Special Q&A Edition: What to Drink Instead of Milk

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

December 13, 2013

  • Why lactose intolerance is the norm
  • The best animal source of digestible milk
  • Are these dairy products really safe?

Not long ago, I offered many ideas on what to drink instead of milk. And boy! The questions have been pouring in ever since. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an overwhelming response to one of my issues in Advanced Natural Wellness.

So today I’m going to do things a little differently. I’m going to dedicate this issue to answering all of your questions.

One thing came to light almost immediately.

It seems like a lot of folks are concerned about not getting enough milk in their diets… or afraid they’ll miss out on some health benefit from it. So let me address this before diving into some of the more specific questions.

You’ve probably heard that humans are the only species on earth that continue to drink milk after infancy. And that’s true.

However, we would be much better off following the instincts of the animal world.

You see, our bodies are designed to stop digesting milk between the ages of two and five. That’s when our bodies quit producing the enzyme (lactase) that digests the main sugar (lactose) that’s found in milk.

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For a long time scientists thought this was some sort of disorder. And it was given the label of “lactose intolerance.”

Now we’ve discovered lactose intolerance is our normal state. We really aren’t supposed to be able to digest milk once we pass infancy!

Instead, it turns out people who keep producing lactase – and who can continue to digest milk as they age – are the ones who are abnormal. These people have an unusual gene mutation that started off in a group of European dairy farmers many centuries ago.

Even though this variant has spread throughout the ages, more than 60% of people worldwide still can’t digest the lactose in milk. And it’s perfectly normal.

In other words, you aren’t going to miss out on anything at all if you don’t drink cow’s milk. But if you do, you’ll be putting things in your body that could result in weight problems, brittle bones and even cancer.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of your other questions…

Q: Cow’s milk may not be the best thing to consume, but the alternatives are many times more expensive. Any non-expensive options?

Answer: I understand that the cost of purchasing healthy foods is a concern for many people. In today’s economy, everyone is looking to shave a buck off their expenses wherever they can. But your food budget isn’t the place to do it.

Eating and drinking less healthy foods because they are cheap is eventually going to catch up with you. Especially when it comes to your health. And once you start racking up medical bills associated with poor food choices it will quickly shrink your bank account.

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So it might cost a little more right now. But it will be well worth it as you age. Just think of it as an investment in your health and your retirement account.

Q: What do you have to say about goat’s milk? Is it easier to digest?

Answer: If you choose to stick with milk from an animal source, goat’s milk is definitely much better for you than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains casein as its form of protein. And in humans, casein can create many of the same cravings as wheat, with many of the same negative health effects.

Goat’s milk also contains casein, but it’s a much friendlier form. It’s also easier for the human body to digest.

Q: What about yogurt? Is it okay to eat?

Answer: While yogurt isn’t something you drink, I realize many people have been drawn into the supposed health benefits of eating this dairy product on a regular basis. So this question certainly deserves a response.

The truth is I’m not crazy about what food manufacturers are doing with yogurt these days. They are throwing in sugar, HFCS, flavorings, preservatives, colorings and all sorts of other additives. Just as importantly, most yogurts don’t contain enough bacteria to support the health benefits touted in television commercials.

That being said, if you’re a yogurt lover it’s important to make healthy decisions. Stick with a plain Greek yogurt that doesn’t have a bunch of sugars and other additives. Top it with fresh fruits, nuts and berries to sweeten it up to your liking.

Now, these were important questions, but the best is yet to come. Just take a look at what a few more ANM readers wanted to know more about…

Q: Is soybean milk made from organic non-GMO another good alternative milk source? Do you agree with the theory that too much soy is bad for men because it acts like estrogen?

Answer: If you go this route, it’s absolutely necessary to buy an organic brand that’s certified non-GMO. This is very important, since about 93% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically altered.

And yes! I do recommend that men avoid soy – whether in milk form or otherwise. Soy products contain plant-based estrogens called isoflavones which mimic estrogen in the body. This has a feminizing effect in males and reduces testosterone levels.

Q: What do you think about kefir?

Answer: I’m glad somebody asked this question, because it’s something I failed to address in my original article.

I’m entirely on board with kefir. It’s a fermented dairy drink. And that makes all of the difference in the world. Unlike regular cow’s milk, kefir introduces natural bacterium that really does “do a body good.” It can even be easily digested by people who have problems breaking down lactose.

Kefir is made by combining milk with kefir grains, which are rich in lactobacillus bacteria. When you drink it, the bacteria takes up residence in your intestines where it gobbles up lactose and sugars. To top it off, it’s a rich source of easily digestible protein, vitamins and minerals.

Q: Is hemp milk safe for those with Celiac disease?

Answer: This is another very important question since Celiac’s have a problem with cow’s milk. The problem is pretty simple. The casein in cow’s milk acts very much like gluten. This can cause complications for those with Celiac disease. And it is why Celiac’s are often advised to stick with plant-based milks.

Hemp milk is gluten and casein free. Rice, almond and coconut milk are also free of these compounds. So this gives you plenty of healthy alternatives.

I have to admit. I thoroughly enjoyed answering your questions and providing further insight into the problem with drinking cow’s milk.

So don’t be shy! Your concerns, feedback and questions are my top priority.

Resources:
Itan Y, Powell A, Beaumont MA, Burger J, Thomas MG (2009) The Origins of Lactase Persistence in Europe. PLoS Comput Biol 5(8): e1000491.

Goodin S, Shen F, Shih WJ, Dave N, Kane MP, Medina P, Lambert GH, Aisner J, Gallo M, DiPaola RS. Clinical and biological activity of soy protein powder supplementation in healthy male volunteers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Apr;16(4):829-33

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