Friday, January 22, 2016

How haters are incorrectly using almond milk

New stories keep creeping up and everyone seems to love bashing almond milk and other nut-based beverages. So what's the deal? Why all the haters?

There's a huge misunderstanding in the public's nutritional education. We grew up being told that milk "does a body good". We were told to wean our babies off of breastmilk and onto cow milk, and that dairy is required for calcium for our bones. Well, we know they weren't exactly correct about this one. But this isn't a "dairy-bashing" blog either.

What is (any) milk good for? Remember, we grew up putting milk in our cereal. It was a rule in my house to "drink milk with your meals", and a "double-double" at Timmy's trained me to always drink my coffee with milk it in. But since my early 20's I've been lactose-intolerant. Out goes all my dairy, and now what's a girl to think?

With enough vitamin D, weight-bearing exercise and a healthy diet (lots of veggies for vitamin and mineral support), my bones will be just fine. But it always helps to have beverages that are fortified with extra calcium and vitamin D just in case we don't meet our quotas for the day.

Almond milk isn't a "health food" necessarily. It's a substitute for those of us who want something with that "creamy/milky"-type of consistency and flavour. I drink my coffee black now, but every once in a while whisking in a little coconut milk makes for a nice creamy treat. And almond milk? It's a nice alternative to plain water (or cow milk) for making my smoothies and post-workout shakes.

What almond milk is not:
1) A good source of protein:
Seriously, to make almond milk you soak the almonds, drain them, combine with water in a blender, strain them and press out the "milk" from the almond paste and that's about it. I read a crazy article in which the company Almond Breeze was being sued for how few almonds were in their almond milk. Well... duh. What did you think you were drinking? It's not a liquid trail-mix.

2) A substitute for breastmilk or any infant formula.
I hope this is common sense, but according to an article on IFLS a doctor in Spain told their patient to use almond milk as a formula. This parent had never breastfed their infant and instead had given her baby cow's milk for the first 2.5 months. The problem here is a lack in education for new mothers. This story also came out of Spain so I can't comment on the availability of education for new parents as I really don't know. Either way, the whole thing is ridiculous - IFLS commented "... this latest report highlights the need for parents to take into consideration the nutritional content when choosing a diet for their infants", but seriously? Choosing a diet for your infant: Breastmilk or formula (breast is best, but there are some circumstances that may prevent this). At 6-8 months, or when your kid hints that they're ready, you can slowly introduce solid foods in the form of mashed up veggies (baby food). What isn't an option is choosing a "milk-substitute" as an infant formula. And most companies will actually print on the carton "NOT TO BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR INFANT FORMULA".

Almond milk isn't the bad-guy here, and sorry IFLS (I really do effing love science!), but it also doesn't cause scurvy as your article title implies.  It's a lack of education and really bad advice from a doctor.

What almond milk is:
1) A substitute for milk for those who can't drink it but like to use it in stuff like: coffee, tea, granola/cereal, baking, smoothies/shakes.

Haters, please don't hate on the almond milk. You're just not using it correctly. Please leave it for us lactose-intolerants (or dairy-sensitives) who just want something creamier than water in our smoothies and a splash of something white in our coffee.