Many people switch to nut milk in pursuit of healthier options, completely unaware of some companies using ingredients that are highly inflammatory for your intestinal tract and harmful to your gut microbes.
It seems like everyday, more people are ditching cow’s milk and switching to healthier options, like nut milk. With increased demand comes increased supply, so many mainstream food brands are now marketing nut milk of every variety. Many people switch to nut milk in pursuit of healthier options, completely unaware of some companies using ingredients that are highly inflammatory for your intestinal tract and harmful to your gut microbes.This should be a good thing…but it’s not. While you’d might think consumers should be able to waltz into any grocery store and not have to worry about what the hell is in our food, that world just doesn’t exist anymore. The food industry is a massive business and, like many other businesses, it’s more concerned with product sale than people’s health. The simple truth is not all dairy-free milks are created equal, but there’s something you can do about it.
GET CHOOSY: NOT ALL INGREDIENTS ARE CREATED EQUAL:
The fact that we can’t count on the food industry to provide 100% healthy ingredients in our food literally spins me into Rage Monster mode. I used to blindly assume larger companies put their products through higher standards of testing, packaging, and producing. Guess what, Buttercup? There’s a long list of harmful ingredients that have the green-light go from the FDA. While these ingredients are massively damaging to your body, they make production of food cheaper and easier. So how do you make sure your dairy free milk isn’t doing a number on your gut microbes? Here are a few steps to follow:
PLAY DETECTIVE: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR NUT MILK
1. Organic vs. nonorganic: it’s a no brainer these days that organic is best. The reason isn’t just so we can avoid crazy chemicals and other horrible things that end up in our food. Organic soil tends to have a significantly higher percent of minerals and nutrients that end up in our food.
2. Water quality: Don’t even get me started on city tap water. It’s so vile, I can practically taste the hundred year old pipes and other gross things you know have just seeped right into the water. Most companies are not making their nut milk in the pristine hills of Wyoming, so unless your brand of nut milk specifies using filtered water, you can assume it’s vile city tap water. Nut milks are predominantly of water, so choose a brand that uses filtered water. If you make your own but milk, definitely avoid tap water.
Oh, and here’s a completely random side tip: use filtered water for your coffee and it will taste magical. A barista told me the secret to a great cuppa joe (under duress, of course. Those barista’s guard their coffee secrets like a dragon sitting on gold).
3. Free of sweeteners and sugar: an appalling amount of dairy free products use massive amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners. While most of us might not want to cut sugar out from our diet entirely, we can certainly be savvy about when we consume it and how much we put in our bodies.
AVOIDANCE IS SOMETIMES A GOOD COPING METHOD:
Some of the ingredients in nut milk that will do a number on your gut health. And since we all know now that gut health > everything, it’s crucial to find nut milk free of the following:
1. Soy anything, (including soy milk) unless it’s specifically GMO free. Even if it is, be aware that soy products can increase estrogen in both men and women.
2. Gum: avoid gummy ingredients like that crazy ex you had back in college. I mean, throw that carton back on the shelf and turn tale and RUN. But do it subtly so the people at Whole Foods won’t think you’re a lunatic.
3. Xantham Gum, Locust Bean Gum, or Gellan Gum: these ingredients are used as thickeners, and they can drastically alter your gut’s health. Not ALL gum is bad for you though, as studies have shown ones like Organic Guar Guam doesn’t seem to harm the body.
4. Carrageenan: this ingredient is sneaky and gets by a lot of health savvy people, because it’s “natural.” It comes from a red algae plant, and it’s is used to thicken nut milks. Here’s the bad news: carrageenan is not only highly indigestible, but it’s a known carcinogen. Carrageenan also wreak havoc on the body by creating ulcerations and inflammation of the intestinal tract. I mean, honestly people, what’s a girl gotta do to get a decent cup o’ nut milk?!
Don’t worry, I won’t throw all that cancer/inflammation talk at you and then leave you stranded. There are two options for ensuring your nut milk is healthy AF:
1. Make your own: this is surprisingly easy and homemade nut milk tastes like…well, the milk of the gods. I don’t know. It tastes magical, that’s what I’m getting at. Try my favorite recipe and see for yourself.
2. Choose a reliable brand:
- Forager Project
- Califia Farms
- So Delicious (NOTE: not all of SD’s products are carrageenan-free, but they are actively working on removing this ingredient from all their products. Read labels to be sure. At the time of this post, their desserts still contain carrageenan.)
While it can be frustrating that not all food brands are reliable, it is also empowering to know we have a choice about what we put in our bodies. Stay savvy and be smart about what you purchase. You only have one body, so treat it right.