Thursday, September 26, 2013

Milk War: Almond vs. Soy vs. Cow

Ever since I changed my milk-drinking and dairy-consuming habits, I noticed a very drastic change in my body. Even while taking in the same amount of calories, my hips got slimmer and I felt like I had more energy.

For my entire life, I've been in love with 1% or 2% standard cow's milk. Just like many of you, I was always told, "Drink your milk! You need strong bones!"

But after much experimentation and research, I've come to the conclusion that a milk-heavy diet just ain't gonna cut it anymore. What first turned me on to this belief was the New York Times Bestseller Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. They are a no-bullshit health duo and these ladies aren't trying to save your feelings... they're trying to save your body!

As they say, "If you can't take one more day of self-loathing, you're ready to hear the truth: you cannot keep shoveling the same crap into your mouth every day and expect to lose weight."

Is milk making you fat?


Here's what the authors of Skinny Bitch have to say about dairy consumption:

"When a woman gives birth, her body produces milk and she nurses her child. Breast milk can grow an 8-pound newborn into a 24-pound toddler. Sounds pretty fattening, huh? It is. By design, it is intended to allow for the biggest growth spurt of a person’s entire life. Breast milk alone can accommodate for a 300 percent weight gain in a 12 month period. When her child is anywhere from 12 to 24 months old, a mother stops breast feeding. Her milk dries up. The child will never drink breast milk ever again.

Cows, like all mammals, are much the same. Their bodies produce milk only when they give birth. Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to be milked – ever. Their udders, like women’s breasts, exist even when there is no milk in them. There is one major difference, however. Cows’ milk, by design, grows a 90-pound calf into a 2,000-pound cow over the course of 2 years. It allows calves to double their birth weight in forty-seven days and leaves their four stomachs feeling full. Sounds even more fattening than human milk, right? It is. It should be. Cows are bigger than humans. And the inner workings of their bodies are completely different than ours, which they should be. They are cows. We are humans. Duh."

That whole, "Got Milk" campaign? Well, the dairy industry isn't going to bluntly tell you milk is bad for you, because that's kind of bad for business...

And I still do recall a few very useful facts from my college bio class regarding the lactase enzyme... of course babies are chock-full of it, because this particular enzyme is used to break down lactose in milk. But as we age, we develop less and less of the stuff, which is called being "lactose intolerant." Well, once upon a time, we were all lactose intolerant... and actually, many of you may be consuming milk and may be lactose intolerant at the same time, we just don't know it. Ever feel overly lethargic, bloated, slightly queasy? Yep... all signs of your intolerance to milk!

If you don't believe me, trying staving off of dairy products for a few weeks and I bet you'll feel incredible.

Milk actually depletes Calcium


There's also a study done by Vivian Goldschmidt, MA, explaining that milk might not be as calcium-rich as we originally thought:

"...many scientific studies have shown an assortment of detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. And the most surprising link is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. What an irony this is! 
Here’s how it happens. Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. You see, calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is – you guessed it… in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.
Knowing this, you’ll understand why statistics show that countries with the lowest consumption of dairy products also have the lowest fracture incidence in their population."

And according to NaturalNews.com, the pasteurization process of milk actually destroys much of its nutritional benefit, because it destroys digestive enzymes like lactase, galactase and phosphatase, which causes milk to be especially hard for our bodies to break down.

So which is a better substitute... soy or almond milk?


Here is a very brief comparison to help you decide:

Soy Milk
  • 100 calories to every cup & 4 grams of fat
  • 7 to 8 grams of protein
  • High levels of Vitamin B

Almond Milk: 
  • 60 calories to every cup & 2.5 grams of fat
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 6% of our daily serving of phosphorus
  • High levels of Vitamin E

Based on this bit of info, it's obvious that soy milk is a better source of protein, but almond milk is better for dieters because of its low content of fat. 

Flickr: theimpulsivebuy

My Winner: Almond Milk


While it's great to receive so much protein through soy milk, the harmful effects that it can have on your health aren't worth it to me. Plus, research surrounding almonds has shown no serious health threats.


The health concerns of soy include: 
  • "... potential ability to disrupt hormone production in men and women. Since almonds have shown no sort of potential risk, many people feel much more comfortable consuming products derived from the snack nut." - 3fatchicks.com
  • "Soy milk contains phytoestrogen, a hormone similar to estrogen. Phytoestrogens may have an effect on hormone-related cancers, particularly breast cancer and prostate cancer." - Livestrong.com
  • According to the American Thyroid Association, soy milk may negatively intervene with your ability to absorb thyroid medication. 

So although it's nice to pack so much protein into one cup of soy milk, I think I'd rather look elsewhere for protein and avoid all of these risks. Plus, I'll be cutting 40% of the calories that I would have consumed had I chosen soy milk. 

So almond milk all the way, baby! 

One small problem: cost


This is the one issue that I ran into when I decided to switch from milk to almond milk. 

But I do have a solution. Aldi carries Friendly Farms vanilla-flavored almond milk, only $2.39 for a half-gallon. 

That's incredible compared to, for instance, Almond Breeze at about $3.49 for only a 1/4 gallon.




Happy milking!


I hope that my research on these milk matters has inspired you to try giving up your regular consumption of milk and experiment with one of these alternatives. My biggest point against standard milk is that human beings simply aren't naturally built to consume it. And in terms of soy, it's simply too high-risk because of the health problems it can potentially cause. 

So use almond milk with your cereal or substitute it into your mashed potato recipe. I know, I know... it's not the same. And sometimes change can be difficult... but change can also be inspiring. It can lead to a stronger you and isn't that what we all strive to be? Stronger and healthier? Well, by "moo-ving" the milk out of your refrigerator, you'll be "moo-ving" towards a better you! Good luck!

~Life in the fit lane~


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