I read an article recently about how great almond milk is and now my ego says hey I have this belief that almond milk is good and regular milk is bad so I start drinking almond milk.Then I see all the juice shops making shakes/smoothies with almond milk so it reinforces my belief that I should drink almond milk. Then I start to see all these posts on social media by fitness gurus who drink almond milk. Do I feel better drinking almond milk? Do I feel worse drinking almond milk? Doesn’t matter, it is what I believe I should be doing and various things that I see and read each day keep re-enforcing this belief. So, I will be drinking almond milk until I am programmed to change my beliefs about almond milk. 

I like asking people why they believe certain things about health and nutrition and my rant above kind of sums it up. Hopefully the coming blurb is enough to de-program you or at least get you to question your beliefs.  I don’t like blanket statements about health but what’s the problem with almond milk (and most non-dairy milk products for that matter).

Problem number one is that they contain very little nutrition. Take a look at the label on most nut milks, oat milks, soy milks, etc and they are all fortified with various vitamins and minerals. Why would they do this? Because the milk itself contains very few nutrients and so they fortify it with synthetic vitamins and minerals. Many of these synthetic vitamins and minerals are very low quality and can’t be absorbed by the body. They may even be gut irritants.

Problem number two is that most non-dairy milk products contain additives known as “gums”. They come in various forms -  locust bean gum, guar gum, xanthum gum, etc.  Also watch out for an ingredient called carageenan which falls into the same category.  I would classify these as intestinal irritants and possibly carcinogens. Funny story, I was on a trip through the middle of nowhere in western ny and I spot a gluten free cafe. I was shocked to see a place like this in this location and seemed like a good time for a cappuccino and maybe a snack. This is not an article about gluten, but many commercial gluten free bread and cookie products also commonly include the “gums" I mention above. I am curious so I ask the women at the counter if she uses gums in her products and she goes on to tell me that she had a long career as a food scientist and her daughter was diagnosed with celiac and that she got real into nutrition as it pertains to health and gluten free etc. Note that I said nutrition as it pertains to health and not nutrition as it pertains to business (food scientists are often employed by big corporations). She went on to say that any food scientist will tell you that “gums” are known intestinal irritants and are a major driver in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and many gut issues. This interaction really stroked my ego as I have been telling people to avoid gums for years. Why the heck would companies use gums then? The world is changing, more people want health products, supply issues, raw materials like almonds are more expensive, margins, P&L, etc. Money is the primary driver and not your health. 

Problem number three is the environmental impact of growing almonds. Many of which are grown in california and the tremendous amount of water required to meet the growing demand for almonds/almond milk is kind of ridiculous. There have been numerous articles on this topic lately so you can google if you are interested.

You don’t have to believe what I am telling you but at least question your beliefs. If I have convinced you then my suggestion would be to avoid almond milk and other non-dairy milks because they contain very little nutrition and because they almost all contain gums. 

More information to help you INTEGRATE this new information:

1. If you tolerate dairy there is nothing wrong with making your shake or having your coffee with organic milk. More programming involved here with the big anti-dairy movement, but if you tolerate dairy, then it is a nutrient dense source of nutrition that doesn’t contain additives (providing you are consuming organic milk).

2. If you don’t tolerate dairy and you want to have a shake - there is nothing wrong with making your shake with filtered water or coconut water. Add frozen fruit, collagen powder and even some honey and you have a robust nutrient dense shake without any additives that you can actually digest.

3. If you just have to have your nuts, either make your own almond milk or buy a brand that contains no additives. I have noticed that there are a few brands of almond milk and other milks available that are more pure and contain just filtered water, almonds and maybe a natural sweetener. Note that these will usually be in the refrigerated section and not down an aisle in a box.

4. Avoid soy milk at all costs. Again, not an article to bash soy, but soy is not a health food and has an extremely detrimental impact on the bodies hormonal system. Excess estrogen, etc. 

5. When drinking coffee, if you don’t tolerate dairy, then use a gum free alternative. Most coffee shops don’t have gum free nut milks (although some do), so an option would be to buy small packets of coconut collagen creamer to mix in your coffee. A few brands are now making these products.