What type of milk are you drinking? These days, there are so many different options to choose from such as dairy, almond, oat, coconut, soy, and ones including different types of nuts and seeds. What is amazing is not only do these options bring good flavor and take on the drink or meal it is being used in, they each have their own specific health benefits.
Interestingly enough, the movement of consumers straying away from cow’s milk has become very widespread, and has created this “no dairy allowed” stance throughout health and wellness culture. But is no dairy a good thing? What about if you have allergies? And even if you don’t have allergies, are you still harming yourself by drinking “regular” milk? And what about hormones?
Growing up, we are all taught that milk is good for us. We are taught in order to have strong bones and muscles, we need to drink our milk! However, when we are older and more options become more available to us, we start to question everything. While those statements are true about cows milk being high in protein and calcium, as well as aiding in heart health (Organic Facts), some sources say that there isn’t really strong evidence supporting that drinking milk prevents bone injury risks (Harvard Health Publishing). Harvard Healing Publishing goes on to further say that if one doesn’t have an allergy to milk and dairy products, the decision to drink plant-based milks is up to you.
Although that is somewhat great to hear, as a woman who has Breast Implant Illness (BII), I also worry about how certain foods affect my hormones. Common information is that cow’s milk is pumped with hormones. However, I am not too sure that many people know what type of hormones is in the milk, and how that can impact our health.
Someone I trust for guidance on all things hormones is, Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist and women’s hormone expert. Vitti is the founder of FLO Living, author of Women Code, and overall works to give perspective and guidance to women based on their hormone needs. Vitti wrote a blog post on the FLO Living website regarding her own personal journey with dairy, as well as her stance on consuming dairy. Essentially, she is very much against it. Vitti mentions that dairy is a “root cause” for PMS, PCOS, acne, endometriosis, and infertility issues (FLOLiving). She then explains that dairy cows in the US are injected with genetically modified growth hormones, in order to over produce milk. This means when drinking the milk, we are also consuming the hormones. Vitti also mentions that cows are fed GMO corn and soy, products that are not good for our hormones (FLOLiving). Dairy also causes inflammation in the intestinal tract, hinders your own estrogen production, and ruins your magnesium stores which throws off your adrenal glands (FLOLiving).
So where will we receive calcium? Through amazing foods such as kale, almonds, oranges, sesame seeds, oatmeal, seaweed, collard greens, and dried figs (FLOLiving)!
While cow’s milk does not really impact consumers who don’t have a dairy or lactose allergy, it can significantly impact our hormones, as well as negatively impact the earth. Ethique posted a graphic (below) on their Instagram that really caught my eye, and also further explains the effects cow’s milk and plant-based milk leave on the earth.
Photo from Ethique
With the graphic above, you can see cow’s milk uses significantly more water compared to the other milks provided, as well as releases 3-4.5kg of carbon emissions into the air, and uses a significant amount of land, all for just one liter.
Along with this, the World Wildlife Fund reported in Winter of 2019, that there has been a 30% increase of global milk production from 2005 to 2015. It also continues to report that, as a global total the dairy industry has increased emissions by 18% between 2005 and 2015. However, the US dairy industry has reduced its emissions by 5% (World Wildlife Fund).
In my opinion, I believe these numbers will continue to grow. The World Wildlife Fund mentions that these numbers will grow due to population growth, rising incomes, and urbanization and westernization of diets around the world.
Not only from dairy products not agreeing with me internally, I am happy to continue choosing plant-based milks for environmental reasons. While all carry a significantly less impacted footprint on our earth, I want to focus on almond milk because it’s the one I prefer to drink out of all.
Referring back to the graphic from Ethique, almond milk is the second highest in water use, with 371 liters, per one liter. However, it is great to see that it is the lowest of released carbon emissions and land use.
Almonds also contain many health benefits. Almonds are high in vitamin E, packed with healthy fats and proteins, and also are high in antioxidants which can aid in healthy cells (Taste of Home), which is great for the skin!
If you are looking to make the switch to a dairy free milk, something important to note is that a good amount of plant-based milk brands will have additive ingredients to boost a certain flavor of the milk or to make it sweeter. If that is something that you like to avoid, I recommend brands such as MALK Organics which is great for almond, pecan, and gluten free oat milk options, with very simple ingredients. Califia Farms offers great plant-based milk products that include almond, gluten free oat, and coconut milk. Califia Farms also offers cold brew, yogurts, and more. Elmhurst brand also offers a wide variety of plant-based milks, with amazing ingredients! No matter the brand or price point, just make sure to check out the ingredients, and especially the added sugar content.
For me personally, I have been on such a hormone journey with my BII, and try to do everything I can to maintain healthy levels. Therefore, I have been using plant based milk options for some time now, and do believe that dairy can be a factor in hormone disruption. With that, as well as personal research, and the graphic from Ethique showing the impact dairy has on the Earth, it has made me question the dairy industry we have in the US, and seek to know what they plan on doing to counteract this.
However, whichever milk you chose to drink, for whatever reason, I do believe knowledge is power! Being able to explain a personal decision (not that you have to) with facts, different perspectives, and respect is what creates positive conversation and progress in the health and wellness industry.
6 Incredible Cow Milk Benefits- organicfacts.net
Plant Milk or Cow’s Milk: Which is Better for You?- health.harvard.edu
The 4 Ways Dairy is Hurting your Hormones- floliving.com
Milk’s Impact on the Environment- worldwildlife.org
10 Health Benefits of Almonds- tasteofhome.com
Kinds of milk and their Impact- Ethique Instagram
Written By Clean Beauty Babe