allow the milk to drain of out the cheese cloth and over time you can squeeze it until you are left with ball of pulp.
- Store your milk in a jar or bottle and keep in your refrigerator for 5 days.
If you enjoyed this recipe I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and be sure to share with family and friends.