Do you want or need to stop drinking milk? If so, then you should consider a milk-free diet. People go on this diet for different reasons. For example, some people have a food allergy like being lactose intolerant, so they want to avoid the side-effects of consuming dairy. Fun Fact: About one-quarter of the world is vegetarian/vegan. Vegans don’t consume any animal products, including milk and eggs. Others just want to avoid drinking milk, because they think it should only be consumed by baby cows. There are many reasons why people decide to stop drinking milk and look for alternatives to consume.
Going dairy-free can provide several benefits. They include reducing symptoms like breathing, skin, and digestion problems. It might even help to prevent serious diseases like certain kinds of cancer. Another major benefit involves people with food allergies or lactose intolerance. It can cause many symptoms when consuming dairy products like bloating and LBM. There are even social/environmental benefits of going dairy-free like more happy cows and being eco-friendly. After deciding to ditch dairy, you’ll also have to consider alternatives, including milk made from soy, coconuts, and almonds. If you’re not vegan, then you also have lower-lactose options like goat milk.
Top Reasons for Milk Free Diet
1. Lactose Intolerance
Lactose is a sugar that’s found in milk and dairy. The small intestine creates an enzyme known as lactase. It breaks down lactose into blood sugar so the body can then absorb it. When people’s bodies can’t break down lactose, they’re lactose intolerant. When they consume cow’s milk, they experience different digestive problems like bloating and LBM. This health condition is quite common and affects up to three-quarters of people around the world.
People can have different degrees of lactose intolerance. For example, some people don’t get sick if they eat breakfast cereal with milk, while others can’t digest any milk at all.
2. Food Allergy
This term is often used to refer to people who are lactose intolerance but there’s a difference. What’s the difference? Lactose intolerance is about the body’s ability to break down lactose.
Meanwhile, milk protein allergies are related to the immune system’s reaction to 1+ milk proteins. That makes up about 60% of people’s reactions to cow’s milk.
This food allergy can cause different symptoms. They include ones that affect digestion, breathing, and skin. This condition affects up to 3% of the population and is highest among infants. Milk allergies might be rising due to lower rates of breastfeeding today and higher rates of formulas that are cow’s milk-based.
People often mix up the terms vegetarian and vegan. Vegetarians specifically avoid eating meat like pork, beef, and chicken. Meanwhile, vegans don’t eat any meat or animal products, including milk and eggs.
This is important when looking for cow’s milk substitutes. That’s because options like sheep and goat milk are off the table since they’re still animal-based milk. Vegans would also tend to avoid other choices like kefir, which is a fermented dairy product.
Milk-Free Diet: Cow’s Milk Alternatives
1. Almond Milk
Almonds are considered a “superfood” and provide many benefits. They’re low in saturated fats and high in healthy fatty acids. They’re also chock-full of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. These nuts also help detoxify the body and boost the growth of “good” bacteria.
2. Soy milk
If you want a milk alternative that’s very cow’s milk-like then this soybean product is a good option. You can get it in regular and sweetened/flavored types. That includes vanilla and chocolate.
One of the top benefits of this milk substitute is the nutritional value is close to cow’s milk. It’s sky-high in protein and often fortified with Vitamins A/D and calcium. Soy milk is also high in something called “isoflavones,” which are good for heart health.
3. Coconut milk
That is one of the best options if you’re looking for a cow’s milk substitute. This liquid is found in the coconut “meat.” When you remove the water from the meat, you get a thick liquid that’s milk-like.
One drawback of this option is it’s lower in protein/calcium than cow’s milk. So, you’ll want to eat high calcium-foods like broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage.
4. Rice Milk
This milk substitute is made from sources like boiled rice and brown rice starch. A big benefit is it’s one of the most hypoallergenic options. So, it’s very unlikely to trigger food allergies.
5. Flax Milk
This milk alternative is made from flaxseeds. It’s a little sweet and thin. Flax milk is a good option for blood vessels and heart health.
It is a fermented milk product so you should avoid it if you’re vegan. However, if you’re lactose intolerant and non-vegan it’s a good option. Fermented milk is somewhat lower in lactose so it’s easier to digest for people with this condition.
Risks of Calcium Supplements
If you want to remove milk from your diet, then you might consider taking calcium supplements instead of getting calcium and Vitamin D from foods.
First, it’s critical to keep in mind that real food is always the best source of nutrients. For example, some people think they can eat unhealthy food all day then take a multivitamin to stay healthy. That’s not how it works.
It doesn’t mean you should never take calcium supplements or other other-the-counter (OTC) supplements. However, the first option should always be to get nutrients from food instead of a tablet made in a factory.
If you opt to ditch cow’s milk, cheese, and yogurt, then you’ll need to get calcium from other sources. Calcium isn’t just important for strong bones and teeth. It’s also used to control the blood’s levels of minerals like potassium and magnesium.
There’s a lot of debate about the use of calcium supplements. Some studies have linked these calcium sources to health conditions like a higher risk of heart attacks, stroke, and some kinds of cancer.
Another possible problem is calcium supplements can also make some prescription drugs less effective. It can also cause side-effects including serious ones.
It’s better to get your calcium from real food. A good example is a kale, spinach, and collard greens. These foods are nutrient-rich and low-carb. If you’re on diets like Atkins or Keto they’re a good option to make sure you’re picking high-nutrient and low-carb foods.
There’s also an X-factor. Food is a better source then drinks for calcium because your body absorbs them better. You’ll have to consume less food like broccoli than soy milk to get all the calcium your body needs. So, if you want to maximize health benefits consider high-calcium foods as part of your milk-free diet.